Published: October 12, 2004
While comparisons good and bad can easily be drawn between today’s Fall Connecticut Antiques Show in the Expo Center and the good old days in the armory, most of them seemed to be moot after touring this most recent event. The show proved to be bright and colorful in contrast to the “brown” reputation that it once garnered, it was somewhat smaller and cozier, and in stark contrast to the cold and unappealing building it is housed in, the Fall Hartford show was warm and inviting.
Long regarded as a bellwether, Hartford is often seen as reflection of the strength of this segment of the Americana business. What did we read from this year’s show? Hartford once again proved that the market is healthy; granted, it is not as healthy as it has been in days gone by, but it is healthy nonetheless. The one question that must be answered, and everyone seems to have a different opinion, is what is it going to take to get the crowds back to the show?
While the vast majority of the dealers that we spoke with reported good sales, there were some dealers that were disappointed with the show; one went as far as saying it was “very discouraging.” Some said they only did business at the opening, some only did business during the day on Saturday, some made most of their sales on Sunday, and yet others had sales literally minutes before the show closed Sunday afternoon. The only thing that everyone agreed upon was that low attendance hampered the show.
Management reported the gate that was “up slightly from last year’s Fall Hartford,” but still much quieter than it has been in the past. A moderate-sized crowd was on hand for the opening and the gate fluctuated between steady and slow throughout the weekend. Although somewhat disappointed with the crowd, show manager Linda Turner commented, “The right people came and that what really matters.”
“I was encouraged by the sales,” stated Turner. “It was kind of a mixed bag as it is at every show, but a lot of the people I spoke with had good sales.” Looking around the floor moments after the show opened, Turner noted that several pieces of furniture had sold right off the bat from a variety of booths including a lowboy from Janice Strauss, a Newport Queen Anne drop leaf table from Don Heller, a large convex mirror from Edwin Ahlberg and a four-drawer chest from Peter Eaton’s stand. “There were also a lot of smalls sold as well, we saw an awful lot of people leaving the show with bags,” she said.
Janice Strauss occupied one of the booths at the front of the show and it was not long after the doors opened to the public that retail customers snapped up an early Massachusetts lowboy, circa 1730, from her booth. The dealer, doing the Hartford show for the 42nd consecutive time, reported a “very good show.” Strauss stated that numerous other rdf_Descriptions were sold from her booth including a Pembroke table with string inlay, “the best Spanish foot side chairs in tiger maple and maple in an old finish” that she has ever owned, a candlestand, a framed crib quilt, a country table and a white painted Hudson Valley chair. The dealer also reported a couple coming into her booth that had flown in from the West Coast just for the show. They left her booth with a rare pair of Eighteenth Century brass candlesticks.
Arthur Liverant brought a varied selection of furniture ranging from Pilgrim Century six-board blanket chest to a Classical marble top pier table. Somewhere in the middle of those periods was a superb selection of Chippendale including a graceful secretary desk with bonnet top and flame finials. Liverant’s early blanket box was inscribed “HK,” which the dealer stated were the initials of Haynes Kingsley of Northampton, Mass. The Connecticut River Valley molded and carved box, constructed of yellow pine, dated to circa 1690-1710. Another piece attracting attention in the booth was a North Shore diminutive Federal mahogany sideboard. The piece, with a tambour front and fluted legs, had nice string inlay and retained the original brasses.
New to Hartford this year was Cincinnati dealer David Evans who recorded several “solid sales.” Evans had done the spring show and was doing the fall version for the first time. “I thought the show presented itself beautifully,” stated the dealer, who sold a variety of rdf_Descriptions including a Connecticut State House comb back Windsor in old dark green paint and a wonderful fanback with widely splayed legs and exaggerated wide back. “Both of the chairs are pictured in Nancy Evan’s book American Windsor Chairs,” stated the dealer, who also commented that he sold a pair of portraits of a Pittsburgh couple. “The frames,” said Evans, “were almost better than the portraits. They were black with a yellow liner and they were spectacular.” The dealer also reported selling a Boardman two-quart pewter flagon.
Morgan MacWhinnie had a stellar looking booth filled to the brim with choice pieces of American furniture ranging from a William and Mary ball foot desk that sold during setup, to a Boston serpentine front chest of drawers with blocked ends, circa 1770. Sales for the dealer were good during preshow, but waned after that with only a couple of smalls moving from the booth after the doors opened. The dealer also reported selling a banister back armchair and a Dutch shelf clock during preview. Other highlights of the booth included a Chippendale chest-on-chest with fan carving and bonnet top, a curly maple tall chest and a nice maple porringer top tavern table.
Buckley and Buckley also recorded sales with smalls in their booth moving well. The dealers commented that they sold a variety of glasswares including some early Steigel-type copper wheel engraved goblets, some horn beakers and assorted brass rdf_Descriptions. “We saw a lot of old friends and good customers at the show,” stated Don Buckley, with one client leaving the show with a rare pair of early tall four-slat ladder back chairs from their booth. “We only owned them for 20 minutes,” stated the dealer.
Dan and Karen Olson reported a very good show, and in contrast to others, the majority of their sales were recorded on Sunday. Dan Olson stated that he sold three cupboards including a “very good” Federal paneled cupboard in a great old yellow paint that was made in the Cooperstown, N.Y., area. The dealer also stated that he sold two Hudson Valley cupboards, one in red and mustard paint and another in green over the original blue paint. Cupboards were not the only furniture to sell from the booth as a 7-foot-long Sheraton harvest table in birch and butternut found a new home, as did a variety of smalls.
David Good and Sam Forsythe had one of the most colorful booths in the show with their back wall filled with a stellar selection of New England and Pennsylvania redware in vibrant green, orange and red glazes. Among the outstanding pieces was a New Bedford jar in a brilliant green color, a large pitcher from Hartford, and a green glazed jug with orange “parrots eyes” from Essex, Mass. Several pieces of stoneware were also offered including a crock decorated with a scruffy looking ponytailed man’s face with a cigarette in his mouth, and also a keg with pinwheel decoration and embossed decoration of a man’s head.
Hartford has changed with the times and is a show well worth attending; those that missed this fall’s show should make plans to be there next year.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm