Published: October 16, 2001
By Laura Beach
HARTFORD, CONN. – Better than expected, was the verdict of most Fall Hartford Antiques Show exhibitors, who regrouped at the Connecticut Expo Center after show manager Linda Turner learned on September 17 that, with American troops on high alert, the Connecticut State Armory would not be available as a venue for the annual fair on September 29 and 30.
“With complete support from my dealers, we made the move from the traditional location to the Connecticut Expo Center,” said Turner. “Our expectations were low, given the events that took place in this country on September 11 and the subsequent national mood. But the American flag, as well as America’s colors, red, white and blue, were prevalent at the show, along with the sentiment ‘Buy American.’ Expectations changed as the doors opened and familiar faces came through the door.”
Also better than expected was the Connecticut Expo Center, not glamorous, but convenient. “It is very easy to get to, the parking is wonderful, and set up and break down were simple. On the other hand, the food is inedible!,” reported Maine dealer Marie Plummer, echoing the consensus view.
“It doesn’t have the ambience of the Armory, but I didn’t hear a single negative comment from customers, ” said Massachusetts dealer Peter Eaton. Janice Strauss was among those who believe that a permanent move to the Expo Center would harm the show. “It has a very downscale image,” said the New York dealer. Turner said it is too early to say where the spring Hartford show will be held.
Just off of Interstate 91, north of downtown Hartford, the Connecticut Expo Center is one exit away from Nadeau’s Auction Gallery. Normally, exhibitors might consider this an advantage, but with Nadeau’s sale of the estate of well-known Hartford conservator Paul Koda occurring just two hours after opened, dealers felt their customers were unfairly pressed to be in two places at once.
The September 11 catastrophe has, of course, disrupted business, with antiques dealers describing collectors who are too distracted to buy. But many others said some of their regular customers made it to Hartford, snapping up uncommon objects they had waited months, even years, to buy.
“Local people came because they wanted to get away. They wanted to get back to normal, but they couldn’t quite. A lot of people I sell to didn’t come. But I ended up making a major sale just as the show closed on Sunday,” said Plummer.
“I thought there was a very good crowd, considering the last minute change of location. It was a serious crowd. I sold five pieces of casepiece furniture, to different retail people, ” said Eaton. He added, “I’ve had any number of people call over the past few weeks looking for things. That’s the absolute truth. Perhaps people have decided to put their money into hard goods. In any event, I haven’t seen any hesitancy in people buying things they really like.”
“It was the best Hartford I’ve ever had,” said a dazzled Joan Brownstein, who sold mostly paintings. “I sold a great portrait during set up. I sold another great portrait, of a woman with a lace bonnet with ribbons. It is by an unidentified artist but there are similar examples at Colonial Williamsburg and Wintherthur. Ann Verplank of Winterthur is working on an article. I also sold a wonderful seascape, almost six feet long, by William Edward Norton. Furniture is a bit slow, aside from the spectacular pieces,” said the Ithaca, N.Y., dealer.
Another pair of superb paintings turned up at Samuel Herrup Antiques. The Sheffield, Mass., dealer displayed a man and woman of the Van Keuren family of Kingston, N.Y., painted by Ammi Phillips during his classic period, circa 1830. Other desirable rdf_Descriptions included a Pennsylvania paint decorated blanket chest, Berks County, circa 1780, $22,000; a Philadelphia needlecase of 1764, $12,000; and a selection of redware from Pennsylvania and Connecticut.
Hollis Brodrick is in his element at Hartford, where his reputation for the choice and unusual ensures a steady clientele. “I had a super show,” acknowledged the Portsmouth, N.H., dealer. “I sold all kinds of things, including a large amount of Eighteenth Century ceramics and little historical rdf_Descriptions.” One such rdf_Description was a pair of English enamel pulls decorated with transfers of Henry Laurens and John Dickenson, representatives to the First Continental Congress. The hardware was $3,500. The dealer also featured an early mezzotint by Peter Pelham, America’s first engraver, of Thomas Prince, a Boston clergyman, $5,200.
It was also a good show for Nathan Liverant & Son. The Colchester, Conn., dealers featured a marvelous watercolor ship’s portrait, “The Brig Ann Eliza of Mystic” by James Guy Evans. The vessel appears off the coast of New London, with Groton’s famous fort in the distance.
