Published: February 6, 2007
“We had our dealers’ meeting on Sunday morning. It only lasted a few minutes,” Barry D. Briskin, co-chair of The American Antiques Show (TAAS), said cheerfully after the fair’s successful close at the Metropolitan Pavilion on January 21.
TAAS’s 44 exhibitors had few complaints and much praise for the event benefiting the American Folk Art Museum. Following a lively preview party on Wednesday, January 17, attendance was up 25 percent through Friday. The gate held steady through the weekend, as did sales.
“We were very pleased,” said Briskin, crediting the flawless direction of manager Karen DiSaia and TAAS’s executive director, Caroline Kerrigan.
Good weather helped. Only an occasional snowflake darkened Manhattan’s glamorous skyline. In Texas, it was another story. An ice storm, coupled with two hairline fractures, prevented San Antonio exhibitor Jackie Radwin from making it to TAAS at all this year. Pennsylvania dealer Frank Martin, who works with Radwin, set up and operated her booth.
In its sixth year, The American Antiques Show has found its stride, offering a handsome selection of furniture, folk art, Native American art, toys, accessories and jewelry of interest to Americana Week showgoers. Painted furniture and folk art, naturally, are top draws.
Buyers no longer have trouble finding the West 18th Street venue, whose scale is ideal for a fair of this size and relative informality.
“I don’t know when I’ve ever felt so good after a show,” said DiSaia. “Everyone did business. Most exhibitors were ecstatic. They sold all weekend.”
“It knocked me out when I saw it,” Stephen Score said of the “Crazy City” cotton crazy quilt that hung on his outside wall. The Boston dealer bought the well-known and much published textile bed covering from fellow exhibitors Tom Woodard and Blanche Greenstein, who owned it for several decades before offering it at TAAS.
Score quickly resold the quilt, along with a double-sided game board that he bought on the floor from Rich and Pat Garthoeffner.
“It was a very strong show from beginning to end,” confirmed Amy Finkel, whose booth near the entrance gave her an eagle’s-eye view. The Philadelphia dealer sold her most important samplers, including a folky Burlington County, N.J., piece and an elegant New York Adam and Eve sampler on green linsey-woolsey. Finkel also sold most of her furniture.
Joined by their son, Roger, Trish and Don Herr arrayed Pennsylvania pewter, coverlets, quilts and a rare Quaker embroidered work bag of 1771 by Lydia Hooper of Chester County, Penn. Pieces from the same school are in The Metropolitan Museum of Art and on the cover of Historical Needlework of Pennsylvania by Margaret Schiffer.
Darnestown, Md., dealer Stella Rubin offered an 1848 Baltimore album quilt, $55,000, with blocks by Mary Simon.
“We just got it,” George Allen of Raccoon Creek, Oley, Penn., said admiringly of his deeply sculpted stag and cornucopia Waldoboro rug. On a linen ground, it had its long, original fringe and dated to about 1860. Raccoon Creek also offered a 17-inch wingspan Schimmel eagle, a gift of the artist to the previous owner’s parents in 1880; Hill Gallery of Michigan unveiled a 66-inch-tall show figure attributed to Charles Dodge; and Kelly Kinzle of New Oxford, Penn., offered a Demuth zinc Indian princess. Her companion, a zinc Indian prince by Fiske, sold opening night.
New to the show, Jewett-Berdan unveiled a large and charming hooked rug depicting a horse enclosed in a block border. Dating to circa 1900, it was $24,500.
“It’s a tour de force,” Elliott Snyder said of his exuberantly turned and painted yellow Pennsylvania bed, sold to collectors on opening night.
“We bring folkier things to this show,” said Grace Snyder, acknowledging this year’s success. The Massachusetts dealers sold well across the board, parting with a Schoharie blanket chest, a candlestand, hooked rugs, a theorem and candlesticks.
More outstanding pieces of painted furniture included a New York or New England recamier at Samuel Herrup Antiques; a Dunlap chest-on-chest and a tall clock attributed to Jacob Jones of Pittsfield, N.H., at John Keith Russell, South Salem, N.Y.; a vibrant Lancaster County step back cupboard with smoked and grained decoration at Greg K. Kramer & Co, Robesonia, Penn., and a Vermont shoe-foot hutch table in gray-blue paint at The Garthoeffners, Lititz, Penn.
