Published: October 26, 2004
Columbus Day weekend means different things to many folks living in the northeastern United States, but for Rhinebeck Antiques Fair manager Bruce Garrett and staff, it means just one thing – it’s showtime. The show celebrated its 28th year on October 9 and 10 at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds by assembling 200 dealers from 20 states and Canada in four of the fairgrounds’ exhibition buildings.
The well-oiled show logistics – created by the late Bill Walter, enhanced by the late Jimi Barton and now in the firm, capable hands of Garrett – ensured that both Saturday’s and Sunday’s crowds would find that everything from parking to food and, of course, to delivery of their antique furniture and larger rdf_Descriptions, had been thought about well in advance so they could stroll the wide aisles and enjoy a seamless shopping experience. The Rhinebeck formula that has been honed over the years, and it makes the experience consistent from show to show.
As usual, some of the nation’s premier dealers were on hand to offer antique furniture – everything from formal European and American to country classics – decorative accessories, garden iron and cement statuary, vintage textiles and jewelry, paintings, prints and vintage posters, and more.
Contacted after the show, Garrett said that while numbers were down a bit both Saturday and Sunday – perhaps 500 fewer people overall than last year – “given the economic conditions, I was pleased with the gate.” Garrett always does some after-show polling of exhibitors to gauge their results, and, just as in political polling, he cautioned, the outcome can be skewed by a lot of factors, one major one being that not everyone will respond to the survey. “While 15 percent said they had an excellent show, most reported having a fair to good show, and only ten percent said they had a poor show,” said Garrett.
Most important, Garrett continued, “We continually get the people there. The overriding comment we heard from most dealers was that while people seem anxious to buy, they are less anxious to put their hands in their pockets for the wallet.”
Despite the slightly down gate, Jan and John Maggs Antiques, Conway, Mass., who specialize in American and English furnishings, said they enjoyed very strong sales on Saturday and during preshow.
“Our two most important sales at Rhinebeck were a large circa 1800 Pennsylvania corner cupboard and a nearly life-sized portrait of a young woman by Miles Williams Mathis,” said John Maggs. “When we arrived home on Sunday night, we had a phone message that led to the sale of a large landscape painting by Dennis Sheehan. Rhinebeck continues to be just about the most enjoyable show in the business.”
“I had an excellent show and sold across the board, from furniture to folk art, to smalls,” reported Victor Weinblatt, South Hadley, Mass., whose country antiques and folk art are always displayed in graphically pleasing tableaux. “The first hour Saturday morning was unusually quiet. The usual dealer rush seemed to be missing. What more than made up for that absence was a very strong and consistent retail presence for the entire remainder of the day. The gate was very healthy all day Saturday, and there was a very informed and sophisticated audience. I saw many of my Nantucket and Connecticut customers who had made the show their destination for the day.”
Among Weinblatt’s sales was an early country gateleg in apple green, a set of four Windsors in robin’s-egg blue, a two-tier grain painted server, a candlestand in apple green, several rare pieces from a large mercury glass collection, three game boards, nine signs, a couple of painted mirrors, a 12-piece set of nesting heart baking pans and several carvings.
“Not only were retail sales strong and confident, but, very encouragingly, it was a youthful retail market, affluent buyers in their 30s and 40s,” said Weinblatt. “Dealer buying still seems somewhat skittish and is lagging behind the strong retail recovery.”
Weinblatt praised Garrett for making “transition in the shows seamless and exemplary. He is a natural born manager, fair-minded, affable, eminently reasonable, caring and laid back. Jimi Barton had the foresight to perfectly groom Bruce for the job. We all know how much that succession meant to Jimi, and, as dealers, we all continue to prosper under the management of their combined wisdom. The ‘Rhinebeck family’ is more than a catchy phrase or an adman’s branding: it is a community graced by comraderie and good-will that makes us look forward to Columbus and Memorial Day weekends each year.”
