Published: November 30, 2004
Over the years the Delaware Antiques Show has been a show on the move, not only in attracting a formidable list of exhibitors, but also in location. The show has been at the Hotel du Pont, The Wilmington Country Club, the Soda House, Tatnall School and of late the Riverfront. This fall the show, November 12-14, moved again, but within the confines of the Bank One Center on the Riverfront. The show took up two large areas, connected by a hall that also served as exhibition space for a gallery setup for Dixon-Hall Fine Art and F. Russack Books.
Marilyn Gould, the show’s manager, said, “Everything went wonderfully well, the gate was up and many of the dealers reported good to excellent sales.” According to members of the show committee, the gate was up close to 1,000 visitors and about 100 more preview tickets for November 11 were sold this year.
The new exhibition space called for a different floor plan and the dealers who once occupied the lobby area of the building were moved inside. With careful planning, Gould designed a plan that gave maximum exposure to the dealers. Sightlines were such that many of the booths were visible from one spot, presenting visitors with a choice of direction to take. It was both pleasing and inviting.
At the front of the first room was the booth of Norma Chick, Autumn Pond, Woodbury, Conn. where there was a stand of full-bodied weathervanes including a leaping stag, two eagles, three horses and a large fish that was sold during preview. A set of 26 blue and white Delft tiles featuring sea creatures was shown partly as a fireplace surround, the rest piled on the floor nearby. The tiles were from Holland, circa 1800.
“You never though I was a furniture dealer,” Norma said Friday morning as she helped carry her pair of Nineteenth Century mahogany Queen Anne North Shore side chairs out of the show. Also sporting a sold sign was a Hepplewhite demilune card table in mahogany and bird’s-eye maple, circa 1800, from coastal New England. A trade sign in the form of a boot was also missing from an end wall. “My show here last year was the best of all the shows I did in 2003, and this looks like it going to top that,” Norma said.
Jesse Goldberg of Artemis Gallery, North Salem, N.Y., offered a nice selection of furniture and found a good audience at the show. “It was very good for me,” he said as the show closed on Sunday. Among the pieces of furniture in his booth were a Classical sofa in mahogany, Boston, 81 inches long, circa 1815-20; a Classical mirror, circa 1820 with gilt and black painted surface, 60 inches long and 23 inches high, original backboard, also from Boston, and a Hepplewhite bow front chest of drawers in mahogany with rosewood banding and mahogany veneer on the drawer fronts. This piece measured 42 inches wide, 21 inches deep and 361/2 inches high, dated circa 1790-1800, and was from Baltimore.
Sylvia Antiques of Nantucket brought its nautical power to the show, offering a collection that included a close to life-size carved wooden figure done in the manner of a ship’s figurehead. It was a male figure, eastern white pine and polychromed, possibly the sign for a tailor. It was of New England origin and had descended in one Nantucket family since 1902. A carved and painted finback whale by Clark Voorhees, Weston, Vt., circa 1950, was shown on a shelf that also included the “Old Salt” doorstop in two different sizes. About 20 Nantucket baskets in various shapes and sizes were displayed, and continuing the nautical theme was a mechanical bank, Jonah and The Whale, by Shepard Hardware Co., July 15, 1890, in the original paint.
An interesting Kent County, Del., William and Mary blanket chest, circa 1735-50, with original surface was shown in the booth of James M. Kilvington, Dover, Del. He noted that he had been saving some Delaware furniture for this show and that, in regard to the William and Mary chest, “family history places the chest along the Mother Kill River.” Also from Delaware was a Chippendale side chair with molded crest rail, broad yoke and bold ears, circa 1775. A large example of work by the illustrator Frank E. Schoonover hung in the booth, a woodland scene titled “As the Canoe Swept By,” from American Boy’s Magazine, May 1940.
Sidney Gecker American Folk Art of New York City showed a large Wilhelm Schimmel eagle. This piece by the Carlisle, Penn., carver was in the original paint and measured 34 inches wide, 20 inches high. An American pike weathervane, circa 1870, maker unknown, was displayed on a New England grained three-drawer chest, signed and dated on the back, “Murcy Willey Pike, 1827.”
Peter Sawyer of Exeter, N.H., showed a banjo clock by Benjamin Morrill, Boscawen, N.H., circa 1815, on the back wall of the booth, and displayed on a chest of drawers was a bronze eagle by Laurence Isard, Ohio, dating from the early Twentieth Century. Artist Laura Coombs Hills was represented by a pastel of “Pansies in Green Vase,” against a blue background.
