Published: October 28, 2015
Heritage Worthy And Then Some
Story by Laura Beach
Photos by Laura Beach and R. Scudder Smith
DEERFIELD, MASS. — We know it was not intended for the crowd of collectors who gathered at the gussied-up hockey rink on the campus of Deerfield Academy on October 10, but when a campus van rolled by with the image of an Eighteenth Century door and the words “Be Worthy of Your Heritage” on its side, it did seem rather fitting. Everything about the ADA-Historic Deerfield Antiques Show is heritage-worthy: the serious collectors who visit the show annually; the top experts who stock its stands; the Historic Deerfield leadership, who enthusiastically backs the initiative; even the village itself, never lovelier than on a beautiful weekend in October. Fairs being the ephemeral creatures that they are, we should pause to acknowledge how lucky we are to have the ADA-Historic Deerfield Antiques Show. It’s magic.
Karen and Ralph DiSaia manage the Columbus Day weekend event, this year October 10–11, on behalf of the Antiques Dealers Association of America, whose members are integral to the production, from decorating the floor (Hilary Nolan’s seasonal arrangements are unsurpassed) to vetting the caterer (try the stuffed popovers and grilled cheese on Texas toast.)
“We saw an enormous number of serious collectors come through. They stayed for the day or for the weekend and bought,” Karen DiSaia told Antiques and The Arts Weekly. Noting an increase in attendance of 15 percent over a year ago, she added, “We were happy to see some new, younger collectors, as well.”
The ADA-Historic Deerfield Antiques Show is a prime source for early New England furniture and folk art. It was heartening to see furniture selling. Early in the show, South Salem, N.Y., dealer John Keith Russell wrote up a circa 1840 Shaker tailoring counter from New Lebanon, N.Y. Peter Eaton parted with a circa 1770–85 Connecticut River Valley cherry secretary desk with a scrolled bonnet, pilasters, and a shaped skirt. Portsmouth, N.H., dealer Hollis Brodrick sold a tap table and a group of caned back chairs. Lewis Scranton, David Good, Jeff and Holly Noordsy, Jewett-Berdan and Don Olson were also pleased.
The fair welcomed a handful of new exhibitors, among them Bernard & S. Dean Levy, Earle D. Vandekar of Knightsbridge and Jordan Antiques & Antiquarian Books. Offsetting the show’s primitive flavor, Frank Levy featured a labeled Elisha Tucker of Boston mahogany, bird’s-eye maple, birch and rosewood tambour desk of circa 1810 and a circa 1800 Federal cherry New York or Connecticut sideboard with unusual inlays.
Similarly formal, longtime exhibitor Jeffrey Tillou recommended two Connecticut pieces: a Chippendale cherry secretary, possibly from Colchester, and a cherry lowboy, possibly from Stratford. Clock specialist Kirtland Crump fascinated visitors with the giant, wooden works of a tower clock by Joel Curtis, Cairo, N.Y.
At Nathan Liverant and Son, an enchanting pastel on paper portrait of a Massachusetts girl, Rachel Fox Read (circa 1790–1856) by Boston artist William M.S. Doyle hung over an appealing bandy-foot chest of drawers on which sat a large Liverpool jug imprinted with the image of a War of 1812 skirmish, the Battle of Stonington. A pair of silhouettes of Hannah and Martin Kellogg accompanied a cherry highboy from central Connecticut that was Liverant’s piece de resistance.
Earlier in the week, Brooklyn, N.Y., dealer Steve Powers fired off an e-blast alerting customers that he was bringing an outstanding collection of New England wall boxes. Most were in old red stain. Some had sunflower, wave or lollipop crests. A large, trapezoidal hanging corner cupboard in his booth dated to the Eighteenth Century and had once belonged to Lillian Cogan, followed by Audrey and Tom Monahan, whose collection Northeast auctioned in 2001.
Folk painting, much of it portraiture on panel, was abundant. An anonymous portrait on panel of a child in a white dress, possibly western Massachusetts or Hudson Valley, featured at Joan Brownstein, Newbury, Mass. At Elliott and Grace Snyder, the Danielson Family fireboard attributed to Winthrop Chandler, circa 1788-89, joined a painting on panel of a young man by Asahel Lynde Powers (1813–1843).
From the Finger Lakes region of New York, the primitive portraits of a man and wife by Ralph Curtis (1808–1885) dominated Stephen-Douglas’s display. Outstanding in Don Olson’s presentation were two Nineteenth Century portraits, one of a drummer boy and another of Daniel Yanior, a member of the Philadelphia Butchers’ Guild, by James Herring, Pennsylvania, circa 1824.
“It’s on one of the largest poplar panels I’ve ever seen,” Maine dealer Butch Berdan said of his full-length portrait of Emma Field of Easton, Penn. The circa 1840 likeness joined Joseph Goodhue Chandler’s full-length portrait of boy with a bow and arrow at Jewett-Berdan.
“It hung on my parents’ wall for many years. My mother filled it with velvet fruit,” Martha Boynton said of the woven splint basket that hung near a teal-green jelly cupboard and a large, framed wool-work picture from Maine.
At Axtell Antiques, a paint decorated miniature Schoharie, N.Y., blanket chest joined a collection of punched-tin lanterns.
Ceramics were another robust category, well-represented by Ohio dealer David Good, Steve and Lorraine German of Mad River Antiques, Greg K. Kramer of Pennsylvania, and others. Historic Deerfield trustee and avid collector Joe Gromacki pored over the delectable selection of New England and European pottery at Samuel Herrup Antiques, where a Bristol County, R.I., jar in luscious green glaze and a Cheesequake, N.J., cobalt decorated stoneware jar were highlights. New York dealer Paul Vandekar put his best foot forward with a diminutive, five-piece Dutch delft mantel garniture with polychrome decoration.
Textiles resonated at Colette Donovan, who offered early homespun, quilts and hooked rugs; at Karen and Ralph DiSaia’s Oriental Rugs Ltd, where Kurdish, Caucasian, Chinese and Tibetan rugs mingled; and at Stephen and Carol Huber, where samplers from Dunstable and Salem, Mass., were showstoppers. The Hubers got off to a quick start, selling the 1828 sampler of a 9-year-old Vermont girl, Sarah Ann Buel, who proudly noted the number of letters she stitched: 317.
We are told that Deerfield Academy intends to demolish and replace the hockey rink with a more advanced sports facility. Plans for next year are secure, however. That noted, it makes sense to book now for the 2016 ADA-Historic Deerfield Antiques Show. In auction-house parlance, it is rare and important, worthy of its heritage.
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