Published: June 19, 2007
Bruce Garrett, the third promoter in 31 years to captain the Rhinebeck Antiques Fair, knows a good thing when he sees it. Some other shows may have dipped lately, but this reliable Hudson River classic keeps on rolling, thanks to the steady habits of shoppers and Garrett’s insistence that Rhinebeck stay fun, diverse and affordable.
In its most recent incarnation, the May 26′7 Rhinebeck Antiques Fair enjoyed healthy attendance and, for many of the show’s 200 exhibitors, noteworthy sales in a host of categories, from folk art to jewelry.
A blast of sultry summer weather got this holiday weekend favorite off to a good start, as New Yorkers headed upstate with thoughts of feathering their Dutchess County nests. As the mercury hit 90 degrees, Esther Gilbert Antiques of Southampton, Mass., attached a red sold ticket to a pair of snow shoes. That is what you call nostalgia.
“Attendance was good and dealers were pleased,” Garrett said afterward. “One way we measure sales is by how much goes through our porter system. Last year’s spring Rhinebeck show was off the charts. This was our second best spring. Sixty-seven percent of exhibitors who responded to our survey said that they had good to excellent shows.”
“For us, knock on wood, this is always a really good show. We are constantly trying to find new markets and trends. I can’t get smart enough fast enough,” confessed Bruce Emond of Village Braider Antiques. The Plymouth, Mass., dealer’s light-drenched booth playfully combined garden furniture and accessories, shown against a backdrop of peacock blue.
Not surprisingly, garden antiques are a hot category at Rhinebeck’s spring edition. New Hampshire dealers Jef and Terri Steingrebe planted four steel spring chairs around a fold-up pavilion, probably a carnival hut, with a painted canvas top.
A 1950s pool umbrella mushroomed against David Drummond’s back wall.
And vintage beach chairs in red and white striped canvas took the load off at Katona & Lutz, Greenwich, N.J.
“I sold quite a bit of garden furniture, so I was pleased,” said Connecticut dealer Karen Wendhiser, employing color to advantage in her light, bright booth.
From garden antiques it was a hop to rustic furniture and accessories. Alden Valley Antiques, Hebron, Ill., showed off four chairs by Indiana Willow Products, a competitor of Old Hickory Furniture Company, both of Martinsville, Ind. The set was $750.
A Black Forest hall tree was $2,900 at Mason Antiques, West Cornwall, Conn.
A signed Fiske fountain vied for attention with a circa 1800 architectural corner cupboard, $12,900, at Dave and Bonnie Ferriss, Lake Luzerne, N.Y.
Other architectural offerings included a pair of Art Deco gates, $1,800 at Cottages and Camps; three carved mantels and a built-in corner cupboard in old paint at William E. Lohrman; and an eagle and shield finial for a wood stove at Mad River Antiques.
Loo Loo Design, architectural hardware and vintage plumbing specialists from Portsmouth, R.I., had impromptu customers for a 13-foot wood and copper three-bay commercial sink and bathroom accessories, including an expensive triple towel bar.
“One customer gave me a list of fittings she wants,” said Loo Loo partner Jill Wilson.
Dordick & Husted had a call from the Carolinas on the miniature house, windmill and picket fence that it advertised in Antiques and The Arts Weekly’s special show section. “The gentleman is writing a book on these little structures and knows quite a bit about the subject,” said Richard Husted. The Woodstock, N.Y., dealers sold “across the board †furniture, art, jewelry, glass, china and smalls.”
“Garrett runs this show beautifully,” said Husted, whose mother-in-law, Katherine Dordick, was a Rhinebeck founder.
The Rhinebeck Antiques Fair sets up in four adjacent buildings at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds. The indoor setting minimizes the vagaries of weather and allows exhibitors to erect polished displays.
Jenkinstown Antiques, Rhinebeck mainstays from New Paltz, N.Y., mix formal and country furniture and Hudson Valley art and design in their room-setting booths. Highlights included Taconic baskets, which the old-time Hudson Valley dealer Nellie Ptaszek did so much to popularize, and Hudson River School views by Bayard Tyler (1853‱931), a Yonkers, N.Y., painter whose work dealer Sanford Levy much admires. Jenkinstown Antiques sold two Tyler paintings and Taconic baskets, along with a small English sideboard, a Queen Anne chair and a tea table.
