Published: June 24, 2008
The Annual Outdoor Ridgefield Antiques Market marked its 46th anniversary here June 7 at the historic 1896 Lounsbury House, bringing more than 70 antiques dealers from all over the Northeast. Opening at 8 am †before the start of an early June heat wave could take the starch out of the day’s shoppers †the outdoor show, which is managed by Corinne Burke, ran until 4 pm. Several dealers reported brisk sales up until noontime when oppressive heat began to thin the crowd.
Proceeds from the event benefit the ongoing restoration of the Lounsbury House, also known as the Ridgefield Community Center, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
“Despite the unusually hot weather †at least, no rain †the gas crunch and the economic worries on everyone’s mind, we thought this was a great show with nearly 900 at the gate. A wonderful variety of quality collectibles, interesting pieces and furniture items made for a diverse show with something for everyone,” said Lounsbury House’s executive director Stephanie Pelletier.
Complementing the antiques show this year was Ridgefield’s own 300th anniversary celebration, which features a self-guided tour of many of the town’s historic landmarks, including the stately Main Street mansion that provides the perfect backdrop for the popular annual antiques show. It was built by former governor of Connecticut Phineas C. Lounsbury to replicate the Connecticut State Building he visited at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
Of course, 300 years for any American town, while impressive, pales in comparison to the historical timeline of China, the source of many items displayed by Gail Ensinger of Surfside Beach, S.C. Many of the Chinese items in her collection have been rescued from areas that would be flooded as a result of the Three Gorges Dam being built across the Yangzte River. Prominent among the items she displayed was a Quan Yin feminine deity, known in Chinese lore as the goddess of mercy. The magnificent white marble carving, probably from the earlier part of the Twentieth Century, depicted the symbol of motherhood, creativity and compassion with a lutelike musical instrument in her arms and a child at her feet.
Also attracting attention, perhaps due to its useful size and $795 price tag, was an antique Chinese small painted chest featuring two upper drawers over a two-door cupboard, circa 1880. Atop it was a Thai temple carving of a horse, circa 1860, and an archaic oxcart wheel from Eighteenth Century Thailand. “We sold our acupuncture figures, as well as an old baker’s table from China †elm wood, single plank top, simple, even primitive. Lots of people liked it,” said Ensinger after the show.
The early June “dog day” was just another day for Jaime, the black Scottie attending the show with its owners, dealers Arthur and Michelle Gordon of A. Harris Gordon. The pair from Tarrytown, N.Y., returned with their “summer collection” of decorative garden items and lighting, including a pair of pineapple-form alabaster lamps, a desk example and a bronze candelabra.
David Lowe, a Hackettstown, N.J., dealer operating as Across the Pond Antiques, was back again with a sampling of the more than 1,500 sets of tobacco cards he has assembled over the past 13 years. Professionally framed and mounted †a special mount that permits viewing of the backsides of the cards as well, the collections range from film stars, farmyard animals, sports heroes, national flags, birds, butterflies and a host of other subject areas. A 1936 set of Ardath Cigarette cards themed “Who Is This?” portrayed British film stars with cropped faces to reveal just the eyes, nose and mouth.
Nearby, Marilyn Saland, Scarsdale, N.Y., had already made three early sales, including a Nineteenth Century Staffordshire dog and a vintage sand pail collection. She and her husband, Ron, were displaying a cherry Sheraton one drawer workstand, circa 1830, and an Eighteenth Century Delaware Valley maple ladder back chair with arch carved slats, bun feet and pegged joinery.
They are not antiques, but the colorful and grotesque face jugs by Bill Flowers, a self-taught artist from North Carolina, have been finding a market since he began making his first examples in the early 1980s. They are even found in the collection of the Smithsonian, according to John Eagle, the Warrensburg, N.Y., dealer who carried several examples to the show. “I met him [Flowers] about 19 years ago and we became friends,” said Eagle. “He saves some of his production for me, and I am the only one in New England that shows them.”
A selection of Hartford, Conn., crocks and jugs were nested snugly inside a vintage ice stand in a crusty green-over-red paint. Including a Seymour & Goodwin two-gallon crock, circa 1840s, and a Thomas Goodwin two-gallon ovoid jug, the collection belonged to Dominick and Susan DeBiasi of Rocky Hill, Conn. The dealers were also offering a nice cherry table, probably Rhode Island, with reeded legs on casters, circa 1820s.
Another interesting antique with Connecticut connections was an early Nineteenth Century iron nipping press being shown by Applied Arts by Design of Daytona Beach, Fla. The press, carrying a plaque identifying it as from the “Standard Machinery Company, Mystic River, Conn., ” resembled a book press, but was designed to put the crease in a book’s pages before the bindery operation.
“The Friendly Staff of 30B,”aka Janet Sherwood and Bonnie Ferriss, were on hand to show their collection of early American garden antiques and smalls, such as figurative sprinklers, doorstops and architectural elements. “Bon and I didn’t know what to expect of the show, as it had been a few years since we had attended,” said Sherwood, who with Ferriss sells out of a group shop called Antiques at 30B in Cambridge, N.Y.
“Also, we were concerned that the blistering weather forecast and tepid economy might keep folks away. The crowds were not heavy, though diehard dealers and collectors kept up a steady stream most of the day. We sold an exceptional piece of mid-Nineteenth Century folk art that we had picked up just the day before from an estate sale. We were also able to buy a few things at the show, two of which we sold the following day at the garden show in Darien.”
A rare Eighteenth Century book of hand colored prints of shells and minerals was priced at $38,000 at Maile’s Antiques. The Colonia, N.J.-based business of Maile Allen specializes in antique maps and prints, and this example, only one of 30 that were produced in color by European artist Anna Marie Merian, was printed in 1711.
Ed and Sheila Hylan, Southbury, Conn., found a country cupboard from York County, Penn., circa 1840‵0, that exhibited all the hallmarks †hand planing, square nails, mortised †plus a great size. A country store apothecary, also from Pennsylvania, circa 1860‱870, had dovetail construction, square nails, bun feet, walnut top and transfer decals with the names of Nineteenth Century remedies.
An early trencher made from a single piece of wood was seen being loaded into a station wagon by a happy shopper. Just moments before, it had been among the early American collection of Rob and Vida Barbo, the Pound Ridge, N.Y., dealers who operate as All Your Yesterdays.
For information, 203-438-6962 or www.lounsburyhouse.com .
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