Published: December 21, 2004
Review by Frances McQueeny-Jones Mascolo, photos By David S. Smith
Thirty-two was the magic number at America’s oldest museum, the spectacular Peabody Essex Museum, where the 32nd annual antiques show drew 32 dealers offering visitors a fine balance of excellent furniture and decorations.
This year’s show, November 26-28, was set out entirely on the second floor of the museum, taking up the galleries of the spectacular new wing and the adjoining 1824 East India Marine Hall. Last year the show was a little scattered between the first and second floors. The flow was improved considerably this year.
The gala preview party attracted nearly 500 supporters and sold stickers appeared like snowflakes. Show manager Christine Crossman Vining, who started the show 32 years ago, remembers a conversation back then with Ron Bourgeault about the need for an antiques show in Salem. Vining suggested the show; Bourgeault concurred. That was in September. By Thanks-giving of that year the show she organized was up and running at Hamilton Hall in Salem. That was the year she made the chowder, sold the tickets and exhibited antiques.
Vining said the gate was up this year and she hopes to expand to include more dealers next year. Dealers reported strong sales; she reported that one dealer – George Spiecker – said the show was the best of his entire career.
Dealers this year were invited to the Portsmouth, N.H., home of Vining’s brother Carl Crossman for Thanksgiving dinner, a feast that is also turning into an annual event. Well-fed and convivial, they were well fortified for a lively show.
Bradford Trust Fine Art of Harwichport on Cape Cod showed, fittingly enough, Cape artists, and works by Cape Ann painters. Provincetown artist John Whorf’s “Cape Half House,” an oil on canvas board, rendering of one of the charming small houses that used to be found all over the Cape. The gallery also offered an Impressionistic Provincetown harbor view by Charles W. Hawthorne and “The Dunes” by Charles Drew Cahoon, whose work is rising in value each time out.
A selection of coastal Maine pictures by Edward Franklin Ward included “Monhegan Wharf,” “Monhegan Light” and “Monhegan Houses” and attracted significant interest. Two pictures by William Houghton Sprague Pearce were offered: buyers found “Inside the Artist’s Studio” and “Rocky Coast” of interest.
George and Debbie Spiecker of North Hampton, N.H., had a wall filled with terrific half-hulls and some fine American banner weathervanes. The booth was replete with the good Chippendale and Queen Anne pieces that are their specialty. Two corner cabinets drew second glances; the lower doors on one were carved with concentric circles. An American Chippendale cherry chest was made in 1780 and had old refinish and an attractive American Sheraton three-drawer maple dressing table was probably made in Vermont in about 1815.
Pride of place, however, went to a circa 1860 carved American “Pilot House” eagle that came from the collection of Darwin H. Urffer. A couple of desirable paintings on offer were also from the Urffer collection: “May Queen” a portrait of a British schooner off the Italian coast, and an 1840 American still life.
Newton, N.H., dealer Stephen J. Rowe offered the impressive “Spring Storm, Dorset” a beautiful rendering of the Vermont hills. Among the furniture on view was an intriguing square Empire mahogany marble top center table, a small New England cherry side table with scrolling, and a Boston classical mahogany and exotic mahogany veneer chest of drawers with a dressing box top that was made between 1840 and 1850. Rowe also had a fine Charles X Classical French chair and a handsome Continental mahogany console table with a marble top.
Show sponsor Landry & Arcari brought a sumptuous display of rugs – and a textile artisan to demonstrate the weaving process.
Among the refulgent copper and brass objects that Michael J. Whitman offered was a pair of Paktong candlesticks. The booth was full also of bedwarmers and ladles, kettles and other cooking vessels and measures. An 1880 set of five gaper scoops stood out in the crowd. They were signed by Paul Beyer of Philadelphia.
David Brooker showed a fine array of animal portraiture including Americo Gauci’s circa 1869 image “Prize Bull,” a view of an exceptionally well-fed animal. Dogs and flowers were well represented; English artist J.F. Walker’s “Horse with Pups” done in the 1870s was a compelling picture. There was also a pretty 1830 English school picture, “A Summer Dance,” and the dreamy 1864 view by Joseph Paul Pettit, “Eton Chapel, Thames.”
Show manager Christine Crossman Vining offered a pair of handsome French marble top tables that she discovered during the show were of Queen Anne marble from Normandy. She also had a mid Nineteenth Century Oriental Trade table, probably Javanese in origin, that was beautifully carved and caught a lot of admiring glances. Vining also showed a well-formed English mahogany brass bound wine cooler that dated from 1790-1810. Tucked away in a corner were two blue foo dogs. Vining managed her booth and the show it seemed with one hand tied behind her back. Her booth was full of interesting acquisitions and the show offered a diverse selection of objects.
Neville Lewis of The Barometer Shop in Cushing, Maine, says he has been selling antiques for 53 years and specializing in barometers for some time. The oldest barometer he offered was the 1795 wheel barometer by Andrew Gatty of Dublin. Hung on the wall, the barometer was customarily supported by a stand, few of which are around these days. He also showed an 1810 marine example by William Cary of London and a handsome circa 1850 example by David Good-man of Cardiff, Wales. Lewis showed two examples by Charles Wilder of Peterborough, N.H., one of which he described as a “baseball barometer.” There was also the American stick barometer by D.E. Lent of Rochester, N.Y.
Arthur and Kathy Stacey sell fine tea caddies and boxes in the United States and England. Their booth was full of handsome tortoiseshell tea caddies from every period. There was also a handsome ivory tea caddy and an array of English mother-of-pearl and tortoiseshell boxes.
Good & Hutchinson showed a remarkable red and white ivory game set with intricately carved playing pieces. It rested amid grander American furniture like an imposing inlaid sideboard and a dining table that attracted a lot of visitor interest. Buyers also appreciated a circa 1820 mahogany étagère and a handsome Rose Medallion punch bowl that was one of an array of fine porcelain pieces for sale
American Decorative Arts of Canaan, N.H., had something for everyone. The offerings ranged from a 1915 Stickley Brothers lamp table to a circa 1900 Stickley Als ik kan “Ravi Pina” candleholder to an array of Shaker pieces that generated some strong sales. There were also some sturdy McHugh & Co., side chairs with neat rush seats.
Boston’s Polly Latham offered her usual high quality range of Asian export and armorial porcelain that was well-received. In keeping with the venue she showed a shell carved with a medallion of George Peabody, Nineteenth Century benefactor of the Peabody Essex Museum. Latham also had a scholar’s rock on a stand, a pair of black cloisonné jars and a set of four prints detailing the tea trade.
An elegant mahogany recliner upholstered in fawn-color leather was a real eye-catcher in the booth of Federalist Antiques, as was a set of four nesting tables in enamel with dragon and serpent decoration. Federalist also showed a Simon Willard tall clock and a Salem sofa carved with dolphins.
An American rococo revival (circa 1855-1875) table decorated with a central peacock dominated the booth of W.M. Schwind. Two window screens with painted images of romantic vistas were also on offer. Such pieces were popular in Baltimore during the 1830s-1850s. The Schwinds also showed a Chippendale oxbow chest in dazzling tiger maple that came from the Snow family of Saco, Maine, and a terrific looking Maine tiger maple tip-top table.
Randall Decoteau brought paintings by Robert Emmet Owen, including “Snow Covered Bridge,” “Town Vista” and a selection of landscapes. He also showed “The Cliff, 1944” by Elwyn George Gowen and Max Kuehne’s “The Aqueduct Segovia, 1917.”
Proceeds of the preview party benefited the Peabody Essex Museum’s educational and public programs.
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