Published: February 24, 2016
By Andrea Valluzzo and W.A. Demers
WEST PALM BEACH, FLA. — The Palm Beach Jewelry, Art & Antique Show was a glitzy affair filled with top-echelon antiques dealers and choice objects designed to appeal to a sophisticated audience during its seven days at the Palm Beach County Convention Center. The show opened February 10 and ran through February 16.
Palm Beach Show Group’s chief executive officer Scott Diament described the show as “fantabulous” and the best show they have run, noting the new seven-day format, two days more than previous iterations, was a “game-changer” in terms of luring European dealers to the show.
“I was really pleased with the show… We added 40 percent more time. It made a lot of difference, especially to the European dealers that come. Some of the larger European dealers would not do a five-day fair,” he said, noting they were able to get Steinitz from France and Apter-Fredericks of the United Kingdom to show here for the first time.
When you factor in all the marketing, setup, planning and organizational work that goes into mounting a show of this type, Diament said seven days is not too long.
Also new to the show was a bit of a new look that afforded a more open floor plan. By rigging wire supports from the ceiling to the fascia supporting corner booths instead of installing poles that hold up the fascia, “We didn’t technically make the show bigger but we increased the space without increasing the space,” Diament said. “It really allowed for a different feel to the event so that was a big deal.” The change, a first at any Palm Beach Show Group event, let people walk in and out of corner booths without having to skirt those pesky support poles.
Looking ahead to next year’s show here, Diament said he will keep his eye on constants as well as trends in the ever-changing antiques marketplace. “I’m going to continue to focus on European exhibitors and furniture and look for more furniture, more objects and more unique and interesting items.”
Diament was also excited to announce another “game-changer” for the show — the 27,000-square-foot parking garage under construction at the convention center will be ready for next year’s show.
Noting that parking for the dealers this year was a tad problematic, Stonington, Conn., dealer Roberto Freitas nevertheless summarized his results at the show as, “Fabulous, I had a great, great show.” He brought his typical inventory of American furniture, fine art and folk art, with an early sale being a carved and painted figure of a sailor holding a spyglass. The 39¼-inch-high folk art tradesman’s figure — dressed in a white shirt, gray trousers, gold vest and red neckwear, black jacket with brass buttons and a stovepipe hat — sold early to a longtime client. Two new clients also purchased significant fine art, including an Ernest Lawson landscape and a painting by Frederick Waugh. Freitas, an enterprising dealer, said the best part of being in Palm Beach in February was the ability to combine the show with several productive house calls. Then it was off to Thomasville, Ga., for the antiques show there opening for a three-day run on February 26.
Howard Rehs of Rehs Galleries, New York City, said, “We had about 150 works with us and had a great selection of both Nineteenth Century historical and Twenty-First Century works of art on display. The crowds have been great and a consistent flow of traffic.
“We sold about 30 works. Many works by our great roster of contemporary talent found new homes — more works by Anthony Mastromatteo, Todd Casey and works by Ben Bauer, Ken Salaz and Julie Bell were sold during the final hours. We sold works by Edouard Cortes, Timothy Jahn, 11 paintings by Mastromatteo, three by Casey and three by David Palumbo.
The best thing about being in Palm Beach in February is seeing all our friends/collectors — and the weather!”
Howard Rehs and his wife Amy packed out from Palm Beach and then were off to Naples, Fla., for the Naples Art, Antique and Jewelry Show, February 19–23.
It wasn’t until the last day of the seven-day show that Joe Vallejo of Vallejo Gallery, Newport Beach, Calif., managed to make a good showing, selling several significant pierces of marine art. A member of the Fine Art Dealers Association and in business since 1972, the gallery offers maritime and marine-themed art and marine antiques from the past three centuries. Names like Montague Dawson, Jack Gray and Thomas Moran are among the dealer’s inventory, and paintings range from stirring sea battles, coastal scenes, famous expeditions, pleasant afternoons along the seashore and topographical views of ports.