A pair of American sewer tile lions, probably Ohio, circa 1870, 30 inches long, guarded the entrance to the booth of Diana H. Bittel Antiques of Bryn Mawr, Penn. Against the back wall was a Federal inlaid mid-Atlantic sideboard with a solid mahogany one-board D-shaped top, banded inlay, bellflowers and figured mahogany, with bellflower inlaid legs. It dated circa 1790-1810 and measured 40 inches high, 631/2 inches wide and 23 inches deep. A British sailor’s woolwork of good size showed a large central ship with a fort and windmills in the background to the left. This piece dated circa 1860 and was rare due to the presence of sailors in all parts of the picture.
“We got off to a good start at the preview, and it continued throughout the show,” Arthur Liverant of Nathan Liverant and Son, Colchester, Conn., said. Early sales included a decorated leather fire bucket with the name Williamson on it. “A man bought it for his wife during the preview as it had hen maiden name on it,” Arthur said. A sold ticket was also on a William and Mary ladder back side chair, Delaware Valley, circa 1760-80. A large carved pine eagle with the original black and gilt painted surface, Boston origin, mid Nineteenth Century, hung on the back wall near a Chippendale tall case mahogany clock, eight-day brass works, sign by Daniel Burnap (1759-1838), Windsor, Conn. The clock was being sold with two needlework samplers by the same family, one by a daughter, Mary Delia Burnap.
Christopher T. Rebollo of Mechanicsville, Penn., had a sold sign on the Sarah Smedley inlaid high chest in walnut, Chester County, dated 1737. Also offered were a late Georgian Rococo looking glass of large size and elaborate form, and a rare set of shield back Federal side chairs in cherrywood, circa 1800, Massachusetts origin.
In addition to a large selection of mechanical and still banks, and a collection of early tin toys, Gemini Antiques of Water Mill, N.Y., showed a pair of Ammi Phillips paintings, oil on canvas, circa 1830, of Mr and Mrs Ranson of Poughkeepsie, N.Y. The works descended in the family until they came on the market. Against the outside wall of the booth was a sheet zinc, iron and wood eagle flagpole finial, circa 1900, American, with a David Schorsch provenance.
A large bookcase with four doors in the top section took up a good portion of the back wall in the booth of Cheryl and Paul Scott of Hillsborough, N.H. It was of Massachusetts origin, 6 feet wide and 7 feet tall, “the kind of furniture you love to sell at a show so you do not have to pack it out and take home,” one person said. The Scotts did sell the bookcase during the preview, but “we have to take it home and store it for possibly a year,” Paul said, adding, “the buyers are moving east from the Midwest and have yet to buy a home to put it in.”
In addition to selling the largest piece of furniture in the booth, they also sold the smallest, a child’s step back cupboard of Pennsylvania origin. One wall was decorated with a set of 12 painted tin shorebirds, patented October 27, 1873, and a stretcher-base tavern table in pine and maple, circa 1780, had a two-board breadboard end top and was of New Hampshire origin. “People seem very up, have a good positive attitude and are enjoying the show,” Cheryl said.
“One of the rarest pieces we have at the show is this Staffordshire Historical black transfer plate showing the ruins of the Merchant’s Exchange following the great fire of 1835,” William Kurau of Lampeter, Penn., said. A large pitcher depicted the burning of Moscow with a Russian soldier carrying a bayonet with a French soldier on it, a Russian chopping block, Europe preserved, on one side, and “Hourrah Your Highness!!” on the other.
When one asks Mo Wajselfish of Leatherwood Antiques, Sandwich, Mass., how business is going, there is a chance you will be still standing there ten minutes later while he reels off an impressive list of sales. And why not? Show visitors have hundreds and hundreds of objects to pick from in his booth, objects that run the gamut of interests. Bronzes spill from one or two long shelves onto another, Black Forest bears hold inkwells or coats, trade signs sell any number of products, woolies come in various sizes, child oriented Staffordshire is a specialty, and that is only the tip of the iceberg. Red dots were scattered about the booth shortly into the preview, accounting for sales of a carved owl forming the base of a piano stool, a Swiss tobacco box, circa 1880, in the form of an owl that Mo called “majestic,” and a rosewood mirror, circa 1870, of French origin.
Stephen and Carol Huber of Old Saybrook, Conn., were having a good show. “We sold four nice pieces of needlework between the preview party and the first hour of opening day,” Stephen said. Three of those works were Pennsylvania, two from Philadelphia. While taking in a needlework picture worked in “the old style,” probably Boston with a reclining shepherdess, 1740, Charles Hummel of Winterthur said, “This piece is just great, it should have lights around it.” He was equally attracted to a canvaswork picture from the Wing family of Sandwich, Mass., Seventeenth Century, with an urn of flowers, deer, birds, lion and other flowers.
