Published: August 26, 2015
Review by W.A. Demers; Photos Courtesy Debi Turi
SHEFFIELD, MASS. — For the 67th year, the “Old Parish” First Congregational Church sponsored the Sheffield Antiques Show, but this year the show sported a new look. Roseland, N.J.,. dealer Debi Turi was brought on board by the church group to rebrand and rejuvenate the event. On August 7–9, Mount Everett Regional High School hosted about 25 exhibitors of early American antiques, Persian rugs, jewelry, silver and china and scads of other collecting categories. A snaking exhibition laid out among two large rooms and connecting hallways — with a summertime plus of air-conditioning — the show accomplished what it has aimed to do for all of its nearly seven decades — offer a variety of antiques.
Sheffield, located in the southern Berkshires, is the home to one of the oldest continuously running antiques show in the state. According to the church’s website, the event began in 1948 with a handful of dealers in the church’s social rooms. When space proved to be tight, a few years later the show was moved to the town hall just behind the church. It was in the 1990s that organizers picked it up and moved it to the Mount Everett Regional School.
The show’s organizers and Turi were betting that the summer allure of the Berkshires in August would help bring out collectors of country, federal and Victorian furniture, decorative accessories, estate jewelry, sterling silver, Oriental rugs, paintings and prints, porcelains, china and glass. And so it did. Turi said she overheard many complimentary comments on the floor, such as, “There are actually antiques here,” “Best it’s looked in years,” “Nice looking show, I’m glad we came.”
Freshening up the show’s marketing was a new “Rooster” logo, supplied by Turi, but taken further by the organizers to include signage, an actual rooster mascot greeting attendees as they entered the school and even “chicken tracks” to lead them to the proper entrance. “We were very pleased with the show,” said Becky Schopp, who with fellow church members Maggie Brigham and Jim Kelley, formed the event’s management triumvirate. “There was a renewed energy this year and a real positive reaction from those who came.” Schopp added that while it was not possible to quantify, she believed the show was successful in increasing the gate over the previous year.
Sue and Bear van Asch van Wyck, Washington Depot, Conn., are dealers with interests that range from antique Dutch ornamental tiles to period furniture and decorative arts. Sue is also an artist and Bear is known for his bespoke furniture and accessories that incorporate decoupage of antique documents. “This was the second year of our doing the show, and we did better business this year than last,” said Sue afterward. “We sold a Seventeenth Century Anglo American chest of drawers and a wonderful Nineteenth Century American ship model. We had interest in quite a few other things and are hoping to hear from those who had this interest.” She noted that there were good crowds on all three days. “It was a pleasant show do, and the support staff did a great job,” she said.
It was the first time for Dark Flowers Antiques. Co-owners David Weibner and Jared Cilley of Haverhill, Mass., staged a very attractive display that showcased the Arts and Crafts porcelain pottery in which they specialize. “We really enjoy these,” said Weibner, who explained that most of the blanks were of European origin, decorated by artists in the United States during a flowering of the movement between the 1890s and 1930s, especially in places like upstate New York, Chicago and St Louis. Many of the patterns were taken from magazine illustrations and given a personalized twist by the artist, and those bearing the date and artist’s signature are the most interesting.
“Setup for the show was great,” said Weibner, “and the people who helped put it on were outstanding. It was well edited in terms of the dealers, and I believe the people who came were pleasantly surprised by the quality of merchandise. Of our booth, someone commented that they could tell we really cared about our material.”
“It was a nice little show with a hardworking group of people,” said Francis Nestor of Cottage + Camp, Philadelphia. “Attendance was fairly strong, but all our sales were on Friday morning.” Among their sales were a Nineteenth Century hand drawn alphabet and a Nineteenth Century album of pressed flowers. Showcased among the items they brought was a 1970s studio furniture coffee table and a colorful mounted ravel knit rug.
Every show needs vintage jewelry and this collecting niche was ably filled by Jamie’s Antiques, Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y. Owner Jamie Shenkman on her Ruby Lane website said she was bitten by the vintage jewelry bug on a trip to England years ago where she purchased several Edwardian necklaces and received compliments from friends and family whenever she wore them. “So I went back and purchased more, signed up for a booth at an antiques show, and before I knew it, I was operating a burgeoning business! Several years later, I left my job in public relations to devote myself full time to the antiques business,” she recalled.
Contacted after the Sheffield weekend — in fact, she was in place for the Madison-Bouckville Antiques Show — Shenkman said that for her Sheffield was “a good show,” not as good as the previous year, but still worthwhile. “There was good quality, and the dealers are a fun group,” she said. “It’s a beautiful setting in an area known for its antiques shops.”
Other categories represented at the show included the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century American and European art, as well as Nineteenth Century ceramics, including Chinese Export porcelain, presented by Wawarsing, N.Y., dealers Jaffe & Thurston, as well as furniture and smalls by Trumbull. Conn.’s Chester Cwilichoski and the quirky vintage furnishings of Cottage + Camp, Philadelphia, among others.
Schopp said that while a date has not yet been set for next year’s show, the early August weekend has been a traditional time to host it.
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