By Genevieve Ward
BEDFORD, N.Y. – In the small bedroom community of Bedford, talk of the town’s annual spring antiques show begins as early as September. That is when committee members begin to plan the ever-interesting loan exhibit, as well as to encourage community members to patronize the show. For 17 years, has brought a fine selection of antiques and art to an appreciative audience.
This year was as difficult as any, with the slow economy affecting the town’s residents in direct ways that other towns may have not experienced. A large number of Bedford residents are in the Wall Street and banking sectors, so the community was particularly sensitive to the economic downturn. As other shows also noticed, the casual collector was tighter with spending money, and dealers could not necessarily count on impulse purchases.
Despite this, the 17th annual show (held April 5-7) brought out a loyal contingent of antiquarians from Bedford and its environs, and pleased most dealers with satisfying sales.
“I was pleasantly surprised,” said show manager Janet Robinson, a former antiques dealer specializing in Chinese export porcelain. “A handful of the dealers said this show was their best Bedford ever. We had more preview guests than last year.”
One of Robinson’s tactics is to keep a balanced show with a variety of quality dealers in different specialties. The show features expert dealers in clocks, porcelain, silver, fine art, early furniture, even early garden sprinklers.
For the highest-end dealer, Mrs Robinson notes, sales were hard to come by, but what the dealer counts on with Bedford is consistent exposure that eventually attracts serious buyers.
Marjorie and Michael Whitman of Fort Washington, Penn., exhibited at Bedford for the first time this spring. The dealers specialize in copper and kitchen metalware. Marjorie recalled, “Attendance throughout the weekend seemed constant. The show is very well managed by Janet Robinson and pack in and pack out went very smoothly. We are very happy with our sales and we look forward to doing it next year.”
Also exhibiting for the first time was Yellow Church Antiques of Salt Point, N.Y. Owner Mark Thormahlen brought as a centerpiece to his booth a circa 1815 Regency mahogany breakfast table, which measures 48 inches in diameter.
Other dealers are show regulars, and patrons look forward to meeting dealers each year. Always exhibiting the unique and unusual is Marion Harris of Simsbury, Conn., who brought to this show a wall of models of crystal shapes from a German museum. Marion also showed a collection of vibrant coral, and a group of what she termed “turn-of-the-century William Wegmans,” a selection of vintage photographs superimposed with dog faces, done by Ohio dog breeder Mary Wright in the 1950s. The unique works appealed to every dog lover, as the breed of dog used appropriately fit the human form.
Paintings are a strong suit at Bedford. With a half-dozen fine arts dealers, subjects range from English still lifes to American marine paintings to French portraits and landscapes. Prints are amply offered by the Philadelphia Print Shop, while Fletcher/ Copenhaver of Fredericksburg, Va., always introduces talented artists such as Moses Soyer and Augustin Hanicotte.
According to Joel Fletcher, “Our sales included several of the drawings by Moses Soyer which had been in the recent exhibition at Mary Washington College, and the large ‘synthetic resin’ painting by Cordray Simmons of ‘A View of the Cloisters in New York.’ The show seems to have a very loyal following and many of our old customers came through.” Other sales included a number of pieces by various French Nineteenth Century artists.
At Hanes & Ruskin of Old Lyme, Conn., not only was early furniture available, but so were a collection of silhouettes by August Edouart, a Frenchman who came to the United States in 1840, and traveled from Boston to Syracuse to Washington. One particularly notable example depicted the Lamb family of Boston, 1842. The dealers, who specialize in early American furniture and pottery (as well as an intriguing case of objets de vertu), also brought an 1825-40 New York State sideboard in dramatic tiger maple.
Clinton Howell of New York City, a regular in the show, enjoyed a more spacious booth at this year’s show, located in the lower level. On view was “the best armchair I’ve ever seen,” according to Howell. The 1720 walnut example from Ireland was priced at $125,000, and featured a carved face on the knees, claw feet and hairy shank. It was lovely with its green velvet upholstery, and comfortable, too, according to the 6’5″ dealer enjoying a rest during the preview.
Another show regular, Bonsal-Douglas, has exhibited at Bedford for 16 years. On view was an 1830 oil on canvas by Thomas Weaver depicting Hereford cows. The dealers also showed a lovely 1860 bronze partridge signed Ferdinand Pautrot, with gold patina and elaborate foliate carving.
Hastings House Antiques of Essex, Conn., has been exhibiting at Bedford for nine years, and brought to this show a six-fold Japanese temple screen from the Meiji reign, late 1800s. The screen was beautifully detailed, from the small figures in the farmland to the vibrant blue of the water made from crushing lapis stone.
Specializing in antique clocks is Charles Edwin of Louisa, Va. Said dealer Jill Probst about a diminutive George III example, “To me, this is the perfect, classical form.” The London clock by Robert Wood featured reeded pillars, with almost no decoration needed to enhance its fine molding.
New York City dealer Clifton Leonard said about the preview, “The party was the nicest I can remember and there did seem to be selling on the floor. I had the best preview and the best show I have had in three years.”
His sales included a circa 1770 French provincial walnut commode with hoof feet, and a circa 1830 French mahogany games table. He also sold a pair of cast-iron frogs from a fountain, and “bags full of silver and smalls,” according to the dealer. Following the show, follow-up calls led to two additional sales.
Winsor Antiques of Woodbury, Conn. brought a rare faux bois-decorated armoire containing a longcase clock with 30-hour movement. The Nineteenth Century burlwood piece measured 51 by 21 by 87 inches and came from the Alsace region of France. The dealer also exhibited a late Eighteenth Century provincial walnut secretaire a abattant from the Lyonnais region, which he paired with an Empire period walnut bergere-form armchair, circa 1810.
English furniture was on view at Thomas Schwenke’s booth. This dealer, also from Woodbury, showed a George III figured mahogany two-part secretary that dates circa 1800-05, as well as a circa 1800 George III carved mahogany breakfront with dentil molding. Appropriate décor included a circa 1810 Regency carved and gilded girandole convex mirror.
King-Thomasson of Ashe-ville, N.C., brought a circa 1760 Georgian oak gate-leg table and a circa 1770 English chest of drawers in a rare, small size. The dealers also had available a circa 1860 Ashworth English ironstone dinner service with polychrome decoration.