Long regarded as a repository for prime American antiques, The Fall Hartford Antiques Show proved once again to be true to its nature. Billed as a show that featured “American furniture and decorative accessories from the past that one chooses to live with in the present,” the show presented a prime selection of materials from many of New England’s finest dealers.
Taking place over the weekend of October 21 and 22, the show looked handsome as it prepared for opening. A large crowd began forming at the doors more than an hour prior to the 10 am start and by the time promoter Linda Turner swung the doors open, the buyers were eager for action.
Show promoter Linda Turner reported that the gate was “a little lower than it was last year, but, I heard quite a few good reports so it didn’t really affect the show’s success.” Selling was reported across a broad spectrum ranging from furniture to jewelry — which was exhibited for the first time ever at The Hartford Antiques Show.
Furnishings on the floor ranged from formal to folky, as did the accessories with interest being paid to items across the board.
“It has been pictured in just about every book on painted furniture,” commented Wayne Pratt in regard to a fabulous grain painted four-drawer chest in the Hepplewhite style from the Matteson School, South Shaftsbury, Vt., circa 1825. The chest, with faux grain painted panels and inlay, was done well enough that it took a second glance from many entering the booth to distinguish it from Pratt’s regular lineup of formal chests and case pieces. Another painted piece in the booth was an early Queen Anne oval top tap table in original dark paint with cabriole legs ending in pad feet.
From the selection of formal furnishings offered by the Woodbury, Conn., dealer was a Chippendale mahogany blocked-end serpentine front, four-drawer chest, circa 1770, thought to have been made in Salem, Mass. Also offered was a carved Queen Anne maple flat top highboy in satisfying proportions that retained an early red painted finish, Essex County, Mass, circa 1770, that had descended in the Bradford family of Salem, Mass.
At the front of the stand belonging to Colchester dealer Nathan Liverant and Son was an important Connecticut Federal mahogany shield back armchair with carved rosettes flanking a central carved urn on the back. Made in Hartford County, circa 1790, the chair was getting attention from clients, as was an Upper Connecticut River Valley cherry tall chest with unusual carved pilasters. The chest was listed as having descended in the Stark family of Colchester and Rutland, Vt.
While the furniture in the booth was capturing quite a bit of attention, so was a cherry Chippendale tall case clock with a boldly scroll decorated hood and an eight-day brass movement signed by the maker, Silas Parsons, Swanzey, N.H. Hanging on the sidewall of the booth was an impressive folky portrait of a young girl seated in a blue-painted bow back Windsor armchair, dressed in her finery and proudly holding the peach that enticed her to sit still long enough for W.M.S. Doyle to complete the pose.
Peter Eaton’s booth greeted patrons as they entered the show and this year the dealer offered two strikingly similar country Chippendale chest-on-chests, both in good old color and both thought to be of New Hampshire origin. Both were made of birch, one in flame, and both retained great old surfaces. New Hampshire furniture was popular in Eaton’s booth; a Chippendale tiger maple slant front desk with a bold ogee bracket base and a pleasing interior was among the offerings, as was a Queen Anne drop leaf table in tiger maple and birch that had been discovered in central New Hampshire and was believed to have been made close by. Finishing off the selection of New Hampshire goodies was a Federal tall case clock with brass works by John Kennard, Newfield, N.H., with a wonderful grain painted case thought to have been made by Henry Wiggins, Jr.
Although not of New Hampshire origin, Eaton also displayed a “great as found” chest on frame from the first quarter of the Eighteenth Century that had been made in eastern Connecticut. Commenting on the unusual truncated appearance, Eaton explained that the chest had been compromised by the cabinetmaker when he was drilling the hole in the frame for the ball feet. Unable to repair the chest, the cabinetmaker cut the rear stiles and never drilled the hole for the other foot, instead applying blocks to be used as feet. Eaton termed the chest a “wonderful survivor in a great old surface.”