Others rdf_Descriptions of note included a Suffield, Conn. Queen Anne flattop highboy, $55,000, with attenuated legs and flat, pad feet. Boasting substantial history was a Queen Anne side chair used by Jonathan Trumbull senior and junior while they were governors of Connecticut. The chair is marked by a brass plate, apparently one attached when the chair was exhibited at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in 1904.
Massachusetts dealer Pam Boynton sold a pricey stepback cupboard. “It is the only one I’ve had in ten years, and it was totally untouched. I was thrilled to have it. It came out of an old Mel French antiques show in Concord, N.H. years ago.” Reportedly, Boynton’s clients had waited for some time for just such a piece and splurged when they finally found it.
Moments after the show opened, South Salem, N.Y., dealer Janice Strauss sold a Connecticut cherry dish top, tilt-top tea table to collectors. That, plus fireplace tools, helped cover expenses. Sagamore, Mass., dealer Brian Cullity made a quick sale of an elegant galleried serving tray with cast brass handles.
Jeffrey Tillou lined his back wall with handsome casepieces. A flattop secretary bookcase from Rhode Island was $28,000; a Connecticut Chippendale serpentine front five-drawer chest was $11,500; and a Boston Queen Anne flattop highboy was $22,500.
More casepiece furniture turned up at Morgan MacWhinnie’s. Crammed into the Southampton, N.Y. dealer’s ample booth was a Boston walnut Queen Anne highboy, $58,000; a burled walnut Boston Queen Anne flattop highboy, $58,000; and a very nice selection of boxes in every medium.
Norwich, Ohio, dealers The Kembles featured a four-drawer tiger maple chest with rope-turned decoration, $2,500, and a New Hampshire Queen Anne flattop highboy, $37,000.
A Windsor sackback armchair was $7,800 and a New Lebanon Shaker ladderback armchair, $9,800, at John Keith Russell. The South Salem, N.Y., dealer had acquired a rare brass Seth Thomas yachting clock and was mounting it on his wall just before the show opened Saturday morning.
A stately architectural corner cupboard anchored one end of Hilary and Paulette Nolan’s booth. From coastal Maryland or Virginia, with traces of its original paint, the cupboard was $18,000.
Buckley & Buckley of Salisbury, Conn., offered a mid-Eighteenth Century Rhode Island maple slant-front desk, $13,500. A miniature blanket chest of butternut with its original leather hinges was $2,800, while a set of five York chairs was $7,950.
Jackie Radwin’s booth featured a Riley Whiting tall clock, circa 1830. With a paint-decorated case, it was $13,000.
Among many delightful finds at Ohio dealers Sam Forsythe’s and David Good’s stand was an Eighteenth Century Conestoga tool box, which would have once have been mounted on a wagon. It cost $5,500.
Jacques Bertan of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., brought a collection of coconut carvings, a sailors’ art that is much less well known than scrimshaw. Prices ranged up to $5,500 for an intricately pierced and carved covered bowl.
Marine paintings dealer Louis Dianni of New York and Florida sold a prized piece of folk art, a ship’s model in a bottle enclosed in a chip-carved wooden frame. The piece commemorates the Irish Rebellion of 1708.
American regional paintings specialist Frederic Thaler offered choice works by Henry Ward Ranger and J. Francis Murphy, including Murphy’s “Sunset Glow,” $14,500. A highlight at Ed Weissman Antiquarian was Adam Emory Albright’s “Autumn Landscape,” $10,700.
A beautiful crewel embroidered coverlet, $3,200, dating to the late Eighteenth or early Nineteenth Century added charm to Susan Stella’s stand. Grace and Elliott Snyder of South Egremont, Mass., had a folky heart and stars hooked rug, circa 1900, $5,500, on their wall.
One of the rarities in David C. Morey’s booth was a Jacobite dribbler glass for drinking games. Dating to circa 1790, it was wheel engraved “King” on one side and “Tinker” on the other.
Books of Connecticut interest were a draw in the booth of F. Russack Books, Danville, N.H. A typical volume was the leatherbound copy of dealer J.A. Lloyd Hyde’s 1954 reference, Oriental Lowestoft Chinese Export Porcelain, $175.
“Shows have been off since January, but I engaged in more good conversation than in any show this year. Hartford was more upbeat than I expected,” said Woodbury, Conn., dealer Harold Cole, who tempted customers with a New Hampshire highboy with original surface and brasses, $32,500.
“We were in a new place in new times. Even so, it felt like old times,” said Turner.
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