Published: April 15, 2003
Review and photos by Laura Beach
PHILADELPHIA, PENN. — Once humble, the painted furniture and whimsical folk crafts of Pennsylvania Dutch country led sales at , a top venue for Americana. Now in its 42nd year, the 57-dealer fair boasted brisk attendance during its first three days, before closing at the 33rd Street Armory on Wednesday, April 9.
“We sold out of tickets at the Friday night opening again this year,” said Karen Mullen, chairman of the show benefiting the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center. “We had record attendance for the New Collectors Evening on Saturday.”
The show’s exuberance owes much to the vivid red, green and yellow of many of its exhibits. Jim and Nancy Glazer’s display case — what Massachusetts dealer David Wheatcroft nicknamed the “tower of power” — was full of redware, chalkware, Schimmel carvings, bright red toleware and a selection from Jim Glazer’s newest passion, rare occupational shaving mugs. Much of the case’s contents, along with a diminutive red and black Soap Hollow corner cupboard, sold in the Villanova, Penn., dealers’ booth opening night.
Wheatcroft himself had barely taken the blankets off of a green Mahantango chest decorated with two pairs of angels — a rare and desirable attribute — before the chest sold to a collector for an undisclosed price. Consecutively owned by Titus Geesey and Colonel Edgar and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch, the chest, a former Christie’s cover lot, was auctioned in 1997 for $211,500.
Olde Hope Antiques of New Hope, Penn., offered the other Mahantango four-drawer chest on the floor. Also green, with pairs of birds flanking flowers on each drawer, the chest, attributed to Johannes Mayer (1794-1883) and dated 1830, was $250,000. The chest was one of 14 pieces offered by Olde Hope from the collection of Florence and George Dittmar, Jr, of New Jersey. Sales from the group included a carousel prancing horse by Dentzel Company of Philadelphia, 1900, in early park finish, $48,000.
Marietta, Penn., dealer Harry Hartman sold an architectural Pennsylvania decorated dower chest. Lightly cleaned, with original feet, it was $125,000. Elliott and Grace Snyder parted with a yellow and red stenciled and grained double-step back New England Sheraton dressing table with Sandwich pulls. It sold opening night, along with a Rhode Island Anne dish-top candlestand, circa 1780, in the South Egremont, Mass., dealers’ display.
A robustly decorated Berks County, Penn., architectural corner cupboard was $38,5000 at Greg Kramer/John Newcomer. The Robesonia, Penn., Penn., dealers paired it with the $350,000 Coates Family Philadelphia highboy, circa 1765-1772, ornamented by the renowned Garvan Carver.
Courcier & Wilkins built their booth around a Berks County, Penn., Dutch cupboard, $36,000, of circa 1830. The New York and Massachusetts dealers sold their Rhode Island Balch School needlework on day one.
“Every flower is identifiable — delphinium, hyacinths, roses and carnations,” Boston dealer Stephen Score said of a charming circa 1820-30 New England portrait of child in bright red shoes with a vase of flowers that he bought on the floor from Colchester, Conn., dealer Arthur Liverant and immediately resold.
An icon of Pennsylvania painting, a “Peaceable Kingdom,” circa 1822-26, by Edward Hicks, held its own at The Schwarz Gallery. The $1.5 million oil on canvas descended in the Hicks family and was exhibited at Colonial Williamsburg in 1999.
Folk painting also ruled at Hirschl & Adler Galleries, where offerings included a pair of Ralph Earl portraits, dated 1790, of Thomas Tucker and his wife, and a ship’s portrait by Captain Charles P. Noyes of the whaleship S.H. Waterman of Stonington, Conn., 1851.
Dating to 1730, a dramatically primitive oil on canvas portrait of a young woman attributed to the Pollard Limner of Boston was $48,000 at Samuel Herrup Antiques. The Massachusetts dealer also featured a Chinese export reverse painting on glass, “The Kidnapping of the Sons of Tippo.” The intriguing bit of Anglo-Raj social commentary, $32,000, was shown with a Boston shell carved, drop front desk, $65,000, circa 1770.
Other notable folk paintings included Erastus Salisbury Field’s circa 1830 portrait of Enos Adams of Heath, Mass., at Peter and Jeffrey Tillou; and a pair of portraits of Mr and Mrs David B. Lewis, 1841, of Scottsville, N.Y, attributed to Noah North, $42,500, at Gemini Antiques.