One of the pricier pieces of furniture on the floor came from the booth of Heller Washam, Portland, Maine, and Woodbury, Conn., with the offering of a Chippendale cherry bonnet top highboy from the Glastonbury area of Connecticut, circa 1775. The handsome piece featured a “pleasing arrangement of graduated drawers and shell carvings of exceptional quality,” according to dealer Donald Heller. Also offered from the booth was a diminutive Chippendale blocked-end chest of drawers in figured mahogany, thought to be from either Boston or Salem, Mass, circa 1770, and an unusually small and delicate Federal inlaid sideboard also believed to be from the Salem area. Furniture with a more country flair was seen in a Queen Anne cherry and maple porringer top tea table with unusual shaped sides on the top extending outward to the porringer corners.
“Lotta good stuff in this booth,” proclaimed Woodbury, Conn., dealer Harold Cole as he glanced over his shoulder and into the stand that he occupied with Bettina Krainin. The dealer was quick to point to a Connecticut River Valley blanket chest in red and black grain paint, an oval top tavern table, a William and Mary gate leg table and a couple Queen Anne drop leaf tables.
One of the more unusual pieces of early American furniture to be seen on the floor was displayed in the booth of Stephen-Douglas, Rockingham, Vt., in the form of a rare press cupboard that was believed to have been made in North Hampton, N.H., circa 1725. Standing on tall legs, the three-drawer chest with triple-paneled single door cupboard on top was in old red paint and retained the early batwing brasses and the overhanging top was supported with turned columns. Country accessories surrounded the piece, including an eagle painted drum, an unusually large courting mirror, and an oversized hat box in the form of a top hat.
A stellar selection of embroideries and samplers were offered by Stephen and Carol Huber that ranged in price for the low to mid five-figure mark. Of particular note in the booth was a register that had been executed by Loise Newhall, Lynn, Mass., circa 1815, with a well executed floral border and a homestead scene with a weeping cherry tree and memorial on one side and a harbor scene on the other with sailing vessel, other homes and livestock. Another sampler that was eliciting attention was a silk on linen work by Mary Pinckney, executed in 1742 in Boston.
It did not take long for items from the Bill Guthman collection, sold at auction in two sessions by Ron Bourgeault and his staff at Northeast Auctions and Bonhams the week prior to the show, to surface on the market. Sagamore, Mass., dealer Brian Cullity featured a collection of Revolutionary War period embossed leather wallets that had come from the Guthman sale, including one of the most coveted lots, a wallet that was boldly embossed “Liberty.” Other examples from the collection included one that was embossed with a clipper ship and several that had initials and dates.
Dan and Karen Olson kept their tradition of writing sales slips alive as they started early on in the show with a series of sales to many of their regular customers. Steve and Lorraine German were also busy in their booth getting nibbles and bites on numerous pieces that ranged from an early sawbuck table to a rare early Manhattan stoneware jug with lower bung-hole a large incised and blue-filled flower with the bold stamp “spirits” underneath the decoration.
Paintings were featured in numerous booths including Captain’s Quarters, Amherst, Mass., with a portrait of the brig CWM Avon by T.G. Purvis highlighting the selection. Jaffe and Thurston also featured paintings along with their usual assortment of furnishings including a water scene titled “Approaching Dusk, Venice” by Warren Sheppard, and David and Donna Kmetz offered an Impressionistic homestead scene by George Newell.
A wonderful pair of folk portraits that were described by Newbury, Mass., dealer Joan Brownstein, as “masterful in their boldness of the characterization of a rater ‘quirky’ couple” were featured. The dealer related that the portraits, circa 1820, had been exhibited at the Museum of Early American Folk Art in 1969 and had come from the Eckly collection. Also offered from the booth was a family record from the Amenia Academy in New York that had been designed around a central house motif with fenced yard and trees.
The Fall Hartford Show once again proved to be a popular event with good buying and selling reported from those in attendance. There is little reason needed to justify why Turner’s Fall Hartford Show remains a mainstay of Americana shows.