Published: November 25, 2003
– About 500 tickets were sold for the preview opening of the 40th Delaware Antiques Show on Thursday evening, November 6, at The Riverfront in Wilmington. The crab cakes were outstanding and plentiful, the guests seemed interested in the fine displays of antiques presented by the dealers, and there was lots of greetings and hand-shaking among friends. Were the dealers profiting from the event, other than enjoying the food and drink and visiting with some clients they see only at this show?
“Yes” and “no.” There were fewer on the “yes” side, as it did not appear the preview guests were spending as freely as they were having a grand time.
Reports on Friday morning were mixed, as was to be expected. Marilyn Gould, the show’s manager, said that she had heard of some good sales and a number of the exhibitors had indicated that they had “not opened the sales book.” She was, however, very pleased with the look of the show and noted, “The dealers have done a great job and things look fine. Visitors should be very pleased with the presentation.”
One of the exhibitors who reported a good preview was Michael Whitman of Fort Washington, Penn. “We had a fine preview,” he said, indicating that among his sales were a big copper cooking pot on four legs, Dutch origin, and a set of five pairs of candlesticks with diamond facet in the center and in graduated sizes. Among the other objects in the booth were a Seventeenth Century brass bed warmer with iron hardware, a three legged coffee urn, dovetailed construction, three spigots, Dutch, circa 1780, and a German copper wine flagon, 141/2 inches tall, 103/4 inches in diameter, circa 1800.
Wayne Pratt of Woodbury, Conn., did not sell any furniture the first night, “But we had some very strong interest in a few of the pieces and we are expecting people back today,” MaryBeth Keene said on Friday. As usual, many case pieces lined the walls of the large booth, while smaller pieces were displayed to the front. A portrait of the Wilson Family, attributed to William Matthew Prior, Portland, Maine, or Boston, hung on the back wall in a paint decorated frame. This oil on canvas, circa 1835-45, measures 271/4 by 321/2 inches. Nearby hung a rare diminutive oval carved Federal mirror, American, possibly New York, circa 1780-1800, and a Queen Anne carved walnut high chest of drawers, signed by Nathaniel Fullerton, Massachusetts, circa 1750-70, in a fine state of preservation. It measures 861/2 inches high, 38 inches wide and 21 inches deep.
Peter Eaton of Newbury, Mass., registered a few sales at the preview including a country Queen Anne drop leaf table in the original red paint with scrubbed maple top, Rhode Island, made with Newport underbracing, and a country cupboard with single raised panel door, applied cornice molding, in pine with old blue/gray surface, circa 1860. “It could be either New York State or Canadian,” Peter said, “but regardless, it was a wonderful piece and had a great look.”
He also had sold Chippendale chest in mahogany, a 12-panel New Hampshire chest and a Queen Anne mirror. Still remaining to be sold was a chest of drawers with ball feet, applied molding around the top, graduated drawers with beaded edges, red and white pine with maple feet, circa 1730-40, and of either Connecticut or Massachusetts origin.
“People were a little hesitant, but there was some buying on the floor and we did all right,” Cheryl Scott of Hillsborough, N.H., was saying as Paul was measuring an Amer-ican classical center table in mahogany, tilt-top, interesting configuration of veneers, circa 1835, for a customer on Friday morning. An interesting stretched-base tavern table with square legs, one drawer, circa 1800, Nineteenth Century paint decoration over the original red surface, was among other pieces of furniture. Smaller objects had found buyers at the preview including a small eagle weathervane, a pair of carved ducks, a miniature cupboard, and a pewter and wood candle mold.
Joan Brownstein, Art and Antiques, Newbury, Mass., showed a Chippendale chest-on-chest in cherry wood with most of the original brasses, old dry surface, South Shore, Mass., circa 1800, and a country Hepplewhite card table with D-shaped top, birch with bird’s-eye maple panel, string inlay, fine old color, New Hampshire, probably Concord, circa 1790-1800. A wonderful mourning picture, watercolor, circa 1830, New England origin, showed a woman in black dress beside a tombstone that supported three tall urns, with groupings of three trees to the left and to the right.
Victor Weinblatt of South Hadley, Mass., was right at the front of the show with his collection of unusual and colorful objects. This time out he offered a step back cupboard in mustard paint, with a collection of seven still building banks lined up across the front. In addition to game boards and carvings, he was offering early signs that advertised such products as “Native Lobsters,” “Homemade Candy,” and “Chocolate, Fudge, Salted Nuts.”
Furniture in the booth of Taylor B. Williams, Chicago, included an American high-boy, Northern Massachusetts or Southern New Hampshire, circa 1750-80, and a Federal Hepplewhite card table in mahogany, circa 1790-1810, probably North Shore Boston, in all original condition.