Also among Garrett’s elite 15 percent for this show were Sanford Levy and Charles Glasner – collectively, Jenkinstown Antiques, New Paltz, N.Y., who recently opened a new shop in Helltown at 13 Old Route 299.
“I guess we were lucky,” Levy concluded. “We thought the crowd seemed a little thin on Saturday, but the people that came were really interested in buying. We even made some important sales on Sunday to knowledgeable people who had broad interests.”
Representing original Sixteenth through Nineteenth Century natural history and botanical prints, Judi Bodnar of The Botanical Bog, Rensselaer, N.Y., arrived too late on Friday and so missed out on any preshow buying, but she reported having had a pleasant show with good volume – especially with Eighteenth Century natural history prints. “We additionally sold a group of four framed 1646 Merian botanicals, a framed Zanoni – Seventeenth Century Italian – botanical, several Warner Orchid chromolithographs, and early Curtis botanical prints. Our customers were a mixed group of new and old. Pack in and out was a snap, and the security excellent and much appreciated.”
Judi Bodnar recalled that during her and her husband Tom’s first experience at Rhinebeck – anxiety-filled due to their son’s medical adventure in Belize – the show office staff had been busy fielding distress messages. “Perhaps they would like to hear that he made it back alive and started medical school this fall,” she said.
Another print dealer, M.A.H. Antiques of North Edgecomb, Maine, seemed to be in the Christmas spirit – or anticipating that shoppers would be. Christmas prints included engravings by Thomas Nast (1840-1902), who first pictured Santa as we do today. Examples included “Another Stocking to Fill,” a wood engraving from 1880; “Christmas Post,” from 1879, depicting a boy putting his letter to Santa in a post box with a store in the background; and from 1886, a print of a little girl standing in lace underwear by the fireplace, her stockings and pajamas having been hung for Santa, perfectly embodied Victorian sentimentality and was titled “Santa Claus Can’ Say That I’ve Forgotten Anything.”
M.A.H. brought a diverse selection of prints, ranging from Winslow Homer engravings to the usual popular categories of military, maps, botanicals, butterflies, nature, children’s prints and prints of New York City. And, as always, because proprietor Lea Wait is also an award-winning author, plenty of copies of her mystery novels starring Maggie Summer, an antique print dealer who solves crimes based on clues in
When not running North Star Auction Galleries, Inc in Wallkill, N.Y., Dennis and Valerie Bakoledis of Rhinebeck enjoy the antiques fair crowds at Rhinebeck. Dennis Bakoledis observed a steady if not record-breaking crowd on Saturday. “Sunday always presents a challenge and this time was no different,” he said. “My show was good selling a lot of smalls under the $1,000 mark. They included a Connecticut redware jar, $650; a Pennsylvania coverlet, $375; a spongeware pitcher, $350; a large rococo carved and gilt mirror at $750; and a cherry one-drawer server at $950.”
Plenty of early American antiques and folk art could be found at the booth of Ellen Katona and Bob Lutz, Greenwich, N.J., who themselves are show promoters. For example, a three-door cupboard with original gray painted surface from Maine, circa 1820, shared space with a 1920s desk made by Geo. C. Flint Co., New York City, and a circa 1800-1820 Delaware or Eastern Shore, Md., walnut drop leaf table with unusual curved and played legs.
“We had a good show,” said Lutz, reporting total sales of 21 rdf_Descriptions. “Sunday was a little slow, but still was not bad. Did sell our painted cupboard late on Saturday. Nice sale. Sales seem to come in spurts. Overall, we were very pleased, and think Bruce Garrett is doing a fine job.”
George Harding, Wynnwood, Penn., is also a great source for early American furniture and decorative accessories. Among the rdf_Descriptions for this show, he brought a late Nineteenth spice chest with cigar box drawers, a grain painted York, Penn., blanket chest in pine, circa 1850-60 and a solid maple, mid-Nineteenth Century bed from the Finger Lakes region of New York.
