Published: December 30, 2003
What a difference a year and day make.
Last year, the Antiquarius Antiques Show’s gala preview party was accompanied by the season’s first major snowstorm, which dumped nearly a foot of snow and dampened the numbers if not the enthusiasm of those willing and able to spend amply for an evening of nibbling, noshing and negotiating inside the Greenwich Civic Center.
This year’s storm arrived a day later, on the show’s opening day, December 5, and it was a bona fide nor’easter, bringing as much as 18 inches of snow to Fairfield County. The wind-driven white stuff canceled Marilyn Gould’s Wilton Holiday Antiques Show, but not Antiquarius.
That is not to say the storm had no effect. Antiquarius closed one and a half hours early on Friday, and on Saturday it was shuttered at 1:30 pm by order of the Greenwich town police, according to show manager Susie McMillan. “We were told by the police department to close the show. It was a safety issue,” said McMillan, who has managed the show for three years. Town plows were needed on the local roads, she explained, and diverting them in order to keep the civic center clear of snow for intrepid antiques buyers was not in the cards.
On Sunday morning, folks woke up to a glittering late autumn wonderland of snow-blanketed landscape. McMillan extended Sunday hours until 6 pm, but by most accounts crowds stayed away on that day also.
Now in its 46th year, the Antiquarius Antiques Show presented art, jewelry, large and small furnishings and accessories spanning three centuries, with 45 dealers displaying their antiques in room-sized settings in three areas within the center. Dwarfing the dealer numbers every year are the armies of committee people and hostesses, a main reason why Antiquarius is able to sparkle year after year while a number of other benefit shows seem to lose their luster. More than an antiques show, Antiquarius is a weeklong event that in addition to the gala preview and antiques show presents lectures, house tours, a holiday gift boutique and other activities geared to raising funds to benefit Greenwich’s historical society. And it takes an army of committee people and supporters to accomplish the mission.
Honorary chair Claire Vanderbilt was front and center at the show’s entrance during the gala preview party, greeting and chatting with guests as they arrived. “It’s a beautiful show,” she remarked over the strains of holiday music. “The workers always come through, and the music puts people in the spirit.”
So in 2003, the time for the dealers to make hay apparently was during Thursday’s spirited gala preview, which unlike 2002’s event was very well attended. “We had the best numbers yet of the galas we’ve conducted,” said McMillan.
Indeed, it was sometimes difficult to navigate through the proffered platters of tasty tidbits and good cheer being circulating among the preview party crowd, but here is a sampling of what was on the floor.
Fine art was the talisman keeping Cold Man Winter at bay in the booth of Jeffrey Cooley of Old Lyme, Conn., which had a decidedly summerlike feel. Lofty clouds were abundant in an oil on canvas titled “Summer Clouds” by Boston landscape artist William Jurian Kaula (1871-1953), which was signed lower right and measured 461/2 by 351/2 inches. Nearby, an oil on board by Guy Wiggins (1883-1962) titled “Afternoon, Noank” and measuring 12 by 16 inches echoed the theme. An oil on board by Joseph Eliot Enneking (1881-1942) measuring 14 by 12 inches presented the viewer with a shade-dappled apple orchard, and William Trost Richards’ (1833-1905) “Idyllic Landscape,” signed and dated 1874, warmed the space. One of the few works displayed that captured the bleakness of winter still embraced the notion of hope in its title – “Thaw, South Kent, Conn.,” an oil on Masonite by Robert Hogg Nisbet (1879-1961), which measured 16 by 20 inches. Ghostly skyscrapers loomed in Leon Dabo’s (1868-1960) “Evening, New York,” an oil on canvas measuring 30 by 24 inches.
