Published: August 9, 2010
Banners strung from storefronts along the main street in this Hudson Valley tourist destination were not directing folks to the Dutchess County Fairgrounds. Rather, they enthused “Congrats Chelsea & Marc!!” in homage to the town’s adopted soon-to-be-newlyweds, former first daughter Chelsea Clinton and her fiancé Marc Mezvinsky. The wedding, estimated in media reports to cost as much as $5 million, was not to take place until the following weekend †a blessing, according to Rhinebeck Antiques Fair promoter Bruce Garrett, whose one-day summer affair exerts its own magnetic pull on out-of-towners.
Summer Magic, the pared down edition of the spring and fall Rhinebeck Antiques Fair, battled extreme heat on July 23. “The crowd was down, but the hardy shoppers were there as always and several were buying heavily,” said Garrett. “Sales were okay for some dealers, there were some large items leaving the floor and our delivery service did fairly well. There were many shopping bags seen leaving.”
Garrett assembled a total of 86 dealers participating in the show, which was marking its 12th summer. The smaller show afforded a concomitant footprint, utilizing just two of the four buildings. Summer Magic was envisioned by Garrett’s predecessor, the late Jimi Barton, as a way to complement Rhinebeck’s traditional fare of early American antiques with fun and quirky smalls and more affordable items that would appeal to summer treasure seekers.
Eclectic to its core, the show †like the elusive mushrooms that appear on the roadside and are quickly gone †presents an ephemeral showcase of textiles, Nineteenth Century American furniture and furnishings, fine art, Native American items, repurposed industrial artifacts and folk art.
Lynn and Michael Worden of Worden Select Objects, Burr Oak, Mich., may best epitomize the spirit of Summer Magic with their booth filled with objects that show the intersection of the natural world and human art and ingenuity. A collection of burl barn maker’s mallets created an interesting skyline of form and texture, a small section of a ship’s ladder became wall art and an Indiana folk sculpture shared space with an assemblage art table utilizing building corbels and industrial size springs as legs with a modern glass top. Arrayed around it was a set of 1950s chrome and blue Naugahyde chairs. Also on display were food manufacturing plant bins of zinc that might find new life in a potting shed or greenhouse, and a selection of sap buckets of various sizes and patinas.
Justin Cobb of Captain’s Quarters, Amherst, Mass., said, “I was fairly pleased. I sold three Inuit pieces, a small ship painting and some other items.” Cobb displayed a double sailor’s valentine made in Barbados, circa 1840‵0, a painting by Clement Drew (1806‱889) of a lighthouse in Plymouth, Mass.; and a pig’s leg, a miniature created on a silver leaf grown only in South Africa, which was brought to America by Joshua Slocum, who circumnavigated the world from 1895 to 1898. Colorful Northwest engravings and serigraphs added color to the dealer’s booth.
At Vintage Matters of Mount Bethel, Penn., one can find esoteric items emblazoned with logos and marketing images by their early purveyors. Dealer Al Conti explained that a fetching display of miniature hats, each perched on an equally diminutive hat box with a Stetson, Adam, Mallory or Resistol logo, were not salesman’s samples but rather gift certificates. In the 1930s and 1940, these miniatures were provided by the store to the person giving the gift; the recipient would bring in the miniature and order a full size item to his or her specifications.
Sanford Levy of Jenkinstown Antiques, New Paltz, N.Y., brought a monumental paint decorated wardrobe, circa 1825, as well as a more classical piece †a New York City mahogany cerule leg server with paw feet, 1810‱5, from the workshop of Duncan Phyfe. An oil on canvas autumn landscape by Frank Louville Bowie (1857‱936) hinted at cooler days to come, while a luminescent Hudson River view, circa 1910, further lit up the space. Levy also had a couple of attractive pieces of stoneware, a 3-gallon Ellenville, N.Y., crock by Brady & Ryan with blue perched bird decoration and jug decorated in blue script with the legend “S. Weiner, Rondout, N.Y. “Despite the heat, I had a good show,” said Levy, who sold five pieces of furniture, including the classical server.
DBR Antiques, operated by Doug Ramsay, is based in Hadley, Mass. Ramsay has been an antiques dealer since 1972, principally working as a “picker,” a wholesale source to major Americana dealers in the Northeast United States. For this show he had picked some gems, including an exuberant sheet iron horse weathervane from the Midwest, circa 1890‱920, that measured an impressive 60 inches. A gold gilt paint over copper eagle, circa 1880‹0, probably from Massachusetts, was another highlight, as was a laid plank half hull in original paint on breadboard and backboard. From coastal Massachusetts and dating to the Nineteenth Century, the half hull measured 58 inches.
Maile Allen, Colonia, N.J., offered her usual inventory of fine limited edition maps, natural history, botanical and other prints. Highlighting her collection for this show was the familiar image of General George Washington crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze, published in 1853 by Goupil & Co. Measuring 27 by 42 inches and in its original gilt frame, the engraving was a far cry from its grimy condition that greeted the dealer when she first saw it. Professional cleaning had removed staining from backing boards, and it was now in perfect condition.
Historical porcelain buffs always make their way to the booth of William R. and Teresa F. Kurau, Lampeter, Penn. They brought historical Staffordshire, Liverpool pitchers, spatterware, gaudy Dutch, as well as blue and white, red and white, brown and white and even purple and white transfer ware. A standout part of the collection on display was a set of six pearlware plates decorated with polychrome seals of the United States. The 63/8-inch plates, each showing the vagaries of hand-painted design, were so rare that dealer Bill Kurau remarked that it was the first set of six he has seen in 40 years.
Vibrant color field paintings by Cape artist Beverly Edwards from the 1970s presided over a Spanish Eighteenth Century bench with carved skirt, an industrial cart, sheet metal rocking chair and two large cast finials that may have once graced mid-Nineteenth Century gates or the top of a building were at Village Braider, Plymouth Mass. Dealer Bruce Emond also had an early pool cue cabinet with locking doors. At the booth of Joseph Collins of Middletown, Conn., there was a revolving hardware store cabinet fitted with 96 individual drawers. The piece was made of white pine and dated to the 1890s.
Nature and early US industrial age artifacts coexisted at Seaver & McLellan Antiques of Jaffrey, N.H. Along with seashells and flora, the dealer offered wooden forms for silver making that had come from the Lunt silversmiths in Greenfield, Mass., the successor firm to the A.F. Towle Company, which first established itself in Greenfield in the late 1800s.
The fall Rhinebeck Antiques Fair will be conducted on October 9 and 10. For information, www.rhinebeckantiquesfair.com or call 845-876-1989.
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