Published: October 29, 2002
By R. Scudder Smith
PHILADELPHIA, PENN. — “We worked hard on this show, and we think it looked beautiful,” Frank Gaglio of Barn Star Productions said of his on October 18-20. This show opened with a preview on Friday night for the Children’s Crisis Treatment Center, and “it was very poorly attended and supported by the group,” Frank said.
The opening of the preview was scheduled for 6 pm and at 5:30 only one person was waiting. Charles Santore, noted authority on the Windsor chair, commented, “I rushed over here expecting to be somewhere in line outside of the building, and here I am the first and only one in line.” He was, however, shortly joined by his wife and Philadelphia collector Joan Johnson, along with a few others when the doors opened. All in all, under 100 people came to the opening, causing Frank Gaglio to speculate that if a preview is in order for the next time, “it will have to be an organization that gets behind it and works.”
Attendance over the next two days “was fair, not great,” according to management. Those who did not come to this show missed a good one. Not only was it good looking, but also was filled with lots of temptation. Prices seemed a bit steep overall, but as any dealer will tell you, “There is not a great deal out there and when something wonderful comes along, it is not cheap.”
Visually, the show got off to a grand start with an exhibit of early bird houses in the foyer of the 23rd Street Armory. These folk art pieces were from the collection of Dr Roger and Alyce Rose of Westchester, N.Y., and each was in the original surface, mostly well-worn paint. Some of the houses were built to resemble actual structures, and others were products of the imagination. In conjunction with this exhibit, Frank Gaglio donated an early bird house for the show’s raffle, another benefit for the Crisis Center. When the winning ticket was drawn on Sunday, Alyce Rose’s name was read and another bird house was added to the collection. “Makes it easy for me,” Frank said, “as I have to deliver these other houses back to their home and one more won’t make any difference.”
The booths of Fred Giampietro and Peter Eaton welcomed visitors onto the floor, and each was well appointed with interesting things. Most people were drawn into Fred’s booth first to have a look at his architect’s model of a Cape May, N.J., Victorian “painted lady.” This scale model was complete with turrets, fancy windows, all manner of trim and porches, all painted in the style of homes in Cape May. It dated 1880, was perfectly lighted, and sat on a base about four feet square. Several trade signs were offered as well, including one of a carved wooden hand from Ohio, painted, circa 1875, probably used by a palmist, and a Fresh Fish & Oysters sign from eastern United State, circa 1875, with a blackboard on the lower section that was for recording both the catch of the day and the price.
On the left side of the front section was a collection of early furniture shown by Peter Eaton of Newburyport, Mass. Well positioned at the front of the booth was a little gem, a small Hepplewhite card table in as found condition, original red surface, of birch, pine and whitewood. It dated circa 1800-20 and was found “deserted” in a barn in New Hampshire. A country Sheraton card table of birch, with bowed front and rounded corners, old color, was probably of New Hampshire origin, circa 1800-10. It was bought out of an old Maine collection. A Chippendale chest of drawers had a bold cornice molding, well developed bracket base, and was all original including both the surface and the brasses. It was of figured maple and pine, circa 1770-80, and came out of a house on the North Shore, Mass.
A large area of the armory in the back corner was filled with objects from the shop of Francis Purcell, one of the local dealers. His booth is never without a mantel and one of the two offered came from a home in the Hudson River Valley. It was of clear pine and dated circa 1805-15. A 5-foot 9-inch dining or hunt drop leaf table, Irish or English, George II, was of mahogany with straight swing legs, and a set of eight side chairs were of the Federal period, Boston, with old patina. The crest rails were carved with Athenean Paterae.
Sherman, Conn., exhibitor Holden Antiques had the perfect gift for a child named Ben. A small carousel horse, English, late Nineteenth Century, with the original paint, had the name BEN on the neck of the animal. An oil on board overmantel, signed F.T. Samerby (1814-1870), an American listed artist from Newburyport, Mass., depicted a country scene with mountains and a church in the background. It came out of a home in South Berwick, Maine. Of interest was an American wall shelf, Nineteenth Century, in tiger walnut and pine with S-curve supports. It had four shelves, circa 1830, and was from either New Jersey of New York.
