When a big antiques show changes venues, as the Philadelphia Antiques Show has done two times, moving from its many years in the 33rd Street Armory to the Navy Pier, and then four years later going into the Pennsylvania Convention Center, there are major concerns and fears on the part of both the dealers and the show committee. But they all washed away quickly, and the move to the convention center this April went well. In fact, Josh Wainwright, the show manager, with his wife Sandy, said, “It was the smoothest move in and move out we have ever had.”
The center is equipped with eight loading docks and a ramp, and dealers were assigned times of entry, (Chris Rebollo was the first in) and leaving was scheduled according to the time a dealer finished packing up the inventory. Select Contracting furnished the solid wood walls, and all were painted, not papered. And to make walking and standing around easy on the feet, the entire space used †70,000 square feet †was carpeted. This year the show had 57 booths, some of extra large size, and “we took advantage of the space the center had to offer and gave the dealers extra room if they requested it,” Josh said. In total, about 125,000 feet were available.
“We put endless hours and lots of money into the show this year, wanting to prove that the change of venue was great for the show and everything looked just right. And I think we did it,” Joan Johnson, retiring loan exhibit chair for the past 38 years, said. Actually, everyone liked the show, showered it with kudos, and it was probably best praised by collector Jerry Lauren, who said, “It is spectacular.”
And he was right. The dealers were offered eight colors of paint to choose from for the booths, some concessions from the union made the show more comfortable for the exhibitors, two bars and a coffee lounge/food service were in operation all during the show, the aisles were extra wide, and best of all, the dealers went all out with what they brought and arranged it in most attractive booths and room settings. The only restriction for the exhibitors was that no object could be offered that was by a living artist or artisan.
There is really nothing more of any great importance that can be done to improve this show. Oh, maybe one thing, but the committee is well aware of it. The booth signs became almost unreadable when the overhead aisle lights were turned out. A new design has been promised for next year.
All sorts of bronze animals roamed about the booth of Red Fox Fine Art, Middleburg, Va., sculptures that included a seated dog by Francois H. Peyrol, French (1856‱929), measuring 24½ by 13 inches and signed H. Peyrol.
A mid-Nineteenth Century worsted wool New England appliquéd table mat hung on the back wall in the booth of Jeff and Holly Noordsy Art & Antiques, Cornwall, Vt. Below it, a long shelf held an assembled collection of 18 New England chestnut bottles blown between 1790 and 1820. “We put two collections together to make this group, paying strict attention to the shape of the bottle and the length of the neck,” Jeff said. When all was said and done, the bottles were perfectly graduated and “we still had about another 18 to begin another graduated set.” He added, “The bottles, including the shelf, sold to a collector who did not have any glass in his collection.”
The Herrs of Lancaster, Penn., had several very colorful quilts covering the walls of their booth, including a pieced and appliqué example from the Centennial period, cotton, with the portrait of George Washington occupying the center square. That piece was cut from a flag and the quilt came down in the Kread family of Manheim, Penn. An interesting piece of folk art, displayed under plexi at the front of the booth, was a fox hunting group carved and painted by George D. Wolfskill (1872‱946), from Fivepointville in Lancaster County. This scene, with hunters on horseback following hounds in pursuit of a fox, was from the Machmer collection.
In addition to their own vast inventory of needlework, Carol and Stephen Huber of Old Saybrook, Conn., were pleased to offer 37 pieces that were passed at Sotheby’s auction of the Betty Ring collection, many of which were displayed at the show. Attracting attention at the center of their booth was a wool, silk and watercolor on silk piece of George Washington’s Mount Vernon by Charlotte Bruce, New York City, circa 1825. It measured 27 by 37 inches, in the original frame, and the title of the piece was inscribed on the bottom of the glass.
Two related samplers included a view of St Joseph’s Academy, Emmitsburg, Md., silk, chenille, watercolor and paint on silk, a circa 1820‱825 work measuring 18½ by 23 inches, and a mourning sampler that had a view of St Joseph’s Academy in the lower right background. Asked on Saturday evening how the show was going, Stephen answered, “Very well for us, we sold eight samplers during preview and today.”
A large collection of English furniture filled the booth of Georgian Manor Antiques, Fairhaven, Mass., including a George III mahogany and brass bound octagonal cellaret on stand, circa 1790, and an English Regency tilt top breakfast table in mahogany with rich brown patina, circa 1820. An unusual George III étagère in mahogany, circa 1800, measured 45 inches high, 18 inches wide and 16 inches deep. When Enrique “Ricky” Goytizolo finished designing his booth, he had left only a single, narrow path to follow when entering and leaving the booth. When asked about it, he had a very simple answer: “I have additional stock in the back, do you think I need more?” He also mentioned, “I have done this show for 34 years and it has never looked better.”
