Published: August 22, 2023
Review & Onsite Photos by Madelia Hickman Ring
MANCHESTER, N.H. — By any metric one cares to use to measure, the 66th annual New Hampshire Antiques Show, presented August 10-12 by the New Hampshire Antiques Dealers Association (NHADA), was a resounding success. Long lines at the opening? Check! Steady traffic throughout the run of the event? Done! New faces? “Yes” for both buyers and sellers!
The event, colloquially known as “The Dealers’ Show,” is widely considered one of the highlights of Antiques Week in New Hampshire and caps the week-long event. The 59 professional antiques dealers who exhibit at the show save merchandise throughout the year to ensure that the show maintains its longstanding reputation for “fresh-to-the-market” antiques. A press release issued by NHADA board member Rebecca Connolly Hackler after the show reported that show attendance was up from last year. A notable trend of this year’s show was the increased presence of younger attendees who displayed a keen interest in antiques. They perused the booths with genuine curiosity, asking questions and engaging in conversations with exhibitors. The show provided a unique opportunity for these emerging enthusiasts to meet seasoned dealers and browse the best in Americana.
For some time, the show management has offered free admission to visitors 30 years old or younger and it’s clear that this initiative is working. When asked, however, if the show did anything differently in terms of social media outreach to new and younger clients, no substantial explanation was offered. We can only say that whatever they were doing was the right thing and to keep doing it.
Sharon Platt, NHADA’s vice president of communications reported she was “blown away with sales,” saying she sold nearly everything in her booth, to a combination of both existing and new clients. She noted in particular being impressed not only with the number of younger visitors but that they showed engaged interest and asked “really wonderful” questions. “I also thought this year that ‘color’ was so prominent — in portraits, in furniture, in folk art. There was just so much color in the show this year.”
Just a few of the sales the New Castle, N.H., dealer made included a painted barrel, an Eighteenth Century red-painted squirrel cage, some early wool blankets, a miniature demilune table that had been in the collection of Robert Thayer, a mirror, an old bottle, a miniature blanket chest, an herb dryer, a ram’s head fireplace shovel and a painted door. She was particularly excited to have sold a very rare Eighteenth Century American lady’s linen corset.
A handful of new vendors were participating in the show for the first time: Bittner Antiques (Shelburne, Vt.), William R. & Teresa F. Kurau (Lampeter, Penn.), Matt Ehresman (Wadsworth, Ohio), Oliver Garland (Falmouth, Mass.), Gemini Antiques (Whitehouse Station, N.J.), John Hunt Marshall (Westampton, Mass.), Period to Mod/ Brennan & Mouilleseaux Antiques & Design (Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.) and Earle D. Vandekar of Knightsbridge (Downingtown, Penn.).
Brian Bittner enthusiastically provided feedback after the show. “The show was a really great experience for us. We sold items from our newspaper ads, during setup and throughout the show. We sold some of our favorite items from many categories, from stoneware to artwork, jewelry to primitives, an Eighteenth Century map of New England and an Eighteenth Century book on free will by Jonathan Edwards. My interests are broad and eclectic, I was pleased to get lots of positive feedback on such a diverse booth. I’m already looking forward to next year and I expect in the meantime I may be finalizing a few more sales from this show.”
David Kurau also had a similarly enthusiastic response. “It went well for us; we’re very pleased. We sold a little bit of everything, and half of our sales were to people new to us.” He reported that among their more important sales was a George Washington pitcher with a transfer print image from Gilbert Stuart’s portrait, and a soup tureen depicting General Lafayette in Castle Gardens; both of those items had never been presented for sale at a show previously. The Lampeter dealer said they will be returning to the show in 2024.
“We had a very good and successful first show,” reported Oliver Garland. “The energy was high; we sold many European and esoteric items. Mostly ‘smalls’ and pieces that could fit in a bag. One piece of furniture went, again it was small.” A stunning oversized carved painted crest of the United Kingdom sold to a trade buyer from online exposure after the show opened.
