Story and photos by R. Scudder Smith
YORK, PENN. — Shows come and go, but there is one constant in the business — . “We have been here at the York Fairgrounds for 33 years now, and we’re still going strong both in the spring and in the fall,” Jim Burk, manager, said. At the same time he showed some concern as plans unfolded for two additional shows on the fairgrounds during his dates, October 31-November 1.
Jim is moving the Greater York Show out of Memorial Hall and into the new building at the fairgrounds, the Expo Arena. Barry Cohen will be moving his York Tailgate Show, now going on ten years old, out of the Quality Inn and into Memorial Hall. Frank Gaglio, Barn Star Productions, is starting a new show, The Pennsylvania Antiques Show, also to be staged in the new Expo Arena.
“Three shows at the same place and at the same time, it might work,” Jim said, adding, “it is not going to make me do anything different. We are still going to put on the show collectors and dealers have come to expect these many years.” Truly the Greater York Show has become the destination of many major players in antiques, and both private and museum collections have benefited from the objects that have turned up there over the years.
“I was doing this show when it first started and there were no walls, it was more table-top at that time,” dealer Jim Glazer said, “and the show has always been good to me and countless other exhibitors.” Jim Burk mentioned, “When we went to walls as we know them today, we made them and still own them. Since we do not have to rent walls, we can keep the cost of doing our shows more in line.” He is designing a new floor plan for the arena and there is a good chance that a few more dealers will be added to the list of exhibitors. At present, 123 are named in the program.
Pennsylvania furniture, redware, folk art and quilts arrive in great quantity at York, and New England objects are right behind. With all parts of the East Coast and beyond represented by the dealers, variety is the spark that keeps people coming back. “Some great things came into the show this time,” Jim said. One person who was outside the main entrance midmorning on Friday said, “Just about everybody coming out of the show had a package or a piece of furniture in tow.”
Without question, there were many tempting objects. At the front of the show the booth of James Kilvington, Dover, Del., offered a large flower quilt with red and green design on white, scalloped edges; a barber pole with the original red and white surface, about six feet tall and eight inches in diameter; and two early trade signs. One was painted metal, curved, with “warehouse” spelled out in red and gold letters on a blue field. It was signed by the artist, “Wright PTR.” Another sign advertised the trade of a Mr Burtt, watchmaker.
Furniture filled the booth of Joanne Boardman of DeKalb, Ill., who had just the ticket for anyone looking for a good hutch table. In fact, she displayed two of them. The first dated from the Eighteenth Century, shoe-foot, 43- by 45-inch top, and came out of historic Greenston Hall, Va. The other, a New England shoe-foot, pine with hardwood top, 42 by 47 inches with old surface, dated circa 1780.
If documentation and provenance are important to a buyer, then interest should have been shown in a Vermont tall chest in the booth of Don and Kay Buck, Chester, N.J. The tag read, “This case of drawers was made for Chole (Dart) Robinson by her father, Dart, in Wethersfield, Vt., in 1785 out of cherry wood boards from trees on his farm. She was mother of Clarissa (Robinson) Larmed and grandmother of George B. Larmed.” The chest measured 51 inches high, 41 inches wide and 181/2 inches deep. Also shown was a New England blanket chest, petite, with both the front and the back with a yellow and brown painted surface. It was only 37 inches wide and dated circa 1840.
A portrait of a large rooster with red comb hung in the booth of Rockingham, Vt., dealers Stephen/Douglas. A nice stand with grain-painted drawer and spool-turned legs was shown, and a pastel of a man seated in the red-painted thumb back Windsor side chair was attributed to W.M.S. Doyle, Boston.
A well-carved pair of Susquehanna River geese decoys, circa 1950, possibly by Madison Mitchell, was in the booth of Tom Brown, McMurray, Penn. Among his furniture was a large two-part Pennsylvania corner cupboard with curved and reeded waist and columns, fitted with a center drawer, bracket feet and in walnut.
An Eighteenth Century one-board top stretcher base chair table in old red was in the booth shared by two Portsmouth, N.H., dealers, Sharon Platt and Hollis Broderick. The top of this piece measured 311/2 by 261/4 inches. Tim Hill of Hill Gallery, Birmingham, Mich., showed a weathered whirligig of four horses in a riding ring, Midwest origin, in the original paint. It was powered by windmill blades. Also shown was a theorem picturing a bowl of fruit with floral borders, circa 1835, 29 by 28 inches, from Turnbridge, Vt.
A carved and painted fish trade sign, New England, dating from the early Twentieth Century, 301/2 inches long, ex Bert Hemphill collection, was shown by Russ and Karen Goldberger of Rye, N.H. A Queen Anne tavern table with scrubber top, original red painted base, circa 1750, was among the pieces of furniture in the booth. Rich and Pat Garthoeffner of Lititz, Penn., offered a Fiske weathervane, horse and sulky, circa 1890, with overall gilt surface, and a pair of cast-iron candlestands, circa 1880-1924, handwrought with spun brass. A nice portrait of a kitten, oil on canvas, was signed by the artist, H. Haskell.
Maine was the origin of several pieces of furniture shown by Pam and Martha Boynton, Groton, Mass., including a grain-painted crib, red and black, turned corner posts with finials, and a painted and decorated blanket box. Several painted clock faces were also shown.
John Sideli of Hillsdale, N.Y., offered a marble clock face with Roman numerals, circa 1910, E. Howard & Co., and a large shoe trade sign in leather with brass eyelets for the laces. Another trade sign came from a shop where “Expert Watch Repair” was once done.
Attracting lots of interest in the booth of Raccoon Creek, Bridgeport, N.J., was a rounded counter in the original paint and well-worn top board that came from an old Bernville Hotel and dated from the mid-Nineteenth Century. A large wooden eagle, with a wingspan of close to three feet, original white painted surface, Massachusetts origin, was perched on a large ball.
Marilyn Kowaleski of Warnersville, Penn., had several red sold tags about her booth, one fixed to a rag rug runner and another to a dome-top document box. A painted and decorated chest of drawers on turned feet had half columns applied to the front.
Steven Smoot Antiques of Lancaster, Penn., offered a painted and decorated set of six plank seat Windsor side chairs, circa 1840, from Lancaster County, along with a tramp art mantel clock, circa 1880, 30-hour movement, from Ansonia, Conn. A pie safe with screen, paint decorated, circa 1860-70, was from Delaware.
Another set of six Windsor side chairs was in the booth of Olde Hope Antiques, New Hope, Penn. This set, with roll-top backs, was painted white with red rose decoration, probably Philadelphia origin. A swan decoy, attributed to John Vickers, Cambridge, Md., 1935, measured 311/2 inches long and had inset glass eyes and lead weight, and a hooked rug depicted a village scene, wool on burlap, Pennsylvania origin, 38 by 75 inches. Little was missing from this scene for it was complete with horse-drawn horses, a train, church, homes, animals and people.
Newson and Berdan of Hallowell, Maine, offered a slant front desk with a highly figured walnut interior, figured walnut case, circa 1799, from Eastern Pennsylvania, and a dome-top box, dating from the Nineteenth Century, was painted black with fruit and flower decoration. It was probably schoolgirl art.
Courcier and Wilkins of Austerlitz, N.Y., hung a Pennsylvania needlework, portrait of a lion, executed in wool yarn, 521/2 by 33 inches, circa 1870, and a hooked rug dating from the late Nineteenth Century depicting a large cat, flanked by two kittens, within an oval. A hooked fish portrait from New England dated circa 1900, 281/2 by 501/2 inches, and would have been a good catch in anyone’s book.
Furniture in the booth of Samuel Herrup, Sheffield, Mass., included a late Chippendale chest of drawers, mahogany and mahogany veneer, circa 1780, with the original brasses. It was on ogee feet and measured 34 inches high, 38 inches wide and 191/2 inches deep. A set of four thumb back Windsor side chairs, 1830-1840, was from New York State and signed “RIS…Y Savannah,” probably the maker.
Brenda and Terry Daniel of Newville, Penn., displayed a variety of early signs including those advertising Rooms, Information and Horseshoeing. An interesting bag holder from a country store carried an advertisement by Coke. A collection of 13 miniature baskets was displayed on an old towel rack by Jeff and Cathy Amon of Jamestown, Penn. A colorful “Bait” sign was offered, probably from a shop that carried fishing lures and decoys similar to those displayed in this booth.
From North Berwick, Maine, Marie Plummer and John Philbrick showed “a rare survivor,” a wood and tin chandelier dating from the last quarter of the Nineteenth Century. A New England pine corner cupboard with H hinges and shaped shelves, Massachusetts or New Hampshire, circa 1770, had been scraped down to reveal the old blue painted surface.
James and Nancy Glazer of Villanova, Penn., also had a set of six chairs for sale, fancy decorated side chairs from New York State, 1810, red painted with gold leaf decoration, turned legs with bold center stretcher. A Pennsylvania decorated blanket chest, circa 1840, was in red paint with smoke decoration and yellow and green strips running vertically at the ends.
A cast-iron, life-size, Labrador, circa 1880, stood guard at the booth of Harry Hartman of Marietta, Penn., and two display cabinets were filled with yellowware and other Pennsylvania pottery. Among the hooked rugs in the booth was one showing a pair of black roosters with red combs, and an interesting carousel figure of a goat, original paint, was shown.
David Wheatcroft of Westboro, Mass., hung an oil on canvas of a young girl in red dress, holding an “ABC” box, one of the Darling sisters from West Auburn, Maine. This work was attributed to Sturdevant Hamblin, circa 1840. On a stand nearby was a leaping stag weathervane, of small size, copper with cast zinc head, dating circa 1880.
Taking up lots of booth space at the entrance to the show was Greg Kramer of Robesonia, Penn. Painted furniture, pottery, folk sculpture and fabrics filled the area, and there was backup still in the truck. On the floor was a paint decorated blanket chest with recessed oval panels from Berks County, and one corner of the booth was taken by an Empire-style cupboard in two parts, 12 glass door, sophisticated stipple decoration, from Bernville, Berks County.
The Greater York Antiques Show will open again on Friday, October 31, and run through Saturday. “The fact that we are moving into new quarters here on the fairgrounds will not change the show,” Jim Burk said.