On the academic side, no Philadelphia show would be complete without some very good Peales. At Hyland Granby Antiques, Charles Wilson Peale’s signed and dated 1787 portrait of James Josiah, captain of the St Croix Packet, was $495,000. Debra Force Fine Art exhibited Raphaelle Peale’s “Odalisque” of circa 1845, price on request.
Philadelphia is a place for unveiling important discoveries, such as the portrait of a young girl and her framed needlework that Arthur Liverant recently uncovered in Hampton, Conn., and sold on opening night. Based on both inscriptions and stylistic evidence, the girl has been identified as Rebecca Warren and the painter as John Brewster, Jr, who was born in Hampton. Inscribed “Fair Musicians” on its reverse-painted glass mat, the silk embroidery appears to have been worked at Mrs Royce’s School in Hartford, circa 1810.
Native American art dealer Marcy Burns found buyers for a Navajo pictorial weaving inscribed “Hogback Trading” of 1930 and many of her Nez Perces cornhusk bag, including a particularly appealing bag decorated with a strawberry and vine motif. Visitors were dazzled by Burns’ Germantown Moki in the Hubbell Revival style, $20,000.
“Only four of this size are known,” Gemini’s Leon Weiss said of the omnibus toy manufactured by the Philadelphia firm Francis, Field & Francis, circa 1845, $75,000, that he and his twin brother sold.
Early furniture ranged from a carved oak panel two-drawer “sunflower” chest attributed to Peter Blin of Wethersfield, Conn., $325,000 at Nathan Liverant and Son, to the $265,000 draw-bar table from the Etting-Beekman shop, Kingston, N.Y., at Leigh Keno American Antiques. Metropolitan Museum of Art curator Peter Kenny wrote about this rare group of tables in the 1994 edition of American Furniturepublished by Chipstone Foundation. Keno topped a New Jersey step back cupboard with an architectural cornice with a huge, covered burl that he bought from Ohio dealer David Good just after Philadelphia’s Navy Pier show opened on Friday. Keno first saw the bowl more than 30 years ago in the “burl room” of an upstate New York dealer.
Two Lancaster County, Penn., schranks, both massive, were for sale in the booths of Mark & Marjorie Allen and Michael Flanigan. The Allens’ example, $39,000, featured pronounced crown moldings and arched panel doors. Flanigan’s schrank, with fluted pilasters and rectangular panel doors, was $125,000.
Newburyport, Mass., dealer Peter Eaton did things by twos, offering a pair of Queen Anne walnut side chairs from coastal Massachusetts, $33,000; and a pair of card tables attributed to Langley Boardman of Portsmouth, N.H., with bowed and canted-corner tops, stringing, inlays and tapered legs, $36,000. Matching looking glasses and compotes complemented the look
Ambler, Penn., dealer F.J. Carey III sold a walnut desk from Chester County, Penn. Bryn Mawr, Penn., dealer Diana Bittel’s sales included a figured maple Chippendale chest-on-chest from North Shore, Mass., or southeastern New Hampshire, $32,000.
Highlights of C.L. Prickett Antiques’ exhibit included a Goddard-Townsend, Newport, R.I., Queen Anne slipper foot tea table, circa 1740-60, $110,000. West Chester, Penn., dealer Skip Chalfant had the best of many Windsor chairs on the floor, a painted comb back writing armchair with a lift lid. Made for Dr Enoch Hazard of Newport, R.I., it was $55,000.
“Somebody actually saw the Philadelphia chest of this kind but reinterpreted the form for a vastly more localized market,” Baltimore, Md., dealer Michael Flanigan said of a fascinating four-drawer chest in his booth. Of Kentucky or Tennessee origin, the chest has Philadelphia-style “mum-my” supports of the kind made famous by Quervelle.
Other Southern furniture of note included, at Sumpter Priddy III, a Richmond, Va., inlaid cherry sideboard of 1800-1810, $135,000; and an Eighteenth Century Virginia corner cupboard of walnut and pine with a complex, baroque arched top, shaped shelves and glazed double doors, $78,000.
“It’s nearly identical to a New York sideboard attributed to Duncan Phyfe that I’ve admired for years at the Metropolitan Museum of Art,” said New York City dealer Carswell Rush Berlin of the $125,000 case piece and matching sarcophagus cellaret in his stand. A pair of elegant Philadelphia recamier couches in the Grecian plain style, possibly by Cook & Parkin, were $36,000. A pair of Philadelphia games tables with dolphin-carved supports, possibly by Quervelle, were $58,000.
Other notable Classical pieces included a circa 1837 library bookcase, possibly from the H&A Jenkins shop of Baltimore, $45,000, at Harriet and Jim Pratt’s Estate Antiques, Charleston, S.C. Gail Serfaty, director of the Diplomatic Reception Rooms at the US Department of State, admired two Philadelphia klismos side chairs with dolphin-carved front legs from a set of 24 first owned by President James Monroe. Michael Flanigan, who bought six from the group, offered two for $40,000.
John Alexander Ltd, the show’s only specialist in proto-modern decor, arrayed furniture designed by George Jack for Morris & Co., circa 1890. The show-stopper was a circa 1890 display cabinet, configured as a breakfront and desk. The lavishly carved piece with silver-plated brass hardware was $85,000. An armchair and settee by the designer were $8,500 and $14,500.
“Collectors had probably a half-dozen great painted clocks to choose from,” said Woodbridge, Conn., dealer Allan Katz, who had sold his, a circa 1815 Riley Whiting of Winchester, Conn., tall case with a flamboyantly painted case. Another Whiting clock just across the aisle in Washington, D.C., dealer Guy Bush’s booth also sold.
Formal tall-case clocks included a John Wood, Sr, of Philadelphia timepiece, circa 1730-40. Dover, Del., dealer James Kilvington sold it on opening day. Another Philadelphia tall clock, a walnut example by Anthony Ward, circa 1720, with eight-day works, a tiered, architectural bonnet, and profuse, shallow carved detail, was widely admired at Philip H. Bradley, Downingtown, Penn.
“As always, this has been an extraordinary show,” said Amy Finkel, who sold her most engaging pictorial samplers first. Of special interest was one by Catharine Boas of Reading, Penn., depicting a girl at her easel with a palette and a brush painting what is probably a portrait of George Washington. The sampler was worked at Mrs Meguire’s School in Harrisburg, Penn., in 1812.
Silk on silk embroideries were the ticket at Stephen and Carol Huber of Old Saybrook, Conn., where a new England piece, “Hector and Andromache,” was $17,500, and a Balch School, Providence, R.I., memorial to Joseph Bradford and Enoch Butts, circa 1800, was $19,000.
Knockout quilts included a circa 1850 Lancaster, Penn., album quilt, $48,000 at Stella Rubin, Potomac, Md.; and a Baltimore Star quilt by Lucy Shepherd Loomis, of Wetheredsville, Md., at Stephen Score, Boston (price on request).
The three rarest textiles on the floor may have been a New England bed rug, inscribed and dated 1775, $19,000 at Olde Hope Antiques; Elliott and Grace Snyder’s embroidered Connecticut bedcover, circa 1800-20, $27,000; and Peter Pap’s Seventeenth Century Anatolian prayer rug made for the Transylvanian market, $95,000.
Folk ceramics included three Nineteenth Century face vessels, two slave made, from Edgefield, S.C., at The Stradlings. Chinese export porcelain dealer Elinor Gordon offered a five-piece famille rose mantel garniture, circa 1780, $25,000. Other outstanding famille rose wares included two plates for the Anglo Indian market and a tureen, cover and stand of the “Western Flowers” type at Philip Suval, Inc.
“It’s mate just sold at Sotheby’s,” said Allan Chait, one of two Asian art dealers on the floor, referring to the pair of Tang dynasty horses, one strawberry colored, the other black, that recently sold for $1.576 million. Strawberry-colored and remarkably like the one at Sotheby’s, Chait’s Tang horse, ex-collection of Mona, Countess of Bismark, was $580,000. At E&J Frankel, an early Tang dynasty gray pottery Bactrian camel with a Chinese rider and a Fourteenth Century Chinese carved wood Bodhisattva were each $75,000.
“Patterns of Pride: Historical Blue Staffordshire,” the 2003 loan show, featured historical blue Staffordshire from the collections of Dr Luther Brady and Dr Robert Campbell, curators of the exhibition. The show emphasized rare Pennsylvania views, such as Philadelphia’s Pennsylvania Hospital, Fairmont Waterworks and the Schuylkill River. Organized by collectors Bob and Kathy Booth, next year’s loan show, “Folk Art on Fire,” will look at Philadelphia and its firefighting societies.
The 2004 Philadelphia Antiques Show is planned for Friday, April 16, through Wednesday, April 21.
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