Review And Photos by Rick Russack
WELLS, MAINE — The temperature was 77 degrees, not a cloud was in the sky and the parking lot had hundreds of cars June 26. The gate, up 15 to 20 percent from previous years, was one that many show promoters would have loved. It was also the kind of a show where both the dealers and the promoters could make money.
Shortly after the 16th annual edition of the Wells Outdoor Antiques Show opened at Laudholm Farm, buyers could be seen carrying bags and moving small furniture to their cars. About 100 dealers were spread between three large tents, a two-story barn and numerous individual tents. The exhibitor list was impressive, including many of the Americana dealers usually seen at major indoor shows.
Goosefare Promotions is a family-run business with John and Liz DeSimone at the head. They now run about 12 shows a year in Maine and Massachusetts. Their first show was in Westbrook, Maine, in 1972 followed by Kennebunkport in 1973 and that show is still running. They will be back in Portland in October, after a ten-year absence from that city. John DeSimone said “We started in the business doing some of the Sonia Paine and Sarah French shows. At that time, there weren’t any shows in Maine so we decided to give it a try. It grew from there. One of our upcoming shows, Camden, Maine, is very much like the Wells show, also with a good exhibitor list.”
Merchandise available included stoneware that was offered in several booths, along with decoys, hooked rugs, wooden ware, American furniture, nautical items such as ship models and paintings, folk art, ceramics, textiles, toys, pewter, trade signs, cast iron garden furniture and many interesting one-of-a-kind items. For example, Dennis Raleigh, Wiscasset, Maine, had a stoneware crock made in Rochester, with a large “4” surrounded by a feathered wreath.
Lew Scranton, Killingworth, Conn., also had several stoneware crocks and jugs. Stone Block Antiques, Vergennes, Vt., offered a group of six solitaire boards, most with clay marbles. Stephen-Douglas Antiques, Rockingham, Vt., had a selection of cast iron still banks. Mario Pollo, Holliston, Mass., had four pieces of cast iron garden furniture priced at $3,000. Martha Boynton, Groton, Mass., brought a good burl bowl and she priced it at $2,000.
Business was brisk and several dealers commented that the pre-show selling was strong. Barbara Adams, South Yarmouth, Mass., said, “The pre-show business is getting better. We were able to buy well and we sold well. That pre-show activity has been missing for a while.” In support of Adam’s comment, Ian McKelvey, South Windham, Conn., had about 25 pieces of bamboo furniture. It was almost all gone by the time the show opened. Justin Cobb, Amherst, Mass., dealer, said that he had sold a particularly nice silkie. “They’re like woolies but made with silk instead of wool. This one showed the seal of the state of Massachusetts and the state’s motto which translates to ‘The Seal of the Republic of Massachusetts.’ The state seal has changed a number of times over the years. Early ones included Indians and one was designed by Paul Revere.”
Brian Cullity, Sandwich, Mass., had some early German stoneware and a particularly nice pair of Staffordshire pitchers. Each had floral decoration, and was gilded and lettered, within a decorative scroll, “A Present From The Potteries.” One also had the wording “Mary Lownds Aged 57” and the other had the wording “Hannah Lownds Aged 22” and both included the date, 1857. Members of the Lownds family were potters in Staffordshire and presumably these pitchers were for the wife and daughter of the potter and most likely made by the family pottery.
Steve Corrigan and Doug Jackman, Rockingham, Vt., were set up in the barn. A large Welsh dresser had several pieces of English and American pewter on offer. A large mocha pitcher was priced at $750 and a carved and painted game board was marked $345. Also in the barn, Tom Newcomber had an Eighteenth Century lift top blanket chest and several chopping bowls. Sandy Jacobs, Swampscott, Mass., included a selection of Staffordshire children’s mugs.
Bob and Tina Mortimer, Falmouth, Maine, had a 2-gallon stoneware crock, made in Portland. They also had several pieces of mocha, including a pepper pot and a small seaweed pattern pitcher. While discussing their mocha, they noted they had sold a piece of mocha photographed by Antiques and The Arts Weekly at a previous show.
Joyce and Ron Bassin, Bird in Hand Antiques, Florham Park, N.J., specialize in Grenfell mats and rugs and decoys. Several of each were in the booth along with a large wallpaper hatbox and a bronze figure of an elephant signed and dated P.J. Mene, 1870. Mene was one of the European pioneers of animal sculpture in the Nineteenth Century. It was priced at $495, well below the prices that his bronzes have sold for at auction.
John Prunier, Warren, Mass., deals in early English ceramics, delft, Oriental porcelain and other early items. He offered a pair of Dutch delft bowls decorated with figures possibly representing the seasons or senses for $600, while a large delft charger was $700. He also had a very unusual iron and brass fireplace trammel.
“We got lucky with the weather this year,” said John DeSimone after the show. “We weren’t that lucky with the last three years and strong winds and rain forced us to close last year’s show in the early afternoon, which was good because a little while later the winds took down one of the tents, which fortunately was just about empty by then. The attendance was excellent this year and there were a lot of younger buyers. Both buyers and exhibitors traveled good distances to be here. The biggest surprise to me was the amount of furniture that was going out. I think we’re seeing a turnaround in the business. Space at nearly all of our upcoming Maine shows is sold out.”
For additional information, www.goosefareantiques.com or 800-641-6908.