“It’s one of the rarest things I’ve ever owned,” Newbury, Mass., dealer Peter Eaton said of his circa 1725–40 Connecticut River Valley documents box, boasting its original butterfly hinges, flattened ball feet and dry red painted surface.
Colchester, Conn., dealers Nathan Liverant & Son sold their most important object, a signed Asa Munger of Herkimer, N.Y., musical tall case clock, $225,000.
“It’s a masterpiece,” Woodbury, Conn., dealer Don Heller boasted of his circa 1775 Queen Anne high chest of drawers, probably from Glastonbury, Conn., $195,000.
Beautiful wood came in small sizes, too.
“It’s the only one of its kind I’ve ever seen,” Brooklyn, N.Y., dealer S. Scott Powers said of his catalog piece, a circa 1760–80 New England ash-burl double bowl. Still for sale was an Eastern Great Lakes effigy bowl, $95,000, of circa 1680–1720. Centuries of careful use had polished its surface silky smooth.
“We self-published the group,” explained Anna Bono, flipping through a catalog created by Trotta-Bono to document the company’s centerpiece, a collection of Eighteenth Century Omaha Tribe bowls, ladles and a trunk, $245,000.
Retailed by the Cherry Gallery, a circa 1910 Algonquin birchbark canoe, $25,000, was decorated with scenic panels depicting a reclining man reading a book, hunting game birds, a bull moose and a bear.
Marcy Burns offered a large Zia polychrome storage jar attributed to Trinidad Medina; Brant Mackley featured an important Crow shield with bear imagery, circa 1860–70; and David Cook displayed a large, colorful Navajo Germantown pictorial rug.
Phoning in after the show from Texas, where he was hunting, decoy expert Stephen O’Brien reported the sale of his star piece, a Gus Wilson preening duck, $225,000, to a New York folk art collector. The Boston dealer also sold a rig of four flying mallards, plus shorebirds. A tiny male puffin, $20,000, was by George Boyd (1873–1941) of Seabrook, N.H. Cape Cod dealers Courcier & Wilkins own its mate.
TAAS’s other leading decoy dealers, Russ and Karen Goldberger, sold birds as well as weathervanes, a set of five painted pantry boxes, barber poles, a decorated dome-top box, a salesman’s sample of a canoe, a patriotic shield and a whirligig. The New York Times published the Goldbergers’ late Nineteenth Century sea lion carousel figure, $49,000, the talk of the show.
Allan and Penny Katz of Woodbridge, Conn., were off to a brisk start, having sold their life-size cast iron “Vega-Cal” roadside advertising figure and a variety of other sculptural objects.
James and Judith Milne of New York City showed a Jewell & Co., horse and rider weathervane, $78,000, with a Nineteenth Century bonecrusher big-wheel bicycle, $5,800.
Gemini Antiques presented a Calamity mechanical bank by J&E Stevens, $42,500, in pristine condition, along with a Denzel carousel mare, $34,500, circa 1895.
“We’re the nudie booth,” joked Andrew Flamm of Odd Fellows Art & Antiques, who presented four life-sized carnival sideshow paintings, $34,000, from a series entitled “Nations in The Nude.” Oil on board, they dated to circa 1930.
“I had to scramble to get my paintings framed,” said Joan Brownstein, who sold all her advertised pieces preshow, including a Moses B. Russell portrait of a miniaturist, acquired by Yale. Against Brownstein’s wall was a trio of arrestingly primitive portraits by Upstate New York painter Henry Walton, done in a stark palette of black, white and coral.
Metals experts included Robert Lloyd, with pieces by Henricus Boelen of New York, Charles Allen of Jamaica, and John and Joel Sayre of Southampton, Long Island; Mark and Marjorie Allen of Manchester, N.H., with a selection of rare armorial-engraved brass; and pewter dealers Wayne and Phyllis Hilt, who featured two Eighteenth Century American tankards, including one by Frederick Bassett of New York City and Hartford.
Leah Gordon, who deals in Mexican modern silver, featured a unique William Spratling leather-covered carved wood table, $20,000, circa 1940–45.
Said Briskin, “The American Folk Art Museum is fully committed to the American Antiques Show. It is up and running beautifully now. A big part of the credit goes to Karen DiSaia, who is a great manager and a wonderful person, and to Caroline Kerrigan.”
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