Jeffrey Tillou Gallery of Litchfield, Conn., hung an attractive portrait of a young girl in red dress holding a basket of flowers, American school, probably Massachusetts or possibly Rhode Island, an oil on canvas measuring 40¾ by 34¼ inches. It came from a private collection in Hudson, N.Y. A Chippendale slant front desk in walnut and birch, circa 1775‱785, was probably from Massachusetts or possibly Rhode Island, and the portrait of the ship Annie was attributed to Thomas Willis, American school, New York City, circa 1900. This oil on canvas, with stitched fabric and velvet for the vessel, measured 29½ by 42 inches.
Samuel Herrup of Sheffield, Mass., who had three different colors for his booth walls, showed a fine one-drawer blanket chest in green painted surface, applied molding around the front of the chest, circa 1820, measuring 36 inches high, 46 inches wide and 18 inches deep, from South Shore, Mass. “I bought that fish weathervane for the patina,” Sam said, speaking of a gold wash over copper body vane, 30 inches long, circa 1890, attributed to J.W. Fiske, New York. A tilt top tea table in cherry with tripod base was attributed to the Chapin family of Hartford, circa 1780‱791. It measured 28½ inches high, with a top that measured 38½ by 39¼ inches.
Olde Hope Antiques of New Hope, Penn., had several pieces of wood sculptures in the booth, including a cigar store Indian chief attributed to Samuel Robb, New York City, circa 1886‱890. It was of carved pine with an undisturbed painted and varnish finish, 56 inches high, but lacking the base. An English ship’s figurehead “Mary Ann,” a house servant, dated from the mid-Nineteenth Century and was of carved pine with the original polychrome surface.
Schwarz Gallery of Philadelphia had a wonderful oil on canvas by Dr James S. Hill of “Sleighing in Buck’s County,” 1869, that measured 26 by 42 inches and was signed and dated lower right, “J.S. Hill/1869.” Hill was a Philadelphia physician who worked in the 1860s and exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Rubens Peale (American, 1784‱865), was represented in the booth with “Still Life with Watermelon,” an oil on canvas that measures 19 by 27 inches. It was in a period Thomas A. Wilmurt frame, signed lower right, and inscribed on canvas verso “Rubens Peale / aged 80 / years / Aug 1864.”
Cora Ginsburg, New York City, and Jan Whitlock Textiles & Interiors, West Chester, Penn., combined forces and presented a wonderful selection of rare fabrics, highlighted by a Castelo Branco coverlet with tree of life and human figures, worked in silk floss on a linen ground. It is Portuguese, dates from the Eighteenth Century, and measures 86 by 70½ inches.
C.L. Prickett of Yardley, Penn., was at the front of the show, very similar placement to the booth at the Winter Antiques Show, New York City, and it was dominated by furniture made in Pennsylvania, six pieces in all. A Chippendale tilt top candlestand with molded dish top, vase and ring turned standard and cabriole legs ending in ball and claw feet was in mahogany, Philadelphia origin, circa 1770 and measuring 28¼ inches high with a 22-inch-diameter top. Also made in Philadelphia was a Chippendale carved and figured mahogany lowboy with molded top and notched corners, the lower center drawer carved with shell and streamers, cabriole legs with acanthus carved knees ending in ball and claw feet. It dated circa 1760.
Hyland Granby Antiques, Hyannis Port, Mass., centered a portrait of the USN Pennsylvania on the back wall of the booth, an oil on canvas that measures 25 by 40 inches sight, 33½ by 48½ inches framed, by Thomas Birch (American, 1779‱851). It was dated circa 1837. Leaving the predominant nautical flavor of the booth was a painted pine birdhouse in the form of a large church, 56 inches high, 29¼ inches wide and 20¼ inches deep. It was in old yellow paint and had a steeple topped by a small weathervane. A selection of doorstops was displayed on the steps of a ladder, and included Old Salt in two sizes, a rare lighthouse, a witch, Little Red Riding Hood, a ship and a windmill. All were cast iron and retained the original painted surface.
