Published: March 2, 2021
By Greg Smith
HILLSBOROUGH, N.H. – Paul Scott, antiques dealer, collector and past board member of the New Hampshire Antiques Dealers Association (NHADA), passed away February 22 at his home in Hillsborough, where he had lived since 1983. He was 70 years old.
Scott was born February 18, 1951, in Farmingdale, N.Y., on Long Island, to parents Harriet (nee Muff) and Douglas Scott. He was educated in the public school system until attending university at New England College in Henniker, N.H., where he majored in history and political science. The college offered a winter break class on American antiques taught by Ron Rosenbleeth, who was then a teacher but would become an auctioneer. A highlight of the class was a trip to the January sale at Richard Withington Auctions at the Rolling Green Hotel in Andover, Mass. As Scott watched dealer John Walton pay over $2,000 for a period Queen Anne chair, he got hooked. At age 19, he became a runner for Withington until he graduated in 1973.
Thereafter, Scott began working for antiques dealer Richard Mills at his shop in Exeter, N.H., where he had his first introduction to the dealer side of the trade. Mills, a Winter Show dealer, had a breadth of knowledge to pass on that included books, paintings and Americana. Scott and Mills worked together until the latter’s passing not long after.
Scott then became a picker as he attended auctions and scoured shops in search of country items that he could sell to established dealers.
Scott soon met his wife, Cheryl, and they were wed in 1979 until their divorce in 2013. Together they formed an antiques business dealing in Americana, attending a dozen shows at the height of their careers. Their show schedule included the New Hampshire Antiques Show; the Hartford Show; the Southport-Westport Antiques Show; the Peabody Museum Show in Salem, Mass.; Rhinebeck; the Delaware Antiques Show; the Chester County Antiques Show; the ADA/Deerfield Show; Antiques at the Armory; and shows in Ellsworth, Maine and Wilton, Conn.
Paul Scott’s passion was in New England furniture from the Eighteenth and the early Nineteenth Century that retained original surface and paint and exemplary form. He also held close American folk art, wood carvings and weathervanes, the latter category introduced to him by Scott Bassoff in the 1980s.
“We were all part of the same group running around the flea markets or doing the shows, just all over,” recalled dealer Sandy Jacobs. “In the early 1980s, there was a hardcore group of us. Paul, Cheryl, Scott and I were the babies, we were the young kids at the time. Everyone else had been doing shows for longer. We were part of the contingency of southwestern New Hampshire dealers that included Charlie and Dudley Cobb, Tom Longacre, Jay Turomsha, Bill Lewan and more. We’d all see each other at the auctions, the smaller shows – some of them were just local people. We got to know each other well.”
“Paul was enthusiastic about the business, it was a love affair he kept up his whole life,” Jacobs continued. “He wasn’t a snob when it came to antiques, if it was old and he felt like he could sell it, he would buy it. I remember the first time he talked us into doing the Wilton Show, he said ‘I sold five pieces of brown furniture, when can you do that!?’ He loved the hunt and he loved finding pieces.”
Over time, the picking led way to an established antiques business that saw the pickers coming to them. The Scotts only time off was two weeks per year at a cottage in Maine. His favorite hunting grounds included Brimfield and the New Hampshire Antiques Show.
After the NHADA took back management of the New Hampshire Antiques Show in the late 1980s, president Peter Eaton and the board installed Paul Scott as chairman of the show. He remained in that role for a number of years before bequeathing it to others, and he returned to it again after.
At his first show as chairman, Laura Beach wrote, “In its 32nd year the New Hampshire Antiques Show remains one of nature’s more agreeable freaks. Today, with a surfeit of shows to choose from, what else could move more than 2,000 people to drop everything for an August weekend in Manchester? To fight for reservations at the Center of New Hampshire Holiday Inn? To limit their conversation to ‘hi,’ ‘how much,’ and ‘I’ll take it’ in their charge around the convention center floor? How does Paul Scott, this year’s New Hampshire Show chairman, describe this phenomenon? ‘Delightful, confusing, profitable. It really is controlled chaos.'” The review mentions that the Scotts sold three of the four weathervanes they brought to the show. That year, there were fears from some dealers that with Russell Carrell’s departure, the board would try to make the show more elite. “Nobody is going to be kicked out as long as I am involved,” Scott said. “We’re going to keep the ratio of New Hampshire dealers to non-New Hampshire dealers the same and we’ll keep the same mix. You don’t mess with success, after all this is New Hampshire. We don’t want it to be a beauty pageant.”
“That’s when I really got close with Paul as we worked together on the board,” remembered Tommy Thompson, president of the NHADA. “One thing led to another and we spent a lot of time together. Paul was devoted. He breathed, slept and ate antiques and was a real proponent of the Dealers Association. He thought it was a great thing and we had a great show and we should keep things going as it is.”
Scott’s thirst for antiques was transcontinental as he engaged in buying trips to London with his good friend Dan Hingston, who managed sales at Richard Withington Auctions. Together they would buy pewter, brass, ceramics and mochaware, wrought iron and painted furniture that had American appeal. In 1986 on a flight home from London, the locking mechanism on a door near the flight attendant’s station failed to engage, resulting in the door flying open mid-flight. The co-pilot and attendants wrestled it shut and were able to keep it closed with an emergency bar. He never flew again.
Scott was passionate about the work of New Hampshire bird carver Jess Blackstone, whose estate he represented. Blackstone carved and painted more than 160 kinds of birds in his lifetime, though it was his songbirds that found great favor. Scott’s passion for these carvings was no doubt influenced by his general love of birds.
Said dealer Bob Foley, “I knew him close to 40 years and probably met him at the Concord Valley Hotel Show in the 70s. He was a great competitor, a great businessman and a great friend. He always had quite the attitude. We had a lot of positive experiences together.”
Scott’s involvement in the antiques business continued unabated until tragedy struck on May 10, 2009, when he fell in his backyard and suffered a spinal cord injury that would leave him a quadriplegic. He lived with assistance for the rest of his life and went largely unseen in the business thereafter, though his communication with fellow colleagues never ceased.
It was after his accident that he began calling dealer Arthur Liverant about three times per week, always at night around 10:30 pm. “We would discuss sports, the antiques business, politics and the news of the day,” Liverant said. “It was always amazing to me that, no matter how dire things were for him, he never lost his optimistic attitude or his desire to carry on. I hardly ever heard him complain about his predicament. He had a great eye when he was dealing, he loved colorful painted surfaces and he loved weathervanes with great character and subject matter and form and composition, also genre paintings. He was very trustworthy and honest.”
In August 2012, Skinner held a sale of 280 lots from Paul and Cheryl’s collection. It was led by a $41,475 result for a copper butterfly weathervane attributed to Fiske. The sale would gross $578,000.
His friendship with Thompson allowed Scott to continue dealing through a space at the Chichester, N.H., Thos. Bartlett Antiques and Oddments through his final days.
Paul is survived by many cousins and his presence in their lives will be greatly missed.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, no memorial service will be held at this time. Donations in Paul’s memory may be made to the Wheels of Mercy, www.wheelsofmercy.org.
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