Malvern, Penn., exhibitors Tom Dixon and Audrey Hall of Dixon-Hall Fine Art had a red sticker on an oil on canvas by Oscar F. Adler (1868-1932), “Cows at Rest.” This work was signed lower right and verso, “Adler” 1905, and measured 20 by 28 inches. Frank E. Schoonover’s (1877-1972) oil on canvas painted in 1931 measured 25 by 38 inches and depicted a hunter with rifle and canoe in a winter scene. “We had a call from a person from Wisconsin who saw our George Armfield’s ratting scene, terriers after a rat, in the show section [of Antiques and The Arts Weekly] for the Delaware Show, called us at the show and bought the paintings,” Audrey said. In total the gallery sold five paintings.
F. Russack Books of Danville, N.H., occupied the portion of the hallway that was not the gallery space for Dixon-Hall and offered countless books and catalogs from both sides. In addition to being a book expert, Rick Russack is also a fine judge of fudge and spent a great deal of time raving about some of the sweet stuff brought into the show by his neighbor, Norma Chick. On opening day he ventured, “I would be glad to share it with you, but I left the box in my room.”
Second to the fudge was “a very good show, in fact I made the single largest sale to one person I have ever made,” Rick said. He told of a new collector who came to the show from South Carolina and wanted to expand his knowledge and began just picking out one title after another. “He ended up with 50 to 60 books, some out of print editions, some card table types and a good number on furniture styles,” Rick said. The sale was made during the preview and the next day a shipper was there to pick up about six large cartons.
H.L. Chalfant of West Chester, Penn., had three dish-top candlestands at the front of his booth, all of Pennsylvania origin, two of them Philadelphia pieces. The similarities included snake feet, bird cage and mahogany. Among several Windsor chairs was a comb back with carved ears, vase and ring turnings, D-seat, blunt arrow feet, from Philadelphia, circa 1770. A rare, walnut tavern table of small size, oval lift-off top, turned legs, H stretcher, ball feet, was of Pennsylvania origin, circa 1750, with an early Nineteenth Century green painted surface. A couple passing in front of the Chalfant booth was overheard saying, “This is a real nice show with some wonderful things.”
A Charles Loof carousel goat was rearing up at the front of the booth of Wayne Pratt, Inc, Woodbury, Conn., a carved figure in white pine, original paint, glass eyes, circa 1880, from Brooklyn. A Queen Anne high chest in figured walnut, 861/2 inches tall, dated circa 1760, Eastern Massachusetts origin, and the Josiah Bartlett apothecary stood out on the left side of the booth. This rare country Chippendale piece of painted pine, New Hampshire, circa 1760, is about tops in the apothecary field. It measures 553/4 inches high, 36 inches wide, 9 inches deep and has nine rows of five drawers each. It is in the original red paint, with many of the original labels on the drawers, and some Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century packaged and loose medicines and herbs in the drawers. During the preview and first day of the show, “We sold our high chest, two tables, and a pair of andirons,” Wayne said.
Among the pieces of Pennsylvania furniture shown by James L. Price Antiques, Carlisle, Penn., were a paint decorated blanket chest from Dauphin County, circa 1800, and a Queen Anne chest of drawers with a rectangular molded edge top, two small drawers over two long drawers, bracket feet, dating circa 1770. A Queen Anne high chest of drawers rested on cabriole legs with faceted stocking feet, the front legs with shell carved knees, circa 1765, was from Philadelphia.
Color was brought into the booth of Marcy Burns American Indian Arts, New York City, through a number of blankets hanging on the walls including a vibrant Navajo transitional child’s blanket in red, green yellow and white. A Navajo Germantown eye dazzler in excellent condition dated circa 1880 and was in brilliant shades of red, green, maroon and blue. A Navajo second phase child’s blanket, circa 1865, was in excellent condition despite its recent use. “This blanket came from a small auction house in Maryland where it was used as a moving blanket,” Marcy said.
“Marilyn did a terrific job setting up this show; you can see several booths all at the same time and it shows off the wide variety of things available here,” Jackie Radwin of San Antonio, Texas, said. Jackie’s booth had lots of wall space and a corridor going through it. “We thought it would be difficult to set up at first, but it all came together and we love it here,” she added. Taking up one corner was a Mifflin County, Penn., “Big Valley” corner cupboard on bracket feet with crown molding, yellow over the original red, circa 1840, and close by hung a pair of portraits attributed to Moses Dupart Cole, oil on academy board, circa 1815, in the original gilt frames. Each measured 163/4 by 203/4 inches, 141/2 by 181/4 inches sight.
A pie safe from Ohio in green-blue painted surface, six punched tin panels on the front and three on each side, dated from the Nineteenth Century and was most unusual. “I love this piece and have never seen houses punched into tin panels,” Jackie said. She also was fond of a Nineteenth Century game board with pinwheel decoration in each corner, executed in black, orange and mustard paint with some gilt trim.