For a completely different aesthetic – Nineteenth Century country English and Continental furniture and accessories – shoppers could find a mind boggling array at the booth of Bob Baker’s Poverty Hollow Antiques, Redding Ridge, Conn. Baker exemplifies the move by show manager Garrett to retain Rhinebeck’s stature as the premier venue for American country antiques while at the same time adding “new blood” and a new look to the show – other examples are Vol. 1 Antiques, Sharon, Conn., which mixes early Nineteenth and mid-Twentieth Century rdf_Descriptions from Europe and America, and Sport & Spool Antiques, Goldsboro, N.C., which showcases sports memorabilia from the turn of the century along with country store rdf_Descriptions and furniture.
An energized Baker had just received a fresh shipment in from England for this show – everything from a delicate McIntyre salad set, circa 1880, to a massive and unusual pine kneehole server, circa 1900, that could be used as both as that and as a desk. A three-drawer pine server featured decorative tiles in a floral motif on the backsplash, and the booth also displayed a pair of floral still lifes, one that was dated 1889 and another probably done in the 1920s.
Two of Rhinebeck’s most fervent dealers – Doug and Bev Norwood’s Spirit of America, Timonium, Md., are a great source for early Americana, and for this show they brought a nice country collection with lots of smalls. In their booth was an oil on canvas of “Fisher’s Inn – Portland to Augusta,” signed “Isaac W.F. Eaton, N.Y. 1804”; a full-bodied copper horse weathervane with zinc head and a well patinated surface, 28 inches long, and a couple of samplers wrought by Delia Clark White of Hudson, N.Y., with family history and provenance. A domed top chest, circa 1860, in early red paint, mustard banding and original wallpaper interior was offered, and just for fun, there was a wallet and purse that had been fashioned from Camel and Kool cigarette packs, respectively, from a Maine collection.
“This year, we had strong sales to returning as well as new customers. Among other rdf_Descriptions, we sold: three lovely samplers – one from Connecticut and two from Massachusetts – two well rendered theorems on velvet, a beautifully patinated weathervane, two whimsical folk art paintings, two chests in original paint and a number of smalls.”
The Norwoods related a personal story illustrating Garrett’s role as “the glue that makes everything work so well at Rhinebeck.” Said Bev Norwood, “Our van broke down at the show due to a faulty fuel pump. Being more than 300 miles from home is no picnic when there is a problem, especially on pack-out day. Despite the fact that he had hundreds of other rdf_Descriptions on his mind, Bruce spent time ensuring that members of his fine staff were there to support us and that we would be able to get reliable repair assistance. Now, when you want to talk about a show manager who goes out of the way for his dealers and customers, Bruce is a superstar. Our fellow dealers also offered immense support. We want to thank everyone for pitching in to help us, with special appreciation to Robert Simpson.”
Her third Rhinebeck show, Joan Bogart, Rockville Centre, N.Y., admitted that the fall edition did not have the thunder of the May show, “which, of course, was disappointing. I would assume the upcoming election could be the culprit here. It was amusing that I had to drive to upstate New York from Long Island to renew acquaintance with one Long Island decorator and make the acquaintance of another. If working with these people follows through, it will be a great show. I did sell one of my many garden animals, a terra-cotta dog, as he was ferocious looking, which the client loved.”
And if summer gardens seemed to be a quickly fading memory, shoppers could assuage the pang with a stop at the booth of Linda and Howard Stein, Solebury, Penn., who displayed a mortised and pegged Vermont garden bench, circa 1900-10. The Steins also showcased French white upholstered chairs from the 1920s, an unusual polished steel dressing table and – possibly to ward off coming chill – one’s very own Model A automobile door to hang on the wall advertising “L. Mumford Coal.”
Would-be gamblers may have been pulled into Wenham Cross Antiques, Topsfield, Mass., by a big game wheel that was decorated with swans in red, white and green paint. The graphically interesting piece was accompanied by an old two-drawer, four-board table, circa 1840, old green over blue paint, with turned legs on casters. The Lamperts – Emily and Irma – were also showing a chimney cupboard in green paint, an early hooked rug that had been personalized “Benjamin,” and Rockingham dishes, stoneware jugs and a pair of Mickey and Minnie Mouse carved wooden lamps.