“From the dealer’s standpoint, a seven-day show can be wearing, but I did a lot of business on the last day,” said Vallejo. “There are three main reasons for dealers to be at shows these days — even though shows for the most part are really hitting it — one is to talk with one’s dealer friends, second is to be able to see what’s selling and third is to meet new clients.”
Some dealers might think it counterintuitive to showcase Americana in Florida at a show known more for art and jewelry but not Jeffrey Tillou, Litchfield, Conn., who figures that some of his Palm Beach customers likely are shopping for their second homes up north. The show gave him the chance to design an eclectic booth that was fun and highlighted the breadth of his inventory.
A featured item was a John and James Bard ship painting on the back wall of his booth that attracted much attention, while the left side of the booth had more formal offerings among European and English goods. The right side had great pieces of Americana and folk art, led by a carved figure of a maiden by Samuel Robb, which sold, as did a Junius Brutus Stearns painting, “Hiawatha’s Courtship,” 1861. Tillou also wrote up a beautiful English recamier sofa and a collection of seven dog paintings. Tillou also offered — and sold — a rare and important Regency mirror that had carved dolphins, that was befitting the show’s Florida venue.
“All in all we had about 14 sales, half were fairly significant sales…and they were to new clients. The show itself is very well run and put together, it’s glamorous, it has some of the best dealers in the world. Like most shows in today’s world, it was spotty, some did great, others [did not]… You just got to take chances.”
Carlson & Stevenson, Manchester, Vt., did well here, making new contacts and customers while seeing many of its regular customers, according to Tim Stevenson. “We were very pleased,” he said.
Phyllis Carlson notably sold a pair of mid-Nineteenth Century single beds that featured tole decoration on the footboard, headboard and side railings with floral scenes. “They were spectacular and probably from Switzerland,” said Tim. We will have to take Tim’s word for how they looked, as he was not readily available to share a photo with us. The cord on his tablet had frayed and his tablet battery ran down. When we talked to him, he was awaiting delivery of a new cord from Amazon. No doubt the beds’ new owner is thrilled with the items.
A grouping of illustrated art from children’s books also did well here, selling to a distinguished collector of children’s art. Phyllis also did so well with silver that Tim was joking they were changing their business name to Carlson & Silver, thus being able to keep their initials of C&S. “Phyllis had the best show ever for sterling silver napkin rings. She sold and sold,” he said. “The interest in her silver was just incredible.” A longtime supporter and fan of this show, C&S is already booked into next year’s event.
The booth of Moylan & Smelkinson, The Spare Room, Baltimore, Md., is easily recognizable at shows, having several large cases filled with choice English ceramics. Ironically, the dealers sold virtually no ceramics here, yet did very well with collectibles, especially watch chains and fobs. “The show was very well attended, there was traffic every day. It just didn’t seem to be an overly buying crowd, but it was a good crowd,” said dealer Jacqueline Smelkinson. “I thought it was a beautiful show, a good mix of dealers, in my mind better than ever.”
The dealers sold many collectibles besides watch accessories, including a collection of match safes, a collection of snuff boxes and some early rings.
A notable sale for longtime specialist in autographs and manuscripts, Lion Heart Autographs, New York City, was a rare marriage document signed by both Emperor Napoleon and Empress Josephine, to a European private collector. The document for the marriage between General August Hulin (1758–1841) and Marie Jeanne-Louise Tiersonnier (1782–1826) was also signed by other French notables, including six of Napoleon’s original 18 marshals.
Lion Heart Autographs also sold a portrait signed by French chemist and microbiologist Louis Pasteur, a document granting land to a revolutionary soldier signed by Benjamin Franklin as President of the Supreme Executive Council of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and a handwritten Marquis de Lafayette letter critiquing several books about the Revolution of 1830.
Scott Thomas of Deco 2 Mid-Century Furniture, Bernville, Penn., had such a great show here he sold more than 90 percent of his booth by the show’s end. Sales were made to repeat and new customers, as well as designers and included a complete room setting with a Gilbert Rohde desk by Herman Miller, circa 1942.
For additional information, www.palmbeachshow.com or 561-822-5440.
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