A standout in the booth of Kyser-Hollingsworth, Inc, Washington, D.C., was a charcoal on canvas by William Bradford, an arctic scene showing a full-rigged ship against a large ice formation, signed lower right “Wm Bradford.” It measured 28 by 54 inches and dated circa 1875-85.
“I generally bring between 150 and 200 quilts to a show, and that is just the tip of the iceberg; there are a great many back in the shop,” Stella Rubin of Potomac, Md., said. Among those hung were a lone star example in vivid colors against a blue ground, and an American flag against the back wall.
Dixon-Hall Fine Arts of Malvern, Penn., was set up in the passage joining two of the exhibition rooms, creating a well-lit gallery for the works of art. A very colorful garden landscape, oil on canvas, was by Maude Drein Bryant (1880-1946), 25 by 30 inches, signed lower right “Maude Drein,” that descended in the estate of the artist. Nearby a view of “Autumn on the Hudson” was hung, an oil on canvas, unknown Nineteenth Century artist, who had captured the fall in all its glory. With the river in the background, and trees foliage at its height, two cows grazed without care in the foreground. This work measured 24 by 351/2 inches.
Jackie Radwin’s booth was right at the end of this passageway and few missed the circa 1870-80 crib quilts hung on the wall because of the bright colors and very graphic pattern. The San Antonio, Texas, dealers also offered a New England open-top step back cupboard that had been cleaned down to the original salmon paint, circa 1800, and a tin and iron weathervane in the form of an Indian with bow and arrow, mid-Nineteenth Century, probably New York State, with a Ray Egan provenance.
“We had a good preview and sold several children’s plates, as well as Staffordshire,” William Kurau of Lampeter, Penn., said, and “it has started off OK this morning.” Terry mentioned, “A couple came in last night and looked at a series of Eighteenth Century bird prints we had, and they were back this morning to buy them.”
“You don’t want to try to lift this alone,” Sidney Gecker of New York City said as he patted the rim of a large decorated piece of stoneware. He went on the say, “It is the largest piece I have ever seen and it came from Andalusia, the Biddle family estate.” The piece was found buried in one of the many greenhouses on the property a good number of years after the growing business had ceased. When found, it was without its two handles, but a companion piece, broken, was found at the same location with the handles intact.
“We had something to work with at that point, so the handles were recast exactly as the originals,” Sidney said. The pot measures 29 inches tall, Nineteenth Century, and was from the David Parr Pottery in Baltimore. “The last time I did this show it was at the Country Club, and it is nice to be back,” he said.
Jan Whitlock Antiques Textiles of Chadds Ford, Penn., hung a large quilt at the back of her booth, a kaleidoscope example that was attracting all kinds of attention. “I think the Nineteenth Century chintz was probably from a salesman’s sample book, New York, due to the many variations of the fabrics,” Jan said.
She had a nice painted country bed set up in the booth, but the bed drawing the most interest was in her showcase, a folk art doll bed from Lancaster County, Penn., with a tall openwork headboard carved with semicircles and birds. The foot was carved with two animals, possibly mice but more in the shape of pigs due to the short tails. In any case, it had the original straw-filled mattress and fabric sewn with old thread in an early pattern. Two large punched tin coffee pots on the back wall flanked the quilt.
Decoys and hunting and game pictures were offered from the booth of Stephen O’Brien, Jr, Boston, including a turned head canvasback drake by the Ward Brothers, Crisfield, Md. This decoy was solid cedar with pine head, glass eyes, and was signed “L.T. Ward Bros, 1936, Lem & Steve Ward.” “I could have sold that box over there any number of times, but is a prop and not for sale. Guess everyone likes the yellow color,” Steve said. He mentioned one of the people interested in the box was a lady who wanted to display a blanket box in the middle of a room, thus all four sides had to be painted. This one fit the bill, but since it was not for sale she continued her hunt around the show and was last seen in the booth of Sidney Gecker checking out the box on legs he was offering. It, too, was painted on all four sides.
“Smalls are the story these days and sometime I am going to come to a show with about ten cases, all filled to the hilt, and no furniture,” said Greg Kramer of Robesonia, Penn., who was doing the show for the first time. The preview resulted in the sale of one piece of furniture, a formal armchair, and many smalls including an Eighteenth Century paint decorated box, glass, tole spice cabinet and several carvings. A view of the Berks County Almshouse, 1855, oil on zinc, 44 by 37 inches, signed “Louis Mader,” hung over an eight-leg Windsor bench, red and black decorated, with floral designs on the three back splats. Across the front of the booth was a large Pennsylvania pine trestle table, Eighteenth Century, covered with many objects including a selection of pewter basins and a large blue and white ironstone pitcher.