Tim Brennan, Period to Mod, summed up their entire NHADA show experience in one word: “Fab-u-lous!” He appreciated the opportunity to return to what he described as his roots in “surfacy American furniture and folk art,” and the welcome he and Dave Mouilleseaux received from the show committee and the other dealers. Exceeding their expectations was the response to their booth and selected offerings, noting both “collectors — and civilians — were quick to comment on how we combined period objects in a modern, designed way and understood our aim to show how such things can fit into a home that is not a museum.”
Matt Ehresman had several sales by the middle of opening day, notably a painted box with slant lid, a wall rack, a red-painted wall cabinet, a bookshelf with drawers, a cupboard and some painted baskets. “It was a really good week. There was great energy on the floor and the crowds were great. It’s trying times to find good merchandise, but I thought all the dealers brought great things together. I know a lot of people look to this week as a chance to see good antiques and to reconnect with old friends; the week has always been the highlight of my summer! I thought people in New Hampshire took the time to appreciate their friends who are still here.” He observed that people were looking for high-quality painted smalls and folk art and is already looking forward to next year.
“It’s been fabulous. People have been really knowledgeable,” said Kitty Marshall, wife of John Hunt Marshall, another of the first-time exhibitors. She acknowledged that smalls were some of their biggest sellers.
“It was the best NHADA show we’ve had in the four years we’ve exhibited there,” said Woodbury, Conn., folk art dealer David A. Schorsch, who, along with business partner Eileen Smiles, tallied 15 sales from 25 pieces taken to the show, selling to both new and established clients. He noted that their first sale — a portrait of a little girl by John Brewster Jr that was in its original veneered frame and featured a provenance that included the Gregory family, Eddy Nicholson, Marguerite Riordon, Mark and Susan Laracy and Barbara Gordon — was also the most expensive item in their booth. While he did not disclose the price he had been asking, he confirmed it sold to a buyer who was new to him.
Other sales Schorsch and Smiles closed were a circa 1780 sack-back Windsor armchair, branded by its maker — Joseph Henzey of Philadelphia — that is a mate to one at Independence Hall. He had acquired it from the collection of Charles and Olenka Santore and sold it to a longtime client. A museum acquired one of the pieces Schorsch said was one of his most talked about: a late Eighteenth Century portrait of Caleb Thaxter (1751-1826) of Hingham and a friend of John Quincy Adams, whose diary entry suggests Thaxter had lived as an openly gay man in the upper echelon of Massachusetts society in the Colonial and Federal periods.
Another dealer who brought a relatively small inventory who also did well was John Chaski, who was assisted by his son, Charlie, and who Chaski said “had a great time and made lots of finds and friends.” “I planned a pretty sparse booth but still managed to sell more than 20 items, probably more than half by volume. I thought the crowds the entire week were about on par with the past couple years. Saturday’s crowd was the youngest I have ever seen at a show.”
Chaski’s show neighbors, David and Jane Thompson, shared the following with us via email. “We were delighted to have a fantastic show — our best ever at NHADA. We had a fun, big rush of sales when the show opened — to faithful, repeat customers, and also to people we were meeting for the first time. In fact, a number of our buyers told us that this was their first time at the NHADA show — they came from everywhere. We noticed a proliferation of checks from Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, as well as Texas, Virginia, Florida and every state in the Northeast. It was great to see collectors in every age range, including young people who were buying, and eager to ask questions. Three minutes before the show closed, we sold an 1830s printed silk shawl to a young woman attending the show for the first time who tried it on and looked at herself in an Eighteenth Century mirror. Her boyfriend bought it for her! Having free admission for anyone under 30 is a great idea! We sold across the board in many categories, from historic maps and flags to needlework, Native American baskets, holiday items and nautical. We appreciate so much all the hard work that goes into making NHADA work so well and are already looking forward to next August.”