New to the show last year and returning in 2003 was Iona Antiques, specialists in Nineteenth Century English animal paintings from London, England. Iona and Stephen Joseph said that while last year’s introduction did not produce any sales, they were willing to give it another try. “Two Leicester Rams in a Landscape,” signed “Thomas Weaver, Shrewsbury, 1825,” portrayed the musculature of the sheep in an oil on canvas measuring 22 by 30 inches. Joseph explained that English farm animal portraits of this period were meant to impress the viewer with the animals’ strength, girth and prowess. Also displayed was “Short-horned Heifer and a Springer Spaniel,” signed “J. Hobart, Pinx., Ipswich” and inscribed “Graz’d for X-mas 1863 by Mr R. Payne, Chelmondiston.” The oil on canvas measured 121/2 by 17 inches. Cuter perhaps by American standards, a King Charles spaniel with her two puppies as rendered by an unknown English artist, circa 1860, gaze out soulfully from an oil on canvas measuring 15 by 20 inches.
Drawing a considerable amount of interest in the booth was a naive study of a young boy by an unknown English artist, circa 1850. The oil on canvas, measuring 24 by 20 inches, depicts a typical infant wearing an untypical adult expression and lacy dress and holding a rattle.
Also back this year for a second time was Rick Scott of San Francisco, who focuses on antique boxes and unusual accessories. Scott said, “We did very well overall,” despite Saturday’s early closing. “We sell nothing but smalls and our business was excellent,” he said.
Among the treasures in Scott’s booth was a large beautifully executed English amboyna wood snuff box lined in tortoiseshell, circa 1860, an early Nineteenth Century English figural snuff box as a recumbent lion carved from Karelian birch, and many examples of European snuff shoes. Tea caddies, clocks and a unique set of six silver and ivory candlesticks from the 1930s that were in the shape of street lamps were also on display, along with inkwells, Chinese export lacquer, humidors and locking decanters.
Specializing in American neoclassical furniture from 1800 to 1850 and garden antiques, Aileen Minor of Centreville, Md., was highlighting a New York pier table, circa 1825, with original marble top, columns and pilasters. Measuring 381/2 inches high by 421/2 inches wide by 181/2 inches deep, the piece featured original classical gilt decoration of cornucopias, lyres and medallions. Minor also showcased a couple of Nineteenth Century convex mirrors, one a large American giltwood mirror with a carved eagle flanked by sprays of oak and laurel (representative of strength and knowledge). Measuring 52 by 34 inches, the mirror was made by Thurber & Co., Providence, R.I., in about 1810. A smaller giltwood mirror, circa 1800-1810, made in America or England was surmounted by an eagle and flanked by sprays of leafage and acorns.
Minor, who pointed out that dedicated buyers came to the show and bought on Sunday, said, “I was lucky and had some nice sales.” Those included a large early old Sheffield plated silver tea urn, circa 1785, and a beautiful large American patinated brass and engraved glass hall lantern, a pair of painted and gilt decorated “fancy chairs” and several pieces of silvered or “mercury” glass. “This show is always a wonderful show, has a fabulous committee and is always exciting to do because of the beautiful holiday decorations completely transforming the building into a special holiday setting,” said Minor. She arrived safely back in Maryland and said she is looking forward to next year’s show.
Joel Fletcher of Fletcher/Copenhaver Fine Art, Fredericksburg, Va., gave a spirited thumbs-up at the close of Thursday night’s gala preview. The firm, which specializes in Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century American and European art, was showing, among a wide range of works, antique painted saws of Jacob Kass (1910-2000), who during his life produced nearly 300 folk art land- and townscapes on the old serrated tools that he and his wife Juliette often acquired at country auctions in Vermont. Fletcher and partner John Copenhaver also highlighted the work of Hermann-Paul (1864-1940), a French artist who made a name for himself as a painter of genre scenes, a printmaker, illustrator and draftsman.
One again commanding the civic center’s stage, Enrique Goytizolo of Georgian Manor Antiques, Fairhaven, Mass., was very busy placing sold stickers on rdf_Descriptions during the Thursday preview. Among his range of English furniture, paintings, porcelain and glass, he had early in the evening already made eight or nine sales, including a Peruvian Nineteenth Century carved and gilded oval mirror, circa 1890, a bamboo plant stand, candlesticks and a hat rack. Goytizolo was also offering a China Trade trunk of camphor wood lined with leather, trimmed with brass and hand painted made between 1820 and 1830.
