Published: January 29, 2019
NEW YORK CITY – It was borne of a stubborn desire to not go quietly into that goodnight. A small band of dealers, stunned by the sudden announcement in June 2018 that show managers Liz Lees and Meg Wendy had decided not to continue the New York Ceramics & Glass Fair, coalesced into a plucky vanguard aiming to revive a smaller edition of the New York Antiques Week staple. At the time, Paul Vandekar of Earle Vandekar of Knightsbridge said the dealers were moving forward with a small fair that would run at Bohemian National Hall.
“It will be a smaller show,” Vandekar told Antiques and The Arts Weekly then, “so we will be set up on the third floor of Bohemian National Hall rather than the fourth and fifth floors as before.” No lectures or special exhibitions would be presented, It would be a small, focused endeavor – the New York Antique Ceramics Fair.
The pioneers prevailed. When the doors to the third-floor space at Bohemian National Hall opened on January 17, 2019, a pared down list of invited guests previewed the offerings of just nine exhibitors. Still, the show was no less international in scope – there were participants from Australia, England and the Netherlands. The show continued through January 20 and by most accounts it was a successful four days.
“Everyone did business,” said Vandekar, “although our main goal was to make sure the show existed and is continuing. We loved the room and have the potential to expand into a second space on the third floor if needed going forward. “Sales for the dealer included Chelsea botanical porcelain and a Staffordshire figure of Benjamin Franklin with the name Washington on the base, which collectors love to see and which was bought by a major American decorative arts collector. Vandekar also sold his staple Prattware and creamware. An interesting Dutch Delft syrup jug marked “Cannab” made its way from Delft dealer Leon-Paul van Geenen’s booth to Vandekar’s, and the Maryknoll, N.Y., dealer ultimately sold it to someone in the cannabis trade.
Another key player in the show’s rescue is Robert Walker, proprietor of Polka Dot Antiques, Waccabuc, N.Y. “Having revived the idea of the old antiques show, renaming it ‘The New York Antique Ceramics Fair,’ this was very much an exploratory specialist ’boutique’ fair,” said Walker. “It was wonderful to see the international aspect of the fair increased with a specialist dealer coming all the way from Australia, Lee Bradshaw, Etruria Antiques Gallery, for his first fair outside of his native country. Also, it was very good to see the return after a few years, of Leon-Paul van Geenen, Delft, Netherlands. The bulk of the remaining dealers were all familiar faces from the United Kingdom and America.
“Any trepidation on behalf of the dealers was immediately dispelled when we arrived at the third floor, having formerly been on the fourth and fifth floor, to see a well-lit gallery with our cabinets all waiting to be filled. The center of the floor was left open adding to the airy, calm atmosphere.
“To add to the overall calm and polished ambiance, several low tables and chairs were scattered into the middle of the room, decorated with fresh multicolored tulips. When the fair was opened and throughout the weekend, everyone commented on the relaxed, warm atmosphere.”
Walker himself said he had a very successful fair, selling items related to ceramic making and production to several museums and institutions, including Reeves Collection, Washington and Lee University, Historic Deerfield and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Other sales of Eighteenth Century Delft, Moorcroft pottery, pearlware and Wedgwood were to collectors in Australia, various states across America and to collectors in the tri-state area.
Just inside and to the left of the entrance was Lee Bradshaw of Etruria Antiques Gallery, Melbourne, Australia, who was getting a lot of interest in the Taylor collection of Bow porcelain, the first of the English porcelain manufacturers, operating circa 1740-76. He had several pieces of it in his showcase and made an important sale of a Lighthouse-form coffee pot, dating from around 1751, to a local collector. “I’m sorry to see it go, I don’t expect to see another,” he said. “I was pleased to see that my twin specializations of early English porcelain and early Wedgwood complemented the early pottery exhibited by most of the other dealers; the local collectors seemed pleased and excited by this new addition. The show was very exciting for me, being my first ever fair overseas. It was a great privilege to be asked to take part in the first of the New York Antique Ceramics Fairs, and I look forward to exhibiting in future and larger fairs as it develops.”
“We are very grateful to Melanie Delsalle, events manager, Bohemian Benevolent and Literary Association, Bohemian National Hall, for working with the new group and to Michaela Boruta, Boruta Consulting, for organizing the whole event,” concluded Walker of Polka Dot Antiques. For information, www.polkadotantiques.com or 914-548-8708.
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