Raccoon Creek from Oley, Penn., had one of the large booths and filled it with carvings, painted furniture, a selection of fabrics and lots of smalls. The standout piece, however, was a large sculpture by Noah Weiss, circa 1870‱880, titled “Birds in the Woods.” This carved and polychrome work came from Berks County and was magical with a large mirror surrounded by trees and birds, all colorful, fanciful and entertaining. In addition to the large center piece, two side panels fashioned as tree stumps with foliage and birds flanked the main piece. It was difficult to move away from this piece, but also offered was a miniature blanket chest from Berks County with brown sponge decoration over the original salmon ground, circa 1840‱860. A New Jersey folk art shelf with whimsical design and original paint and shellacked surface dated circa 1780‱790.
Attracting attention from most everyone, including those who do not fancy Pennsylvania furniture, was the Lebanon County stenciled and paint decorated blanket chest over one drawer in the booth of Philip H. Bradley Co., Downingtown, Penn. It featured seven tombstone decorations, two on the lid, three on the front of the chest, and one on each end. It was all original and measured 31½ inches high, 84 inches long and 24 inches deep. A Windsor settee, either Pennsylvania or Maryland, was in early paint, circa 1790‱810, and measured 84 inches long.
Collectors of tobacco store figures were happy to find a few examples in the booth of Kelly Kinzle, New Oxford, Penn., including a Jack Tar figure, circa 1830‱840, a sailor with a long-stem pipe, carved and painted pine, measuring 41 inches high. Another figure was a countertop black man with red shirt, green pants and bare feet, holding a bunch of cigars in one hand and another cigar in his mouth. It was of American origin and measured 28½ inches high, 14 inches wide and 14 inches deep.
A boldly decorated stepback cupboard, New York State, circa 1870, with two panel doors on top and two in the lower section, measuring 82 inches high, 50 inches wide and 19½ inches deep at the bottom, 11¾ inches deep at the top, was in the booth of Elliott and Grace Snyder of South Egremont, Mass. A paint decorated chest of drawers, attributed to Thomas Matteson & South Shaftsbury Vermont Group was grain painted, dated circa 1825, and was of popular and pine.
A set of six Windsor armchairs with pipe stem turned brace back and mahogany arms, rare upholstered seats, circa 1760‱785, in the original condition with undisturbed black paint over green, was in the booth of Nathan Liverant and Son, LLC, Colchester, Conn. The set surrounded a rare William and Mary pine and maple hutch table with a large, round scrubbed pine top and bulbous turned base with scrolled hand holds. It was of New England origin and dated circa 1750‱875. Other furniture included a Queen Anne figured maple drop leaf table with straight turned legs ending in turned pad feet. It dated circa 1745‱770 and was from either Newport or South County, R.I.
A large carousel horse by Gustav Dentzel, outside row with eagle carved cantle, old park paint, circa 1890, and made in Philadelphia, was in the display of Fred Giampietro, New Haven, Conn. A cast iron snake in old painted surface, possibly a fountain, American, circa 1890, was at the front of the booth, and standing against a panel of the booth was a tall figure of the Statue of Liberty, painted plaster and metal, signed Voight and dated 1918.
Bryn Mawr, Penn., dealer Diana H. Bittel brought her pet Lab retriever to the show, a full-size cast iron dog that measures 30 inches high and 48 inches long, old painted surface, but with no foundry marks. A collection of walking sticks, or canes, was carved with a variety of heads, including female legs, dogs and frogs, and many of the pieces were wound with carved snakes. The painting of “Adam Naming The Animals,” one of four known, executed on tin tray with a stenciled border, English, circa 1820, hung center on the back wall of the booth.
Peter H. Eaton, American furniture, and Joan R. Brownstein, America folk paintings, Newbury, Mass., offered a large selection of furniture and works of art, including a Federal four-drawer chest with deeply shaped front skirt, flaring French feet, mahogany, circa 1800‱810, from the Mid-Atlantic, Bangor, Maine. A Queen Anne breakfast table with serpentine top, molded edges, compressed urn cantering the shaft, deeply carved cabriole legs with highly arched knees ending in pad feet, was in mahogany with cherry cleats. It was from the North Shore, Mass, circa 1770‱780, and the top measured 35 by 35½ inches. A pair of small watercolor portraits, marked sold, were attributed to Rufus Porter, New Hampshire or Maine, circa 1825, measuring 5 by 3½ inches sight.
Arader Galleries, Philadelphia, offered six Audubons from The Birds of America , including a rare first state of the great American cock male, 25½ by 38½ inches paper size. Other Audubons included Snowy Owl, American Flamingo and Carolina Parrot.
