Few better locations for an antiques show exist than the Peabody Essex Museum where imposing figureheads and portraits of Salem sea captains gaze upon the proceedings. Thanksgiving weekend is a pretty good time to have one: visitors are eager to get out and get shopping after the turkey pleasantries. So they came to Salem and they came to buy.
The Peabody Essex show, held November 24–26, is highly polished and the positive energy throughout the museum galleries is electric. Since its beginning in 1972, the show has been managed by Christine Crossman Vining, who used terms like “shocking” and “astounding” to describe the results. She said she had spent three days wrapping and bagging, having made 50 sales. The smalls, she said, generated a feeding frenzy. The gate was up nicely and so were sales. Vining gave much credit to Betsy Weisman of the Peabody Essex, without whom she says the show would be impossible.
Vining, who has pretty much retired from dealing but not from managing the Peabody Essex show, spends much of the year in Wellington, Fla., where she is establishing a polo library at the International Polo Club. She has also taken up Texas Hold ‘Em poker, which she reports is great fun and she admits to some success. She was headed back to Florida at pack out.
Vining shared a booth with Peter Verheyen Antiques of Harvard, Mass., who offered an elegant circa 1800 English mahogany games table with a circular flip top with a checkerboard on one side. There was also an admirable group of sparkling cut glass salts, armorial porcelain and creamware.
The adjacent booth belonged to Vining’s brother Carl Crossman, who said his sister had “persuaded” him to participate. Crossman has not exhibited at any shows in a number of years; what he offered was fresh from his personal collection.
Crossman’s Northeast Auctions fine art, marine and China Trade decorative arts colleague Monica Reuss was on hand to help out in the booth.
Show visitors admired the array of Asian material that Crossman offered, particularly the China trade painting of the Dutch folly fort off Canton. He offered a dandy circular washstand in yellow paint and decorated with still lifes with fruit and a pair of highly carved arm chairs with caning and the letter “L” carved into the back. An impressive early Eighteenth Century Japanese charger was a traffic stopper. Vining said her brother was so “ecstatic” about the success of the show that he was considering “unretiring” from dealing.
Twenty-eight dealers set up for this year’s event, many with objects with direct connections to the museum’s collections. George and Debbie Spiecker from North Hampton, N.H., were a case in point. They showed a Queen Anne mahogany highboy from around 1760 with a shell carved center bottom drawer that was closely similar to one in the museum’s collection. They also had a Chippendale maple and tiger maple desk made around 1790 with a nicely dovetailed case. A large circa 1860 carved architectural fragment of a bird on a scrolled and decorated base that George Spiecker said might have been part of a tiller was a nod to the maritime collections of the museum, as were the half hulls for sale. A copper banner weathervane with the letter “S” was a sure bet to find a new home.
Roy and Sheila Mennell, whose Bradford Trust specializes in Cape Cod artists, were consistently engaged with clients and busy packing up pictures that had sold. They also sold a Nineteenth Century pair of China Trade lacquer chests. They offered a cherry sugar chest in a cabinet stand from about 1820–1830 that had been found in Kentucky. They offered “Sunset, Nantucket” and “The Stone Bridge, 1887,” by William Ferdinand Macy, descendent of original settlers of Nantucket where he worked.
The Bradford Trust also showed “Commercial Street, Provincetown” by Philadelphia Ten artist Nancy Maybin Ferguson who also painted the Outer Cape.
American Decorative Arts of Canaan, N.H., which specializes in Shaker, showed a Mission side chair side by side with a child’s Mission Morris chair that the dealers said was the earliest example they had ever seen.
Richard E. Vandall and Wayne R. Adams were thrilled with the show. They said, “This is the greatest show we’ve ever had here.” By midday of the second day of the event they had sold 20 pieces that included four mission chairs, one mission clock, a set of Heintz bud vases, two Shaker chairs and three Shaker baskets, in addition to several other sales.
Rick Bevilaqua of Essex Antiquarians, in Essex, Mass., was pleased to demonstrate the circa 1800 English mahogany chamber horse that he had for sale. The chamber horse is said to have been devised in around 1740 by one Dr George Cheyne, who weighed 448 pounds, and used the device for exercise.
Bevilaqua also offered a three-part camphorwood and brass campaign desk, a handsome ebony and ivory tea caddy and a knife box.
A mid Eighteenth Century maple and tiger maple chest on chest was front and center in the Wolfeboro, N.H., dealer Birch Knoll Antiques’ booth. It was a circa 1790 Rhode Island piece that retained the original brasses. A Connecticut cherry oxbow chest with four drawers was made in 1800 and attracted much interest. A Sheraton mahogany sofa table from about 1790 had a rounded rectangular top with inlay and was nicely carved.
Sold stickers adorned several pieces in the W.M. Schwind booth early in the show. The Yarmouth, Maine, dealer also showed a Chippendale tiger maple slant lid desk with nice dovetailing from between 1780 and 1800. Two cases of good vintage jewelry attracted no little attention.
New Canaan, Conn., dealer Jane McClafferty showed desirable Staffordshire of high appeal. An English walnut corner chair from about 1780 was of interest as well.
Dealer David Brooker of Woodbury, Conn., was beaming as visitors worked their way through his booth hung with fine pictures and crowded with visitors, “I’ve sold three paintings to new clients!”
The booth of the Boston Art Club, now in its 153rd year, was teeming with visitors. Many were drawn to a particular prize: the rare black and white 1837 lithograph “The National Lancers with the Reviewing Officers on Boston Common” by Fitz Henry Lane. Another Boston view was an 1848 China Trade memorial to General Joseph Warren with an image of the Bunker Hill monument. John Curuby was justifiably enthusiastic about the show. “It’s been wonderful,” he said as he gestured to the show at large. “So many positive people!” He had sold 15 paintings by the second day of the show.
Landry and Arcari Carpets of Boston and Salem has exhibited at the Peabody Essex Show for 15 years and Jerry Arcari pronounced this year’s event “the best show we’ve had.” They sold two rugs during the preview and three more by midday of the second day.
David A. Weston came from Cranbrook, Kent, in England with a fine range of fire tools that attracted interest. A set of fire tools and a screen with owls sold early.
An elm wake table that was about nine feet in length was made between 1860 and 1880 in the style of the late Seventeenth Century had double gate legs and sturdy leaves to support a body. It took up much of the booth of Robert Burrows Antiques of Chapel Hill, N.C. It was surrounded by eight graceful Regency dining chairs made around 1815–1820.
Hanes and Ruskin offered an Eighteenth Century Rhode Island Queen Anne highboy juxtaposed with a wall filled with silhouettes. The Old Lyme, Conn., dealers also showed a circa 1840 tiger maple drop leaf table with finely carved legs.
Akin Lighting of Raleigh, N.C., had some really fine Art Deco lighting, including an alabaster chandelier and a Deco glass and metal ceiling lamp. The dealer also showed a set of six jazzy red dining chairs that a lot of people had their eyes on.
For information, call Betsy Weisman at the Peabody Essex Museum at 978-745-9500.