Among the pieces of formal furniture offered by Federalists Antiques, Kenilworth, Ill., were an American neoclassical sofa with carved mahogany dolphin arms in yellow upholstery, and an American Hepplewhite heart back side chair in mahogany, Philadelphia, circa 1795.
“This is not just a social preview, but people came to buy and they are doing just that,” Don Herr of Lancaster, Penn. Doing the Delaware Show for the third year, the Herrs got off to a good start selling a number of hooked rugs, some textiles and three early coverlets from a collection of about 24 brought to the show. A Maine Linsey-Woolsey bed covering, circa 1800, had an olive green center, dark brown sides, with floral decoration in three squares. “We were just able to buy a large cookie cutter collection and people are showing interest in them,” Don reported.
A row of eight glass decanters, six of them holding a single red rose, easily caught the attention of visitors passing by the booth of M. Finkel and Daughter of Philadelphia. “This is a very strong show,” Amy Finkel said, pointing out the quality offered by the dealers, a surge of interest from the customers and no sales tax in the state of Delaware. About 50 samplers were either hung on the walls or stacked in the corners, and before noon on opening day, “We sold five samplers, two from Philadelphia, one Pennington, N.J., one New England origin, and one English example,” Amy said. Of Pennsylvania origin was a Federal corner cupboard in cherrywood, circa 1810, arched glass doors with columns down the sides, and arched top with center finial.
“This is one of the top five Jacobsens known,” Michael Florio of Quester Gallery, Stonington, Conn., said of the 36- by 72-inch oil on canvas hanging in his booth. It pictures the New York Yacht Club schooners with the tug Cyclops and the U.S.R.S. cutter escorting. Also shown were a period dockyard model of a naval steam frigate, circa 1835-45, 52 inches long and wood construction, and “The East Indiaman Rodney” by Thomas Whitcombe, British, 1763-1824, signed and dated 1788 lower right, oil on canvas, 28 by 48 inches. “Usually we bring more pictures to hang and they generally end up with only about seven inches between them when all are hung,” Michael said, “but this time we brought fewer and now they are spaced about 20 inches apart. We like the look better.”
An American marine painting hanging in the booth of Guy Bush, New York City, pictured the same tugboat as shown at Quester Gallery. In this oil on canvas, signed lower right by Geog M. Towle and dated 1879, the tug Cyclops of the New York Yacht Club is the featured boat in the painting.
A Windsor step down arrow back settee in the original green paint with decoration across the back splat, yellow feather decoration on the arrows and turnings, was shown across the front of the booth of Newsom & Berdan of Hallowell, Maine. This piece dated circa 1810-20 and was from Eastern Pennsylvania. A dry sink with blue painted surface, a row of drawers down the right side, high feet, was from Boiling Springs, Penn., mid Nineteenth Century. A Newburyport slant front desk with red interior, Chippendale oxbow, ogee feet, birch and maple, dated from the late Eighteenth Century.
Mark and Marjorie Allen of Amherst, N.H., brought a selection of furniture including several Pennsylvania pieces including a walnut slip seat side chair with carved scrolled ears, cupid’s bow front seat rail, cabriole legs and ball and claw feet. It was in excellent condition, circa 1760. A set of four Windsor side chairs, fan back with carved ears, was attributed to Joseph Henzey of Philadelphia, circa 1785, and a two-piece corner cupboard, circa 1775, measured 73 inches tall and had a single door with 12 lights.
The design Victor has adopted for his booth allows a generous amount of wall display area where there is always a selection of interesting signs, game boards, carvings and pictures. A circa 1870 bar door in cobalt blue, Pennsylvania origin, hung on a side wall, facing a New England country store hardware cabinet, circa 1880.
Philip H. Bradley Co., Downingtown, Penn., had what amounted to the space of two booths and it was all filled with a wide selection of furniture including an early Philadelphia area ball foot spice chest in walnut, circa 1720-30, and a Philadelphia high chest by the Claypoole workshop, mahogany, circa 1750. The piece retained its original set of rare brasses marked “J. Stow.” A mahogany tea table, scalloped top, circa 1750, was from Baltimore of Alexandria, Va., and a paint-decorated bamboo Windsor settee, straw color over original black, Philadelphia, measured 79 inches and dated circa 1780-1800.
On Friday visitors were invited to a lecture on “How to Buy an Antique” by Alexandra Alevizatos Kirtley, assistant curator of American Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and on Saturday Lita Solis-Cohen gave a book signing and discussion of Maine Antique Digest: The American Chronicles.
The success of this year’s Delaware Show lies directly in the lap of the dealers. It was obvious the effort put into the show, the selection of objects to be displayed, and the presentation. Marilyn Gould gave them a venue, and they used it well.
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