Olde Hope Antiques occupies a prime spot just inside the show’s main entrance and filled their booth with the typical fare of folk portraits, painted furniture and related small objects. Pat Bell reported selling a large, hooked rug with a yellow bird, a red server, a child’s bench, a pair of Jacob Maentel portraits, a long blue storage chest and several smaller things. “We felt that overall, the attendance was good and enthusiastic though it seemed we had a smaller crowd on Friday than in years past. Saturday was well-attended with many young people who were showing serious interest. We have already received follow-up interest and hope to make more sales as a result.”
Though several dealers observed that smaller objects seemed to be selling better than furniture, Peter Sawyer — next to Olde Hope Antiques and also one of the first booths into the show — had sold several pieces of furniture — a Queen Anne tavern table, a Queen Anne six-drawer chest, a Brewster & Ingraham clock, a miniature Classical chest of drawers, a wing chair in blue upholstery, a Simon Willard tall case clock and another tall chest — by the end of the first day.
“We had a good show. What was very encouraging was we sold a lot of ‘brown wood’; but really what the most encouraging was we sold the New Hampshire tall clock made by Levi and Abel Hutchins and which had a casemaker’s label, to a 24-year-old buyer; it is the biggest purchase he’s ever made. It’s very encouraging to see some ‘young blood’ among collectors.”
Cassopolis, Mich., dealer Douglas Wyant is another of the first booths visitors went to and, within moments of the show opening, several pieces had donned red sold tags or been whisked into shopping bags. Sales included small furniture, stuffed animals and a large, framed picture of a watermelon.
Sculpture was a predominant form in the booth of Kingston, N.Y., dealers, Judith & James Milne. A pair of Rochester horse cast iron weathervanes acted as guardians to the booth, which also featured a cornucopia trade sign that had been removed from the Abernathy Farm in Walpole, N.H., and a Northwest Wind weathervane that was described as “rare and possibly unique.” A dog weathervane that attracted interest early on was seen leaving the show later that day.
A painted cabinet and carved cardinal were among the first sales of the show that Tom and Bev Longacre finalized. A featured item that was getting a lot of attention was a handmade firehouse that was described as “exceptional” and in “superb condition.”
Bruce Emond tallied sales of a tinfoil still life, a painted table, a pair of carved wooden lamps, a firkin, a large wooden helix sculpture that dominated his booth and an iron blacksmith sign. He also had one of the most historically important objects in the show — the House of Representatives chairs owned by Person Cheney, who was also the 35th Governor of New Hampshire. Though Emond tallied a few dozen sales in several categories over the weekend, he said the chair got a lot of attention from a lot of “the right people” but was still available for sale.
Emond’s neighbor, Cottage & Camp, sold several things right away: a few carved fish wall plaques, a Nineteenth Century theorem, and an instrument that had been fashioned with a cigar box.
Adam Irish, Old as Adam, specializes in material culture, fine and folk art, design, ephemera, textiles, oddments and curiosities. Among those latter categories would certainly include a sign warning potential property trespassers of a “Vicious Cow.” Early sales included a stereoscopic photo portrait of a tinsmith from the third quarter of the Nineteenth Century, and some ink and watercolor carriage design renderings from New Jersey, circa 1870.
“We did really well, it was a great show,” Arthur Liverant said over the phone afterwards. “We love the show every year. It’s fun, it’s relaxed, everyone is generally very upbeat. They come to enjoy themselves. I thought there was a very nice cross-section of material there this year and people responded very well to it. As it typically is, attendance on Thursday was very strong but it continued on Friday and Saturday as well. We sold a lot of things and came home with a much lighter load. We are very pleased with the whole thing.”
Arthur Liverant presented a challenge to visitors at his booth: he offered a $100 store credit to anyone who could discover the secret drawers in an Eighteenth Century cherry desk on frame, attributed to Middletown, Conn., within 15 minutes. He said five people found them, including a 15-year-old girl, who he said was “thrilled.”
“It was a lot of fun and brings another point of view to the furniture. We try to dispel the idea that antiques can’t be fun. These things are well made, and we want people to realize they can be lived with and enjoyed. It’s one of the reasons why we do our annual calendars,” he said, referring to the annual calendars his firm produces in which antiques are humorously juxtaposed with children playing (if you haven’t seen them, make sure to get one for 2024!)
