Published: April 20, 2004
The parishioners of St Matthews Church put on a good show April 2-4 with the 19th annual Bedford Spring Antiques Show, which takes place every year at the nearby private Rippowam Cisqua School. There were beautiful things to be found, including some extraordinary English case furniture, American silver, American and Continental fine art and furniture.
Some of the dealers like Clinton Howell, who sells fine furniture and decorative arts, and Howard Godel who specializes in American art from 1790 to 1940, are local residents with stores in New York City; Palmer Le Roy, who is the show’s founder, is a local private dealer; many came from nearby Connecticut and a few came from as far away as Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Ohio, Florida, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina.
Exhibitors filled two large gyms with inviting room settings, almost disguising the fact that you weren’t actually in someone’s well-appointed home. Dealers started unpacking on Thursday, but most of the set up still happened on Friday. Even though school was in session, the gyms were not being used, which is one of the advantages of having a show in a private school with a cooperative staff.
The elegant preview party on Friday night was a credit to the show’s co-chairs Siobhan Sack and Cindy Swank, as well as show manager Janet Robinson. They are all parishioners at St Matthews. The aisles were packed with parishioners and their friends. Most of the preview guests gathered in the upper room, and stayed there, missing the other half of the wonderful antiques that were being presented. As it turned out, dealers ended up doing most of their business on Sunday, to some of the very same people who came on Friday.
Charles and Jill Probst of Charles Edwin Inc of Louisa, Va., specialize in antique long-case clocks and barometers. They have been doing the show for about eight or nine years. Jill described Bedford as “a nice small friendly show.” She remarked that when they expanded the show from just the upper gym to both upper and lower gyms, that the character of the show didn’t change. They brought a magnificent Georgian japanned long-case clock that was getting lots of attention. It was made by Marmaduke Storr, London, circa 1740-45.
One of the prize barometers that they brought sold for five figures to a Greenwich resident for his home. From England, circa 1790-1800, William Harris of London made it. “It was one of the best stick barometers we have had in years,” said Jill, who noted that the finest barometers of that time were all coming from England and that Americans weren’t making barometers until much later, with a few rare exceptions. Their booth also featured a George III circa 1795 long-case clock by John Sharpe, London Bridge that had stunning wood grain on its front panel.
Spencer Gordon of Spencer Marks, East Walpole, Mass., brought a 350-troy ounce set of hand-chased American silver made by Durgin of Concord, N.H., and sold in Pittsburgh by Grogan & Co, circa 1900-1910. It had ivory finials and insulators and appeared to be engraved with AMMC. One can only speculate if this wonderful set had a place on a private rail car or office of Andrew Carnegie. This was their first year exhibiting at Bedford, and they were the only silver specialists there.
In a nearby booth, Sergeant Antiques of Woodbury, Conn., had a pair of classical figures carved in ivory that dated to the early Nineteenth Century and were Anglo Indian. One figure was Diana the Huntress and the other was Minerva. Both had beautiful detail in the carving. They also brought an impressive breakfront.
Linda Willaurer, Easton, Conn., and Nantucket, Mass., always packs her booth with a mind-boggling array of tempting porcelains, majolica, Staffordshire, and decorative rdf_Descriptions like tole trays and samplers. A stand out at this show was the gorgeous double sailor valentine in pinks with white and green, circa 1860 that was in its original condition and frame.
Lee Hanes of Hanes & Ruskin reported having a good show with sales on Saturday. He has been doing the show for about ten years and likes it very much. They saw some long-time regular customers and sold to people they had never met before (a set of six chairs and a Queen Anne table).
Howard Godel, a first-time exhibitor at Bedford said, “There were some real collectors at the show – serious people with serious art.” As an art specialist, Godel said that antique shows at the high-end are generally hit or miss, and while he didn’t sell well at Bedford, he did credit show manager Janet Robinson with putting together a good group of dealers. “I think that Janet Robinson has done a great job of putting together consistent group of quality dealers that have interesting things at very fair prices. People came from Irvington, N.Y., and especially Greenwich, Conn., to shop, so she is definitely reaching those customers outside of Bedford.”
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