Published: March 8, 2016
Review And Photos By Rick Russack
HOLLISTON, MASS. — Steve Allman has been running the 125-dealer Holliston show for 38 years in the affluent Boston-West suburbs and consistently draws knowledgeable buyers.
It’s worth noting that most of the exhibitors return year after year. Allman runs shows in New York State and Florida, and some exhibitors from those shows participate in the Holliston show. Attendance was up over last year. The show had something for almost everyone: furniture ready to go in a home, toys, jewelry, fine paintings, country Americana, art pottery, clocks, art glass, watches, silver and more.
Elmira, N.Y., vintage toy dealer Randy Fry and his son had a triple booth with 16 8-foot tables filled with hundreds of vintage and collectible toys. They offered mechanical tin toys, character toys, automotive and space toys, Disney toys, games and puzzles. Fry has been exhibiting at major antique toy shows for more than 30 years and travels to Miami, Chicago, Pennsylvania or wherever collectors are. Prices range from a few dollars to several hundred dollars for vintage mechanical tin toys in original boxes. There were toys in other booths, as well.
Pantry Box Antiques, Stafford Springs, Conn., brought a collection of vintage stuffed rabbits and teddy bears. The bears were priced between $300 and $350 and the stuffed rabbits were less.
Furniture ready to go in the house was available from several dealers. Beyeler’s Antiques, Ashland, Mass., had nice, clean, refinished oak furniture, including a bookcase with a glass door, $895, a two door cabinet, $595, and racks for pool cue-sticks, with sticks, priced at $375. He also had stackable glass-fronted book ases: one with three sections was $595 and one with five sections was $995. David Rose, Upton, Mass., had several pieces of refinished pine and maple furniture.
One of the more unusual pieces of furniture in the show was a late Nineteenth Century restored drafting table made by the Keuffel and Esser Co of New York, and the company was noted for being the first to specialize in drafting supplies. This table had a cast iron base with gears for adjusting the height and angle of the work surface, and it had adjustable cast iron shelves for supplies. It belonged to Mike Pheiffer, Two Sides of A River Antiques, New London, N.H., and he was asking $1,495 for it. He said that he had refinished it himself and that all the mechanisms for adjusting the table were now working fine.
White Orchid Antiques, Bordentown, N.J., filled its booth with fine Twentieth Century furniture and accessories. A very comfortable pair of Italian leather armchairs was priced at $1,200, and a pair of chrome statues of Christ on the Cross, believed to have been made in Spain, was priced at $3,500. The dealers also had framed botanical prints and several lamps.
Jim Johnston, Franklin, Mass., had a nice tapered-leg drop leaf table priced at $325, and early Windsor chairs priced between $125 and $145. Johnston said it was only his second show in 26 years. Also new was Liz Ditomassi, a jewelry dealer from Boston, with fine estate pieces who said this was her first show. Judging by the crowd around her booth shortly after opening, she was off to a good start.
John Prunier, Warren, Mass., had a good selection of American art pottery. A pair of Scheier plates was listed at a reasonable $475 and an unusual Van Briggle vase, signed and dated 1918, was $1,350. Abby Harvey, Thoreauly Antiques, Concord, Mass., had a booth full of white ironstone kitchenware, and she had several Prattware pot lids.
Several types of Victorian art glass were offered by C&J Antiques, Norfolk, Mass., including Amberina, satin glass, vaseline and cranberry. And if you like Hummels, you would certainly have enjoyed browsing the booth of Marmost Antiques. They had well over 100 examples. Matt King, Marshfield, Mass., had an outstanding polychromed Mexican redware “Tree of Life,” circa 1920. These were given as wedding gifts, and this one may have been made by Aurellio Flores, known for pieces of this type. The asking price was $600.
Chelsea Hill Antiques, Hampton, Conn., had a large booth set up in the show lobby. Owner Tom Nagy said that he has been doing the Holliston show for 27 years and his booth had some of the higher priced items in the show. A large European oil painting of a winter scene with a team of oxen pulling a cart loaded with logs, with a castle in the background, was priced at $3,000. He was asking $1,400 for an Eighteenth Century walnut corner cupboard. Nagy also had a circa 1810 cherry tall case clock from Pennsylvania, unmarked but all original, on offer for $2,200. After the show Steve Allman noted that Nagy had had a very good show.
Speaking of clocks, Hills Antique Clock Shop of Holliston had a large booth full of wall clocks and mantel piece clocks. All were in running condition and signage in the booth indicated that repair services were offered.
Tom Degnan, Ashford, Conn., brought original pen and ink political cartoons drawn by Charles Lewis Bartholomew (1869–1949). Bartholomew signed his work “Bart” and was known by that name. He was very prolific, producing cartoons that were published on the front page of the Minneapolis Journal for more than 20 years, and his work was well known at the time. He was one of the first “political cartoonists. These cartoons were published in the 1890s. Degnan had them priced at $175 each, which seemed reasonable given the stature of the artist.
Next year will be the 50th anniversary of the Holliston show. Allman has been running it since 1978, when he and a partner George Seigert purchased a group of shows from Jack Garfield and Les Hudson, who did business under the name of “House That Jack Built” of Bellingham, Mass. Seigert retired in 1991 and Allman has been running the shows by himself since then. He produces 11 shows a year, including the well-known and long-running Madison-Bouckville outdoor market. He also runs shows at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse.
He told Antiques and The Arts Weekly that he has become a big believer in the importance of social media in promoting shows. He uses Facebook extensively and has several thousand viewers. He posts photos of his shows to his Facebook page while the shows are open. He uses Google ad-words to attract web browsers, Twitter, and has developed an email list of several thousand names to let folks know when his shows will be running. He also advertises extensively in the trade papers as well as local newspapers wherever he has shows
In addition, his exhibitors are loyal. Kay Baker, Amherst, Mass., said, “I really love his shows. He’s very organized and cares about his dealers. He makes sure everything is perfect,” Sounds like he’s doing everything right.
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