Formal furniture is scarce at Rhinebeck, but Stephen M. Gero and Daniel Hackbarth of Old Village Antiques in Avon, Conn., use their difference to advantage. “We had a fabulous show,” said Gero, who left Balcony Antiques, a group shop he founded, a year ago. “Young people are not investing in good furniture the way they used to and we do not see as many New York decorators coming through, but Rhinebeck got a ton of people on Sunday.”
Several exhibitors balance folk and formal. New Hampshire dealers Cheryl and Paul Scott juxtaposed a Massachusetts bow front chest and a banner weathervane. Mario Pollo of Bearsville, N.Y., displayed a tiger maple and mahogany Sheraton sideboard, Windsor chairs, a harvest table and running horse weathervane. Shawnee-on-Delaware, Penn., dealers John and Robin Sittig encapsulate timeless style, traditional but informal. Their offerings included a tiger maple plantation desk, $2,800, and an early New York State thumb latch, $350.
“Someone recently told me, ‘Antiques that do not get old are what is selling.’ When I thought about it, I realized she was right,” said Tim Chambers of Missouri Plain Folk. To great success, the Sikeston, Mo., dealers emphasized strikingly sculptural objects.
“We had a record show. We sold furniture and folk art. It was all about surface and aesthetics. We advertised a circa 1900 Nebraska bolt cabinet. It sold right away, then sold again,” said Chambers. “I had to scurry back home to find merchandise for the Heartland show in Indiana. Now I’m scrambling for New Hampshire.”
Folk and funk, the latter supplied by Seaver & McClellan in the form of 50 pairs of bowling shoes, are Rhinebeck traditions.
Odd Fellows Antiques of Mount Vernon, Maine, displayed an African American quilt from western Tennessee, circa 1930, $2,200, with vintage snapshots and a huge photographer’s cut-out backdrop, $850.
Mary Webb of Pittsford, N.Y., featured framed wedding photos dating from the late Nineteenth Century.
Bob and Ellie Vermillion of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., hung a folky coverlet, $350, probably made for a teacher at the Findlay School. Each embroidered block appeared to have been based on a child’s drawing. A calligraphic drawing of a stag was $1,200.
“We know exactly how tall it is †12 feet †because it just barely fit in our truck. It has a wing span of six feet,” Sharon Pittinger of Dark Moon Antiques said of her Wayne County, Penn., carved and painted totem pole. “It stood outside a cabin. We got it when the people sold the place.”
A carved and gilded eagle with a 23-inch wingspan by Artistic Carving Company of Boston was $2,400 at Dennis Raleigh, Wiscasset, Maine.
New Hampshire dealer Jane Workman offered a pair of primitive portraits †a man with a book and a woman with a child †in simple frames.
“We like Rhinebeck. It is very eclectic and you see dealers that you do not see other places,” said Massachusetts dealer Tom Longacre, who sold more than 20 pieces of furniture and folk art.
Emphasizing bold design, Neil and Mary Carden Quinn’s impeccable stand featured a circa 1870 Philadelphia fire mark and a colorful 1849 house sampler by Susannah Northrup Cullingworth that the Quinns purchased more than 50 years ago at the Weston Antiques Show.
Pennsylvania dealer Jim Hirsheimer took wing with a pair of painted sheet metal swans †the ends to a tunnel-of-love seat †and three French and one Canadian zinc roosters.
“Rhinebeck was a really strong show for us,” said marine arts specialist Lou Dianni. The Fishkill, N.Y., dealer sold four paintings, including an Antonio Jacobsen, a ship model and a sailor’s valentine.
Add to the mix a little European (think William and Mary-style bench, $1,850, and Regency-style iron bed, $2,800, at Bob Withington), Modern (Italian coffee table, $1,200, at Bridges Over Time), and exotic (the base of a Siamese sugar cane crushing device, mounted on a custom base, $13,200 at Chinalai Tribal Antiques), and you have Rhinebeck.
“Pleasing the dealers is what we are all about,” said Garrett, whose next outing is the one-day Summer Magic antiques fair in Rhinebeck on July 28. The Fall Rhinebeck Antiques Fair is slated for October 13‱4.
For information, 845-876-1989 or www.rhinebeckantiquesfair.com .
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