It’s always gratifying when dealers tell us that pieces they advertised in Antiques and The Arts Weekly sell. That was the case with a Nineteenth Century carved and painted wooden and tin elephant toy in original paint, 25 inches tall, that Tom Jewett and Butch Berdan had advertised in the NHADA show’s advertising insert. Other sales the Maine dealers ticked off were a rare carved wooden doll, a folk portrait of a young boy, a William Prior portrait of a child, a wooden sea serpent weathervane, painted treen, some painted furniture and numerous smalls.
“I honestly believe it was very strong for most dealers,” said Berdan. “Everyone seemed very pleased.”
Kelly Kinzle was packed up and ready to drive to Manchester when a family emergency required him to stay behind in Pennsylvania. Rather than pull out at the last minute, art shipper extraordinaire, Scott Cousins, and Columbus, Ohio, folk art dealer Austin T. Miller stepped up and manned his booth so that Kinzle could still participate in the show. On the first day, Cousins sold a set of six Philadelphia Windsor chairs, a Shaker box and a few other smalls. Over the course of Friday and Saturday, Miller added to the list of sold items — a painted stand from Maine, an inlaid candle stand and several framed things.
Reached after the show, Kinzle said he was pleased with how well it went.
Steven Still was having good luck with painted objects on the first morning, selling in the first hour or so a painted pine covered compote and a pie safe painted in a vibrant green.
Folk art dealers Pat and Rich Garthoeffner may have sold the bulk of their collection at New England Auctions in January 2023, but they are still actively buying and selling. Among many standout pieces in their booth was a “one-of-a-kind” patchwork quilt dated 1892 that depicted a small village with a train track running throughout, two churches and even a graveyard. Rich said they had acquired it in the Midwest, where it had probably been made.
It would have been impossible to miss the chair — made in the form of a seated man and rendered entirely from bottle caps — that was at the center of Tom Rawson’s booth. It charmed shoppers enough to wear a red sold sticker by noon on the first day, as did a Nineteenth Century blown glass vase, an articulated folk art dancing coolie, a still life by W.H. Drake, a carving of Abraham Lincoln by Harold Tolfson and a carving of a woman with a crab that had been discovered in New Orleans.
Sandy Noordsy could not write sale receipts up fast enough to keep up with the sales that Jeff and Holly Noordsy were transacting, and which included an owl doorstop, a large painted dome-top box, a painted dressing table from New England, a pair of early Nineteenth Century silhouettes and a Zanesville, Ohio, molded globular bottle that was described as “perfectly balanced.”
Shortly after noon on Thursday, Michael Whittemore had tagged nearly a dozen lots sold, including painted furniture, mirrors, weathervanes, nautical wall pictures and carvings.
“We had sales throughout the show and were very impressed with the number of engaged, interested young people — in their 20s and 30s — who were at the show,” said Chris Evans. The Waynesboro, Va., dealer said they’d sold weathervanes, redware and stoneware, painted boxes and “lots of smalls.”
Swansea, Mass., dealer Brian Ferguson pointed out that he’d been doing the NHADA show for 30 years, the entire time in the same booth, which was on the lower level of the show. The undisputed showstopper in his booth, and one of the best ones in the show in this reporter’s opinion, was the carved wood doorway that came off of an Eighteenth Century Main Street house in Providence, R.I. The house had suffered a fire and was scheduled to be demolished but the doorway was salvaged and had been in storage for more than half a century. Ferguson said it was the first time out and “a lot of people loved it.”
Robert Foley, Gray, Maine, said he’d had “a really good morning,” selling “lots of carved birds, a scallop-top cupboard, some urn-form finials and a lot of smalls.”
The 67th Annual New Hampshire Antiques Show is scheduled to take place August 8-10, at the DoubleTree by Hilton. For additional information, www.nhada.org.
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