A two-piece Pennsylvania corner cupboard dating from the mid-1800s still had some of its old glass in the booth of Geri and Bruce Shenk, Normandy Beach, N.J. Bruce Shenk said the cupboard’s smaller footprint – not a deep corner at 32 inches – made it ideal for a cottage or small apartment. The Shenks also showed a single-drawer cupboard of tiger and bird’s-eye maple from Pennsylvania, early to mid 1800s, that had a three-board top. Brass candlesticks, a piecrust candle stand with a pine top and cherry bottom, ogee mirrors and a cherry one-drawer Pembroke table in Hepplewhite style from the early 1800s were also on display.
Gallagher and Zager, North Norwich, N.Y., can always be counted on for gleaming brass andirons and fireplace hardware, and this show was no exception. Several fireplace fenders, andirons and tools bristled at their booth, but there were non-hearth-related rdf_Descriptions, too, such as a walnut pad foot table, circa 1750, a New York City mahogany card table and a monumentally long drop leaf harvest table in cherry from about 1820, along with a selection of canes, picture frames and sporting art.
For the period and primitive American antiques buff, at Richard Kyllo, Saddle River, N.J., there was a cherry graduated chest of drawers, circa 1800, as well as a set of six original apple green decoration chairs, circa 1840. A New England Eighteenth Century blanket box was priced at $275, an 1840 Pennsylvania dry sink was marked $875 and a nest of three primitive bowls was offered for $135.
“Come see me,” teased Mimi Gunn, Chatham, N.J., in her preshow ad. And those who did found Gunn’s predictably eclectic look and assortment, but, of course, it was completely fresh merchandise she had acquired during a busy summer. “Everything is different,” she said before the show started, pointing to a couple of examples such as original illustrator art, one by Walter Haskell Hinton, another by Charles Ryan depicting “Car Trouble” and a French color engraving of playful kittens titled “Les Petits Ravageurs,” probably done between 1890 and 1900.
Dolls and toys are the specialty of Joan and Larry Kindler, Whitewater, N.Y., and they had many examples of the former lined up on their shelves. One example was a German glass-eye papier mache that had no overpaint on her face but shoulder plates that had been reinforced. She wore her original dress. An early wax model, circa 1820s, came with its original human hair and clothes, and three crocheted and knitted black dolls from the 1920s were in great condition and priced at $65.
One of the show’s fine art exhibitors, Jaffe and Thurston, Warwarsing, N.Y., filled its booth with contemplative still life and woodlands scenes. For example, an oil on canvas by Howard Hill (died 1870), who specialized in genre scenes and sporting paintings was title “On the Hunt” and depicted a pair of dogs and a hunter on the edge of forest and meadow. George Forster’s (1817-1896) “Still Life with Peaches, Grapes and Melon,” an oil on canvas measuring 91/2 by 121/4 inches, evoked the past summer’s abundance; and an oil on canvas by Luigi Lucioni (1900-1988) titled “Lime in Velvet” measured 11 by 14 inches and came with its original Milch Gallery exhibition label.
During dealer setup on Friday, Plymouth, Mass.-based Village Braider’s Bruce Emond had already sold a sweet little spruce Italian step back cupboard to a neighboring exhibitor, but there was plenty left in the booth, including a monumental pair of baking racks with marble shelves from Keene, N.H., and the display’s centerpiece – a large nearly square (61/2 by 71/2 feet) hooked rug signed by Pearl McGown that Emond estimated had been made in about 1955. It was joined from two sections and featured an empire or classical motif titled “Fountain of Youth.” A Nineteenth Century American dressing table with what Emond characterized as a “real surface” and an iconic 1920s original Howard Johnson’s restaurant weathervane were also on display.
The Rhinebeck show will return Memorial Day weekend in 2005. For information, 845-876-1989 or www.Rhinebeck AntiquesFair.com.
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