One of the most colorful and fanciful works of art in the show hung in the booth of Ricco/Maresca, New York City, titled “Saltimbanques” by Alexander Calder, a gouache on paper, 43 by 29½ inches, with four acrobats, dated 1974 and signed Calder in bold lettering. A carved wooden cane with the figure of a gentleman and a serpent, two cages with movable balls inside, carved wood and polychrome, 39 inches long and dating from the late Nineteenth Century, was touted as “the best cane ever,” by Frank Maresca. An ink and watercolor painting of the Philadelphia Public Ledger, artist unknown, dated 1866 and measuring 29 by 48 inches, was sold and went into a fine Philadelphia collection.
Earle D. Vandekar of Knightsbridge, Inc, White Plains, N.Y., had a massive Eighteenth Century gilded carved wooden eagle, probably from Lombardy, Italy, 83-inch wingspan, 30 inches high, that dominated one end of the booth. Nearby, a portion of the back wall was covered with a set of 12 China Trade watercolors of birds on pith paper, circa 1840‱860, in bright colors and measuring 12¾ by 17½ inches. “I love the work of Ralph E. Cahoon Jr, and buy every painting when I get a chance,” Paul Vandekar said. Featured in the booth this time was an oil on Masonite by Cahoon titled “Cape Cod Jellies and Jams.”
A selection of flags and some paint decorated folk art brightened the booth of Jeff R. Bridgman American Antiques of York County, Penn. A 34-star Civil War flag with rare diamond configuration dated circa 1861‱863 and had an applied banner across the bottom reading “We Love Every Star and Stripe.” Three hand painted banners hung side by side, each representing a different state and decorated with stars and stripes, the state seal and a state-related scene. At the show, banners were for Delaware, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
James M. Kilvington, Inc, Dover, Del., offered a Queen Anne looking glass of monumental scale, circa 1750, possibly Philadelphia, that descended in the Ridgely family of Dover, Del. A sold tag hung on a large rare wood carved swan in the original state of preservation, the work of R. Madison Mitchell, Havre de Grace, Md., circa 1950.
Stephen Score of Boston had a brightly crocheted table cloth, very colorful with people and bird decoration, and in perfect condition, circa 1920‱930, that looked as if had never been used. A beautifully wood carved figure of a minister, with folded hands, was of painted pine, circa 1870, and measured 8 inches high.
It was not hard to spot the booth of Greg K. Kramer & Co., Robesonia, Penn.; you just had to head for the large white cow that stood outside the booth. This piece, a bit larger than life-size, was attributed to Samuel Robb, 195 Canal Street, New York City, circa 1881, and spent part of its life at Coney Island. Called the “inexhaustible cow,” it had a hollow center fitted for large cans of milk on ice that was dispensed through spigots attached to a wooden udder for five cents a glass. A Pennsylvania German walnut schrank that was found in Northampton County was “a new discovery,” said Greg. Towards the front of the booth was a set of six decorated Windsor plank-seat side chairs with rare black smoke decoration on a vibrant green ground. Each had polychrome tole floral and leaf decoration and were in exceptional condition, dating from the mid-Nineteenth Century and from Berks County.
And, as if the show were not enough, the committee goes all out obtaining a loan exhibit. This year the entrance area was filled with antiques from the nation’s first hospital, the Pennsylvania Hospital, established in 1751. “Where History Meets Medicine” offered a look at some of the things that, over the years, became a part of the hospital, including furniture, personal objects such as watches, fine art and rare books and manuscripts.
Some of the objects included the Rittenhouse clock, once the property of David Rittenhouse, a skilled clockmaker; a large portrait of Benjamin Rush, who moved to Philadelphia in 1769 and set up a practice and began teaching at the College of Philadelphia (now University of Pennsylvania); a hand-operated fire pump, the first fire engine used by the hospital; Dr Philip Syng Physick’s pocket watch, made in Geneva in the late Eighteenth Century and still working; marble bust of Benjamin Franklin, co-founder of Pennsylvania Hospital; and a painting showing the south east view of the Pennsylvania Hospital, a work attributed to Thomas Birch as part of his series “Views of Philadelphia'” (1799‱800).
This year, due to the venue change, the Philadelphia Antiques Show ran late in the month of April, opening with a preview on the 27th and running for four more days, closing on May 1. Next year the show is moving back to the first part of April, previewing on the 12th and closing on the 16th. Mark your calendar and plan to attend. You will be glad you did.