Philip H. Bradley Co., Downingtown, Penn., was at the front of the show with a large and varied collection of furniture. A sold sticker was attached to a circa 1730-40 Chester County, Penn., Queen Anne walnut chest on legs, and shown on a raised platform was a Berks or Lebanon County paint decorated dower chest with the original brasses and tulip decoration on the two front panels. The mate to this chest is in the American Museum, Bath, England.
Many people were admiring the very rare walnut William and Mary bible box with cotter pin hinges in the booth of H.L. Chalfant of West Chester, Penn. This box had a stepped top, herringbone inlay on the front, was raised on four ball feet, and dated circa 1740. A Chippendale spice box was also of walnut, Pennsylvania, circa 1775, with arched paneled door, 11 small drawers, and ogee feet. A brightly painted oil on canvas, hanging on the back wall, depicted a horse in stall with the groom, signed “H. Hall,” circa 1889 and of English origin.
Nathan Liverant and Son of Colchester, Conn., offered a fine selection of furniture, with many Connecticut pieces including a Queen Anne highboy with a carved and punched tobacco plant decorating the lower center drawer. This piece is from the central part of the state, 1750-55, and it descended in the Lyman Hall family of Wallingford, Conn. He was a signer of the Declaration of Independence for Georgia and the highboy was being sold with two Windsor side chairs that descended in the same family. A Chippendale mirror in mahogany was with bird and incised vine decoration in the crest, American or English, circa 1750-60, and a Chippendale tall chest in mahogany was of Rhode Island origin, fan carved in the top drawer, tall bracket feet, grained surface, dating circa 1785-95.
“It has been unbelievable, the best first night of a show we have ever had,” Stephen Huber of Old Saybrook, Conn., said on Friday. Of special interest, and a piece that caused great interest on the floor of the show, was a Philadelphia needlework sconce, very rare, in the original shadowbox frame with the original glass. It dated 1747 and had a single brass arm candleholder. “One person came right into the booth and bought it, and there were two other interested people right behind,” Carol Huber said. She added, “It was very exciting to handle such a rare piece.”
Several other major pieces of needlework sold at the preview, and, in fact, the center of the wall had a whole new look on Friday morning. Of the samples sold, those of Pennsylvania origin were the most popular.
John Sylvia, Nautical of Nantucket, Mass., had an interesting selection that ran from a stack of Nantucket baskets shown in the center of the booth, to a collection of ivory pie crimpers and carved figures such as a tobacco figure on stand attributed to the shop of Samuel Robb, and a Lady Liberty in old paint, American, circa 1820-40, made in honor of General Lafayette. A large carved and gilded pine eagle, circa 1860-80, once was a fixture on the roof of a courthouse in New Hampshire.
Don Heller of Heller-Washam, Woodbury, Conn., was doing the show for the sixth year and said, “It was a good preview, and I think a couple of people will be back who showed strong interest in some furniture.” His preview sales included a globe on stand, Queen Anne mirror, bible box, several miniatures, and portraits of George and Martha Washington, oil on wood panels, Philadelphia School.
Instead of red dots, red hearts indicated sold rdf_Descriptions in the booth of Leatherwood Antiques, Sandwich, Mass. And those little hearts were everywhere, stuck on Black Forest bears, dogs and owls, trade signs, bronzes, plaques and children’s pottery. On preview night along about 20 examples of children’s pottery, including both cups and plates, disappeared from the front showcase.
Many guests could be invited to dinner, and all seated, using the dining table that was shown across the front of the booth of Estates Antiques of Charleston, S.C. It was 12 feet 8 inches long and supported by three carved pedestals with paw feet, Philadelphia origin, in mahogany. To further outfit the dining room, a New York City sideboard was offered, circa 1800-10 in mahogany with veneer.
A Connecticut highboy of small size, old finish, 341/2 inches wide and 641/2 inches high, was show by Marie Plummer/John Philbrick of North Berwick, Maine. “We have had interest in our New England chair table and the people may be back today,” John said. This early piece with three-board top, poplar and pine, original red surface, had a 481/2-inch-diameter top over a joined and turned base.
Antonio Jacobsen was represented in the booth of Quester Gallery, Stonington, Conn., with an oil on canvas showing the American schooner Marion N. Cobb. This work, measuring 213/8 by 331/2 inches, was signed and dated lower right, 1908, oil on artist board. The Collins Line, USM Atlantic off Point Lynas, was signed and dated lower left by Samuel Waters, 1850, an oil on canvas measuring 24 by 38 inches.
“We have been doing this show for the past 12 years, and we are pleased with it so far this time,” James Labaugh of Pound Ridge, N.Y., said. For the most part he noted that early English pottery and Chinese export are probably the most popular in this region of the country.
This show is presented annually as a benefit for Winterthur and proceeds are used toward the maintenance, development and educational programs. The sponsor is the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies and the preview is sponsored in part by Ron Bourgeault and Northeast Auctions.
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