Arthur Liverant of Nathan Liverant and Son Antiques, Colchester, Conn., related an interesting tale concerning a dower chest that was displayed in his booth. The chest, of Pennsylvania origin, circa 1805, with sgraffito and paint decoration and original bail brass hardware, had been exhibited in the Smithsonian Museum in 1947 and illustrated in the Magazine Antiques in the 1950s. It had belonged to Edna Greenwood, the renowned pioneer of the antiquarian movement of the second half of the Nineteenth Century, and can clearly be seen in a photograph documenting the interior of Greenwood’s Time Stone Farm. Measuring 293/4 inches high by 48 inches wide by 22 inches deep, the chest was in excellent condition and priced at $65,000. Liverant was also showing a Queen Anne cherry flat-top high boy with matching carved shells and stylized stocking feet from the Housatonic Valley in Connecticut, circa 1750-1780.
Connoisseurs of fine silver could discover much to appreciate at Spencer Marks, East Walpole, Mass. Spencer Gordon and Mark McHugh set up a booth that gleamed with extraordinary rdf_Descriptions, such as a partial set (six pieces) of hollowware made by Bailey & Co. of Philadelphia, circa 1865. The stunning pieces of Nineteenth Century American silver, included an important entree server featuring decoration of ten neoclassical medallions and elaborate casting and hand chasing. But what made the piece even more compelling, according to Marks, was its provenance through descent in the family of Samuel M. Felton, a national hero who thwarted a possible assassination attempt on Abraham Lincoln in 1861. The lid of the server is inscribed “Presented to Samuel M. Felton by his friends of the city of Philadelphia and its vicinity 1865.”
“Our show was good, particularly in light of the weather,” said Marks. “Mainly, we sold our silver to collectors who we have known for a while. The preview seemed better attended and more upbeat than in three or four years, so it would have been nice not to have two days wiped out by the weather. Both the committee and show manager, Susie McMillan, go all out to make the show a success. It has a long tradition of being the best show in the area and both work very hard to make the dealers comfortable and get the buyers there.”
Winsor Antiques, Woodbury, Conn., brought a late Georgian oak and mahogany pot-boarded dresser base featuring two deep drawers flanking a central arched section supported by ring turned columns. The piece’s style and use of mahogany veneer indicated that it came from the Aberystwyth area of West Wales, circa 1820. A Seventeenth Century Antwerp red tortoiseshell and ebony casket with a domed top, circa 1670, opened to reveal the original quilted blue silk interior. Artwork included an oil on panel painting by Victor Emile Janssons (Belgian, 1807-?) of “Two Women in a Kitchen Interior,” signed and dated lower left and measuring 241/2 by 191/2 inches. Two other paintings, “Boys Skating,” a signed oil on canvas attributed to George Morland and measuring 36 by 43 inches, and a portrait of a horse by Hayter Kinch, measuring 261/2 by 35 inches, were being offered.
Everyone knows that rose blossoms are delicate. But a visitor to Eve Stone’s booth would also learn that rose stems also need to be precisely and delicately pruned. In the Eighteenth Century that would have been accomplished with a brass and wood rose clipper. The French clipper, made in 1760-70 and featuring a fruitwood pistol grip handle and lock in the form of a parrot’s beak, was 101/2 inches long. Woodbridge, Conn.-based dealer Stone is known for her copper and brassware and has been doing the Greenwich show for about 18 years. “The economy is in such a state, and antiques are the last rdf_Description on the list,” said Stone, who added that specializing in what one sells remains the best way to weather the lull.
“It has everything going for it,” exclaimed Sally Kaltman, owner of Sallea Antiques, New Canaan, Conn. She was referring to a games compendium made in 1860 by the Royal Games Co. Featuring burled walnut with ivory chess and checkers pieces, it offered backgammon, dominoes, cribbage – plus all of its original square and unglazed playing cards, which in those days carried no numbers. Also in her booth was an extremely rare apple green tortoiseshell tea caddy from England, circa 1810. Kaltman said she’s been doing Antiquarius “since it started. “It’s a good venue,” she said. “It’s a good time of year.”
For information, 203-869-6899.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm