Published: November 18, 2003
– “I can tell you one thing for sure, I will not be the last one to open my show in the spring or in the future,” Jim Burk said after reflecting on the events of the Halloween weekend at the York Fairgrounds.
The Greater York Antiques Show opened on Friday, October 31, at 11 am, after a two-day setup for the 129 dealers. That same day Frank Gaglio had opened his new show, The Pennsylvania Antiques Show, at 9 am, and Barry Cohen, with his York County Classic Antiques Show (formerly The York Tailgate Antiques Show), had opened with early buying at 7 am.
Jim Burk went on to say, “The people were exhausted since many of them had gotten up early that morning to make Barry’s opening, and then moved on to spend a couple of hours at Frank’s show before getting to mine. I can see how they were tired and I think it was reflected in the buying.” He noted that some of his exhibitors reported they had not done as well as usual, but added, “There are always the ones who do very well, and that was true again this year.”
The Greater York Antiques Show & Sale had its start 34 years ago and for the first year there was only a May edition. “The second year of the show, when we saw it was really going to catch on, we added a fall show and have had it ever since,” Jim said. This show, for years, has been a spring and fall destination for collectors and dealers and has been the source for fine material, especially objects with a strong Pennsylvania bloodline.
With the completion of the new York Expo Center on the York Fairgrounds, more exhibition space opened up and it became a magnet for other events. Jim Burk moved the Greater York Show to one half of the large exhibition space in the center, and Frank Gaglio moved into the other half with his new show. Barry Cohen, who already had a presence on the fairgrounds with a spring event, moved into Memorial Hall, Jim Burk’s former home. Opening hours for the spring — that is anybody’s guess.
“The Expo Center worked well and it is a very nice facility,” Jim said, and he laid out the show there much in the same pattern as at Memorial Hall. Some of the dealers felt the aisles could have been wider, but “the public seemed to like the setup,” Jim said. The lighting is an improvement over Memorial Hall and it appeared the janitorial staff was constantly on the job.
The strength of the Greater York Antiques Show is reflected in the management of Jim and Donna Burk. “Sometimes we get mad at him, disagree with some of the things he says, and even want to just give up,” one dealer said, but added quickly, “In the long run it all works out and we find ourselves joking with Jim and having lots of fun.”
Many of the exhibitors speak of the relaxed atmosphere at the show and how, for the most part, “Jim just lets the show sort of run by itself.” This York show has had a successful 34-year run, ranking high on the list of shows to attend for collectors, and it is a pretty good bet that Jim Burk is determined to keep it that way. With competition nipping at his heels, watch for Jim to begin kicking up some dirt.
Courcier and Wilkins of Yarmouth Port, Mass., gave the show’s first impression just inside the gate, and it was their usual quality display of Shaker and more. A step down Windsor side chair dating from the early Nineteenth Century retained the original black paint, and a two-door cupboard in tulip wood, original red stain, circa 1830, was from either New Jersey or Eastern Pennsylvania. It measured 651/2 inches high, 481/2 inches wide and 191/2 inches deep. A spice chest in butternut dated from the Nineteenth Century and a collection of ten Nantucket baskets in various sizes and shapes was lined up on several shelves.
A mini exhibition of needlework hung in the booth of Van Tassel Baumann, Malvern, Penn., including a sampler by Sarah Ann Bicking, 1832, from Chester County. This work hung in the Ashbridge House, Downingtown, Penn., until it was bought a number of years ago by the late Philip Bradley. The sampler was worked with a variety of birds, flowers, a butterfly and a large central tree. A green-painted corner cupboard, two parts, had turned feet stamped “W. Greim,” Pennsylvania or Ohio, circa 1820-30, in all original condition.
Daniel and Karen Olson of Newburgh, N.Y., filled their booth with furniture including an Eighteenth Century tea table in maple, and Eighteenth Century slant lid desk with fitted interior in maple, both of New England origin. A total of nine Windsors were offered, both armchairs and side chairs, continuous arm and fanbacks, some in paint and some in the original finish.
A gold ball topped a nice red, white and blue barber pole in the booth of Doug Wyant, Cassopolos, Mich. Other colorful rdf_Descriptions included game boards and a game wheel decorated with advertising for butter. Hoping to stir some local interest, Greg Berry from Westminster Station, Vt., offered a York County blanket chest with grained surface, circa 1840, along with some early signs including one for Gasoline and one stating “Our Entire Store is Air Conditioned.” An interesting cathedral bird cage, circa 1930, had more than 30 finials or stacks on the roof, a tall steeple and paint decorated.
Willie Freeman of Breer, S.C., was the maker of the African American bedroom set shown by Odd Fellows Antiques, Mount Vernon, Maine. It included a bed and dresser with mirror, circa 1940, in hand carved oak with the original stain. A large sign from a butcher’s shop, originally from Western Connecticut, circa 1940, showed a large pig contemplating its future in the company of two roosters. Sidney Gecker, New York City, offered a couple of weathervanes including a well-patinated horse and jockey, circa 1860-70, 32 inches long, and a yellow painted and stenciled four-drawer chest, New England, circa 1840-50, with double ball feet and a two-drawer glove compartment on top.
Jeff and Kathy Amon of Jamestown, Penn., displayed an Ohio paint decorated cupboard, originally built in so one side was not painted, 881/4 inches high, 70 inches wide, with two glass doors in the top section, two drawers and two paneled doors in the lower. A two-board top Pennsylvania farm table had rounded corners, scrubbed top, turned legs and button feet.
Neverbird Antiques of Surry, Va., hung a pair of portraits, unknown couple, circa 1838, Chittenango, N.Y., her with a bonnet and shawl, and him in a decorated Windsor side chair and jolly round face. Another portrait of a girl in a blue dress holding a basket of flowers had been in an exhibit at the American Museum of Folk Art. It was by Milton Hopkins (1789-1844), oil on poplar panel, New York, circa 1835.
Janice Strauss, American Antiques, South Salem, N.Y., offered a booth filled with furniture including an American Hepplewhite oval-top Pembroke table in cherry wood, probably Massachusetts, tapering legs, measuring 323/4 by 381/2 inches when open. A six-drawer American tall chest was of Massachusetts origin, circa 1770, ruddy old surface, with a fan carved in the center of the top drawer. An American Chippendale tea table, maple, was the original red paint on the apron, scrubbed two-board top, circa 1750-75, and probably of Rhode Island origin.
Ronald and Penny Dionne of Willington, Conn., showed a Jewell rooster weathervane of large size, zinc with copper tail, and several game boards including one in bright yellow paint with green center. A set of six plank seat Windsor side chairs was offered, four of them in yellow paint with decoration on the back splat, the two others unpainted. A Twentieth Century wind-toy depicted two men sawing wood, one other chopping with an ax, and several birds taking it all in perched in a tree.
Eve Wilson of McLean, Va., had exhibited at York ten times during the early years and now, after a 15-year absence, was back. She showed a set of six stenciled chairs with rush seats, circa 1830, Jennersville, Penn., Chester County; a work table with a two-board scrubbed top, and a large eagle weathervane on banner that came from a courthouse in Portland, Maine. “I enjoy being back at this show and like the floor plan with the long aisles,” she said.
Mark Keily of Dayton, Ohio, offered an Eastern Pennsylvania walnut chest-on-chest on frame, cabriole legs on trifid feet, and a folk carving of a blacksmith, executed from one log, with the original dark surface. A summer spread from Flushing, Mich., 16 squares with flowers and people, appears to have actually been made in eastern Pennsylvania or Maryland. A pair of Vermont portraits hung in the booth of Carlson and Stevenson, Manchester Center, Vt., a Mr and Mrs Arunah Walker of Benson, Vt., circa 1835, oil on canvas in Nineteenth Century frames. A grouping of five different ships were pictured in watercolors, each ship under full sail, and a game table in the original red surface dated circa 1830-40. A Nineteenth Century child’s rocking horse, Shoefly, retained the original blue paint with red decoration.
A hutch table in walnut with rare block and cylinder turnings, oval top, original wooden wheels, Pennsylvania, circa 1790-1810, with a 53- by 46-inch top, was at the front of the booth of James and Nancy Glazer of Villanova, Penn., and Bailey Island, Maine. A dwarf clock with wag in the wall movement was in a mustard painted case, and a graphic sign pictured a sundae and sandwich, offerings of A. Carmell – Montreal House.
A large pencil drawing on paper by Ferdinand Brader hung in the booth of David Wheatcroft, Westboro, Mass., showing “The Property of David G. and Margaret Hertzog, Cumrutown, Berks Co, Penn., 1880.” It appeared to be in the original frame. A New Hampshire carved horse, late Nineteenth Century, stood on a new base, and a two-sided boot trade sign advertised the business of R. McManus, circa 1870. Jacob Maentel was represented by a portrait of a woman in a blue dress holding a red book, watercolor and pencil on paper, circa 1830.
An untouched Chippendale four-drawer chest from Philadelphia, mahogany and mahogany veneer on poplar, circa 1780, original brass and ogee feet, was shown by Samuel Herrup of Sheffield, Mass. Other furniture included a Massachusetts Sheraton card table in mahogany, bird’s-eye maple panels, serpentine front and sides, circa 1810-1815, probably North Shore, and a large portrait of Frederick Horton, N.Y., was by Loring Elliott of New York. He was a member of The National Academy of Design, New York City, and executed more than 700 pictures in his lifetime.
“A lady came into my booth and wanted to buy a long bench, but was not sure how she would be able to get it home,” Howard Graff of Townshend, Vt. said. “After learning she was a friend of Harry Hartman, I suggested she go over to his booth, buy something, and ask him to deliver it,” he said. Next thing the bench was in Harry’s booth, and delivery was arranged. “This is my first time in York, and I am delighted with it, it has been a good show for me,” Howard said. Among his sales were a cast-iron frame, corn dryer, small table, sugar tongs, three pictures and slave irons.
James Grievo of Stockton, N.J., was busy selling smalls, including a burl bowl, whale weathervane, pieces of redware and mocha, two game boards, eagle weathervane, coverlet and a couple of early signs, but no furniture as of the first day. “I found people thought it was too much for them with three shows all opening on one day and toward the close on Friday a few indicated they were too tired to make any decisions,” Jim said. He felt the New Hampshire schedule was working so well due to the staggered opening and “I would like to see something different next year in York,” he said.
It would not be a Pennsylvania show without a dower chest such as the example in the booth of James Kilvington of Dover, Del. This painted and decorated chest from Dauphin County was dated 1806 and carried the owner’s initials. A pair of tramp art frames hung on the back wall of the booth, and a set of six plank seat side chairs in salmon paint had a stenciled design on the top splat.
Olde Hope Antiques of New Hope, Penn., offered several pieces of furniture including a five-drawer chest in cherry wood and poplar with red and black decoration, 501/2 inches high, circa 1830, Lancaster County. Ed Hild noted, “We have had a good show and there seems to be a good crowd.” He listed among their sales a still life, a dower chest, Crandall, N.Y., rocking horse in the original paint, a compass point artist box, several baskets and a quilt.
The two large sets of shelves that are always a part of the booth of Harry Hartman, Marietta, Penn., made the move easily and appeared to be designed to fill the end wall in his corner booth. And as usual, they were filled with a large collection of yellowware and Pennsylvania redware. “It has been a good show for us,” Harry mentioned, reflecting on his sales that included a Pennsylvania Windsor chair, a large settle in natural finish, a large swan carving, several pieces of pewter and many pieces of yellowware, a pair of andirons and a good collection of Halloween related rdf_Descriptions, mostly papier mache. Two stag weathervanes were shown and one of them sold on opening day.
“There is a good interest in New England furniture here,” George Speicker of North Hampton, N.H., said. His first day sales included a Newburyport card table, an oval table, two weathervanes — a fish and a running horse — and a number of smalls.
A sign announcing the Boot & Shoe Repairing business of one W.A. Rice hung in the booth of Don and Kay Buck of Chester, N.J. A small size bucket bench, circa 1860, held a collection of carvings, a large red, white and blue wooden shield was displayed, and an Index horse by J. Howard dated 1855-65.
Thomas Longacre of Marlborough, N.H., said, “This show has been really good for me, very active with many collectors coming through, and it has been a nice overall crowd.” He sold a combination of furniture and smalls, including a stretcher base tavern table, a Windsor base tavern table, a hooked rug with sheep design, decorated frames, an elephant hitching post top and several pieces of early lighting.
Charles Wilson of West Chester, Penn., noted, “It is really too much for one day for visitors and I would like to see the openings staggered.” (Again that remains to be seen.) In spite of it all, he said business was “good” and cast iron was still selling. He offered a heavy collection of mill weights, eagles, frogs and signs, including the familiar Indian trade sign, the logo for Pontiac.
“It’s been good for old Jane,” was the comment from Jane Wargo, Wallingford, Conn., who had spent a good portion of the opening day selling things. Missing by midafternoon were a vertical sundial from Vermont and dating from the Nineteenth Century, a countertop three-drawer chest from Boston, an apple drying rack, a lunch sign and a strawberries sign, and a fine market basket, Nineteenth Century, from Canterbury, N.H.
“I have had lots of bites on my large hutch table,” Thomas Peper of Lewisburg, Penn., said, referring to piece with a four-board from Frederick, Md., “and I am hoping by the end of the show it will be sold.” Other furniture included a step back cupboard in blue, with two doors on top and two on the bottom, and on the walls hung a Grenfell rug depicting five ducks in flight, a still life with newspaper, whole and peeled fruit, and a colorful sign with an arrow worded “Peaches — 100 Yards.”
There are some things a show manager can control, such as hours open to the public, the number of setup days and the dealer list, that reflects the quality of the show. There Jim Burk is in complete control. However, there is something about the new location that is out, and will remain out, of his control. “The hot dogs at the Expo Center are not as good as the ones at Memorial Hall,” he said.
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