A “White Spray” pond model, a gaff-rigged cutter, was shown in the booth of Portland Antiques of Portland, Maine. Furniture included a nice Federal tiger maple candlestand with bold turnings, circa 1800, of New England origin. Julie Lindberg Antiques, Wayne, Penn., had one of the outstanding weathervanes in show, a large bull, full bodied, by Cushing & Sons, circa 1875. Both sides of the vane revealed the original surface showing squares of applied gold gilt. Against the back wall of the booth was a lineup of six side chairs in yellow paint with decoration. They were from Worcester, Mass., by F. Brooks.
Painted furniture and accessories set off the booth of A Bird in Hand Antiques, Short Hills, N.J. A gray/blue painted surface was on a step back cupboard of New England origin, circa 1820-30, while a wall-mounted slant-top desk sported original blue over pine. This piece dated circa 1830 and was from Boone County, N.J.
John Sideli of Hillsdale, N.Y., was a late entry to the show, but came with a very eye-pleasing load of folk art and painted furniture. Against the back wall was an American country Sheraton settee, probably New York State, with the original rush seat and decoration. A boot maker’s trade sign offered “Boots Shined,” metal, double sided, circa 1875-80, while patriotic symbols were well-lit at the front of the booth including a wooden red, white and blue painted shield, and a flag weathervane with lightening rod termination.
A good number of sales was experienced by David Morley American Antiques, who offered a collection of country furniture and accessories. This Thomaston, Maine, dealer offered a Queen Anne chest of drawers in tiger maple and yellow pine, Massachusetts, circa 1740; a China Trade sea captain’s or supercargo’s desk with the stamp of “N. Scott,” circa 1820-40, and a small Chippendale blanket chest with till, bracket feet, circa 1760-80, of Pennsylvania origin.
Dick Costa and Dave Currier of Portsmouth, N.H., recorded a good show, with a number of sales on the first day. Adding to the look of the building’s foyer, they offered a New England bird house, white painted with steeples and clock, along with a Rhode Island fan window of wood with lead trimmings depicting swags and an eagle. “These were out of a small area of Rhode Island and do not appear in any other areas,” Dick Costa said of the piece. A set of six Philadelphia side chairs, painted and decorated, circa 1830, was possibly by furniture maker John Mitchell.
Since Sylvia Antiques, Inc, was from Nantucket, it was only natural that many of the pieces in the booth have that origin. Such was the case with a selection of six baskets, all by Nantucket makers, and two sailor-boy whirligigs. The fin bone of a whale formed a trade sign for W.E. Walsh, a tobacconist established in 1864. The major part of the back wall was consumed by a Georgian secretary bookcase in three pieces, 80 inches high and 45 inches wide.
If there had been more corners in her booth, it seems obvious that Jackie Radwin of San Antonio, Tex., would have brought another corner cupboard to the show. As it were she offered a two-piece Pennsylvania corner cupboard, yellow over red piece with reverse paneled doors and bracket base, circa 1840, in one corner, and a two-piece Nineteenth Century corner cupboard from Centre County, Penn., pumpkin painted surface, in the other. In addition a Nineteenth Century cloth doll sat proudly in a child’s arrow back chair, yellow painted with decoration, circa 1800-15. “I had lots of fun setting up this booth because all of the objects I brought were in strong colors,” Jackie said. She noted, “I spent a good deal of time making sure that one color went with the one next to it and was not fighting with it.”
A number of important fabrics were shown by Raccoon Creek, Bridgeport, N.J., including a folk art hooked rug on linen, circa 1870, alive with colorful swags, birds and flowers. A striking “bars” Amish quilt from Lancaster County, Penn., circa 1910, had bold quilting that included tulips and baskets, and of New Jersey origin was a stenciled and block printed counterpane on homespun, 80 by 94 inches. The tag noted “few of these textiles have survived in this condition.”
A country Chippendale secretary in maple and mahogany, stepped interior, high bracket feet, circa 1790, with a Southeastern Massachusetts origin, was eye-catching in the booth of Joan Brownstein of Brookline, Mass. Also offered was a child’s Windsor side chair with dished seat, molded pinched bow and shaped spindles, circa 1800, Philadelphia or Delaware, and an inlaid bow front chest of drawers attributed to William Lloyd. It was of cherrywood, circa 1800, with unusual flared French feet and volute carved brackets.
