Published: January 23, 2018
Review and Photos by Rick Russack
BOXBOROUGH, MASS. – You might say that Rachel and Josh Gurley’s Boxborough Antiques Show is a new one, or you might say that it is not. The brother and sister team is certainly not new to the antiques show business, having worked with their late mother, Nan Gurley, since they were children, and they manage other successful shows, including one at the Deerfield fairgrounds, part of New Hampshire Antiques Week. But the venue, the Boxboro Regency Hotel is new for them, although Nan Gurley ran shows there for several years. Josh Gurley said this show is planned as the first of a regular new series of shows, three a year. And it looked like a good start.
The show had about 35 dealers and there is definitely a theme to Gurley events. That theme is furniture, woodenware, textiles and other smalls of New England origins. Much of what dealers bring will be in old paint, and you can also expect to find hooked rugs, stoneware, redware, early ceramics that would have been used in New England homes, decoys, cloth dolls, folk art, etc. Most of the dealers know most of their customers and know how to price their merchandise so that it is likely to sell.
Outdoor temperatures at the start of the show on January 7 were below zero, but all the booths were filled. About 100 customers started to line up a half an hour before the show opened and dealers were selling within a few minutes of the opening. Mike and Lucinda Seward, Pittsford, Vt., sold an interesting carving of a Puritan-style angel that they had bought the day before at Bill Smith’s auction. Their sales included jewelry and silver. Other dealers who mentioned early sales were Stephen-Douglas, Sheila Robbins and Martha Boynton.
There were some things of which dealers were quite proud. Sandy Alexander, Somers, Conn., had a four-drawer bowfront chest that he said had been made by Felix Huntington, a cabinetmaker in Norwich, Conn., circa 1805-10. The construction of the chest was unusual in that it used cherry veneer over chestnut. Drawer bottoms and backboards were also chestnut. The chest, with original brasses, was priced at $1,950. Alexander said that he has one other piece of furniture by the same maker. Chipstone’s American Furniture, 2011, includes an article by Tom Kugelman devoted to Huntington’s work and confirms that he often used chestnut. Several pieces in museum collections are illustrated in Kugelman’s article. Kugelman is a well-respected furniture scholar, co-author of Connecticut Valley Furniture, Eliphalet Chapin and His Contemporaries, 1750-1800.
Stephen-Douglas, Rockingham, Vt., had an important watercolor portrait attributed to an artist known as Mr Wilson. Only a handful of portraits are recorded by this artist, whose work was discussed in-depth in an article titled “Mr Wilson of New Hampshire” by Deborah Childs, which appeared in a recent edition of Antiques and Fine Arts. The artist was active from about the 1810s to the 1830s. The portrait had been part of the Tananbaum collection, sold at Northeast Auctions this past summer, and when sold, needed some conservation work, which has been done.
Paul DeCoste, West Newbury, Mass., had a watercolor and calligraphy memorial for Captain Isaac Harding, Hamilton, Mass., dated 1801. DeCoste said that he had not been able to learn anything about Harding. The memorial was inscribed and signed by William Saville, Gloucester, Mass. He was a teacher and one-time town treasurer in Rockport, Mass. The memorial was priced at $4,500 and its provenance included having been in the collection of Phillip Isaacson, author of The American Eagle, one of the basic references for information on folk art eagles.
At least two booths had a selection of Inuit carvings. Cottage + Camp Antiques, North Egremont, Mass., had an exceptional large whalebone carving of an Inuit man or woman. It was about 18 inches tall and was priced at $895. Believed to have been made at Cape Dorset in the 1960s or 1970s, it would probably have been a centerpiece of a collection. Ian McKelvey, South Windsor, Conn., had a selection of about a dozen soapstone and bone Inuit carvings, reasonably priced between $40 and $250.
Selections of woodenware were available in the booths of John Rogers, New London, N.H.; Sue Wirth, Union, Conn.; Stephen-Douglas, Derik Polito, Kensington, Conn.; Gurley Antiques and others. Toys and cloth dolls were offered by Pat Hatch and Kyle Hendrick, Harvard, Mass.; Tommy Thompson, Pembroke, N.H.; the Nathan Hale Antiques Center, Hampton, Conn., and others.
After the show, Rachel and Josh Gurley both said that they were pleased with the results. Rachel went as far as calling it “a smashing success.” She elaborated, “We had a lot of new faces come through the door and many were the younger crowd we all want to see. We’re doing more with Facebook and I’m sure that helped. We had a good line waiting for the show to open and the crowd was steady all day.”
Josh attributed the success to extensive local advertising. Both believed that the location was good – close to high-income communities and with few shows in the immediate area. Rachel and several dealers commented on the dealer-to-dealer business, always a good indication of the state of mind of the exhibitors. Josh said he was aware of some good sales – namely, an early Pennsylvania fireback and Colonial era tri-corner hat.
For additional information, www.gurleyantiqueshows.com, 207-396-4255 or 207-229-0403.
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