Published: October 18, 2022
Review & Photos by Rick Russack
BATH, MAINE – The Bath show began more than 40 years ago and has seen several managers and locations over the years. It is now run by Gurley Antique Shows and its home is the easily accessible Bath Middle School. Siblings Rachel and Josh Gurley plan five more shows at the Bath location this fall and winter. It’s anticipated that each will have about 50 dealers.
The October 9 show was the first of the season and featured quality Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century American antiques, and other things. Attracting younger buyers is a goal of the show managers and to do that several exhibitors now bring and display mid-Twentieth Century decorative arts. The brother and sister team have been running shows for years, learning the business as teenagers from their mother, Nan Gurley. They also manage shows in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, with the Bath show drawing a number of exhibitors who only do the Maine shows.
Americana was predominant, but Asian items were available in several booths, as were holiday items, toys, paintings and prints, silver and a variety of other items.
Especially noteworthy were some outstanding pieces of burl. Josh Farrin, Gardner, Maine, had what from a distance looked to be an ash burl bowl with a rolled edge and the most desirable warm, dark coloring. But it wasn’t a bowl – it had no bottom and never did. Farrin explained that it was used to fill grain barrels, probably with a piece of cloth tied over the open base to filter the freshly milled grain as it was being poured into barrels. He was asking $1,500 for it. Tom Moser, Gray, Maine, also had two unusual burl pieces. One was a turned mortar and pestle, with both pieces being burl, also with good coloring, which he priced at $375. In addition, he had a burl scoop carved from one piece of wood. It’s an unusual form and it was priced $1,500.
As you would expect, there was a selection of American furniture. Bob Foley, Gray, Maine, was set up almost directly across from the admission table, so one of the first pieces you’d have seen would have been his drop-leaf table with claw and ball feet. It was not expensive, $350, and it was not very old. Foley said it was a bench-made reproduction, probably made in the 1940s by Kittinger of a table in the collection of Colonial Williamsburg. Beginning in 1937 Kittinger craftsmen, dressed in colonial costumes, worked in one of the buildings in Williamsburg’s historic district. Their finished furniture was displayed and sold in the “Forge and Wheel” craft shop along with reproduction glass, pewter, silver and other items based on the museum’s collections. Other pieces of furniture quickly had sold tags. Bill Gittes, Barrington, N.H., had a lift-top one-drawer blanket chest in old red paint with a sold tag. Chris Stanley, Bremen, Maine, sold a large captain’s sea chest with painted nautical scenes to another exhibitor’s.
There were sets of andirons offered in several booths; at least two sets were Eighteenth Century hand-forged knife-edge sets. One set with silvered urn-shaped finials was about 18 inches tall and belonged to Chris Stanley, who was asking $375. There were several pairs of brass andirons offered as well.
Midcentury items were in several booths. Brett Cabral, Salem, N.H., had several identified pieces of studio pottery. A brightly colored, spiral pattern covered bowl with rough surface by Nicholas Bernard was priced $195. Bernard now works in Scottsdale, Ariz. Cabral also had a colorful vase with painted faces by Denise Ford, circa 1974, priced $150. And he had a group of small bowls and vases made by Maine’s Blue Hill Pottery. Just to cover all the bases, he filled one table with a selection of painted wooden covered boxes and bowls. Josh and Rachel Gurley offered a midcentury lamp by an unidentified maker, with three art glass shades, priced $365. Bob Foley had a large, abstract painting that may have been done in the Caribbean region, for which he was asking $650.
After the show, Rachel Gurley commented, “We’re really working to broaden our attendees. We’ve always had a strong following of dealers and collectors who know they can buy at our shows. Now we’re doing whatever we can think of to get more retail buyers to our show – people looking for an interesting item to fit with their own décor. As part of this effort, a couple of days before the show, we distributed more than 300 free passes to stores and food places on Bath’s main street, and we distributed more in nearby Brunswick. We also had posters up in the school offering free admission to teachers and staff. The free passes and free admission for the school folks are good at any of our upcoming shows here. We had somewhere between 20 and 30 of the free passes brought in by buyers – so it works. The idea is to get customers for our dealers.”
Josh added, “One thing that we’re noticing, and it’s good, is that buyers are coming in steadily throughout the day. It’s not like it used to be when everyone had to be there at opening. I think that means we’re getting more retail buyers in. And we’re seeing that a good portion of the folks coming in throughout the day are the younger crowd. And we don’t charge admission to buyers under the age of 25.”
For additional information, www.gurleyantiqueshows.com.
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