Samplers covered the walls in the booth of Van Tassel-Baumann American Antiques, Malken, Penn. One was executed by Miss M. Ann Frederica Scheibly, Chambersberg, July 1834, a silk picture of a church on a hillside and a memorial tomb in the foreground. A needlework from Chester County, Penn., was by Charlotte Morrison showing a house with trees in the center, surrounded by birds, flowers and butterflies.
To go with a hutch table in the original paint, as found condition, 48 inches in diameter, three- board top, was a set of assembled country Queen Anne vase back chairs, two arm and two side, circa 1780, brown paint with rush seats, in the booth of Chuck White Folk Art and Antiques, Mercer, Penn. Among the case pieces in this booth was a rare paint decorated pine Chippendale semitall chest of drawers, Pennsylvania, circa 1790-1810. It was noted that this chest was rare due to the use of walnut for most Chippendale pieces, and they were seldom painted.
Early English furniture was not plentiful at the show, except in the booth of Running Battle Antiques of Millbrook, N.Y. Among the pieces shown was a rare Charles II oak dresser with front simulated as all small drawers, when the actual configuration was a central cupboard with a set of drawers on either side. It rested on bun feet, measures 61 inches wide, and dated circa 1680. Of the same period was an oak chest with three drawers, applied split bobbin decoration, also on bun feet. A carved walnut armchair with sloping arms, circa 1680, had ornate carving on the back stretcher, front lags and front leg stretcher.
A Federal sideboard from New York State was against the back wall in the booth of Mark Keily, Dayton, Ohio. It was of mahogany and mahogany veneer, circa 1820. A small Baltimore fall front desk had linen drawers in the lower section and satinwood interior with mirrored prospect door, circa 1810.
Norma Chick of Autumn Pond Antiques, Woodbury, Conn., sold her of six yellow painted and decorated Windsor side chairs, as well as some of the Delft tiles she offered. One corner of the booth looked like a salesroom for weathervanes, filled with three horses, four roosters, two banners and two eagles. Set off to the front of the booth was a leaping stag vane of small size, with a fine surface. “People like the weathervanes, but the most attention has gone to my Canada goose decoy,” she said. The goose, of large size, had the original paint, circa 1925-30, and was attributed to Joseph Lincoln.
Norma’s major concern on Saturday morning had nothing to do with the show, but with her lack of The New York Times. “I asked Alden to go out and get me a copy, and he did, so I would have the crossword to do during the day. The only problem was he came back with Friday’s, and I had already done that one,” she said. Alden added, “and I paid a dollar for it.”
Judd Gregory came to the rescue, not with a current issue of the Times, but an offer to take Friday’s away. He did so, returning to his booth that showed a Queen Anne chest on frame in walnut, Pennsylvania origin, circa 1740-60, with a nice cod fish weathervane displayed on top. The vane dated from the Nineteenth Century and was possibly by Fiske. This Dorset, Vt., dealer had hung a recently acquired portrait of a gentleman holding a silver tipped cane, attributed to Ammi Phillips, circa 1830.
“I can’t say enough good things about the show,” David Smirnoff of From Here To Antiquity, Bethany, Conn. said. Preview night he sold three paintings, and by the end of the show more had come off the walls, along with sale of sculpture and furniture. Among the pictures sold were an interior view by Susan waters, a Picasso etching and a winter show scene by Elliott Clarke.
At the close of the show, based on very mixed sales and low attendance, questions were raised as to the future of this event. And not only was this question raised by some of the exhibitors, but by management as well.
“We handed out questionnaires to all of the dealers and we are going to study the answers and come up with answers,” Frank Gaglio said. He added, “Many of the dealers have indicated that they will give it another try, and we are encouraged by that.” And, as everyone seemed to agree, the potential is there and it is all up to getting the people out.
USArtists, one of the major art shows in the country, was at the same time, filling the 33rd Street Armory, only a few blocks away from the Gaglio show. The art show was well attended, but there did not seem to be the crossover hoped for. Frank did everything he could to draw that audience including a shuttle bus that ran every half hour, and signage in that area. “One of my signs that I had permission to post near their armory later has a USArtists ad attached,” Frank reported.
As antiques show go, this one is too good to drop. When all the economic factors are weighed in, however, Frank will have to call that shot. “I know one thing,” he said just after the show ended, “the next time there will be no lectures or appraisals. We are just going to give them a fine show, for bottom line, that is what today’s collectors want.”
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