Published: August 27, 2002
The Birchwood Manor Antiques Show:
By J.M.W. Fletcher
WHIPPANY, N.J. All rdf_Descriptions were guaranteed to be as represented.
Special features for the visiting patrons were available such as appraisals by Bemards Assoc. Restorations of porcelain, china and pottery were provided by Louis. Goldfinger was on hand for jewelry repairs along with Sylvio Bettio, an expert in glass repair (repaired while visitors walked the show).
The 100-plus prestigious dealers of antiques arrived from as far west as California. They also came from Canada, Florida and New York City; 16 states in all were represented. By noon on Friday one had to park in the very rear of the large parking lot. The day was sunny and the temperature in the 90s, but the manor was delightfully cool.
For collectors of rare books and scientific instruments one had but to climb the circular staircase to the landing to meet John Tyler (an exhibitor for the past 11 years) of Colophon Books. Tyler always offers precision instruments never seen before. This year he brought a precision Tangent Galvanometer for measuring the earth’s magnetic field. Tyler said, “This particular one is a demonstration piece. This came out of a physics laboratory – mid-1930s.
Around the corner from Colophone Books, against the balcony, one could find hundreds of auction catalogs from recent (and earlier) sales, by all the major galleries, offered by Caroline Keith of Peter Piper Publications. These catalogs are a great source for an antiques research project. Continuing on into the next large room, on the right, was Dolls of Liz where the major doll collectors congregated.
Don and Nancy Cush, Annandale, N.J., featured an oil on canvas by George Benson. They brought a variety of artwork plus small tables. Don Cush commented, “We pretty much left home the really big pieces because we have found that the really big pieces were not selling.”
First-time exhibitor John Kelley Antiques, Milford, Mich., brought Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Russian icons, both in silver and brass. Also shown was a Thailand Buddha and an interesting Chinese tomb attendant. “He’s there to protect the tomb,” Kelley said.
Gary Baldwin of A Touch of Glass specializes in Moser and fine quality artistic glass. Baldwin has published two books on his favorite subject, Moser glass. Baldwin has done this show for more than six years.
Second-time exhibitor Carol Marks, of Tenafly, N.J., specializes in Nineteenth Century decorative art rdf_Descriptions and period jewelry, with the jewelry attracting a great deal of attention.
Marvin Baer of The Ivory Tower Antiques, a 22-year veteran of the show, specializes in fine Oriental and European porcelain antiques with an emphasis on Imari and Satsuma.
In a Saturday morning interview, Jesse Kohler discussed the history behind the banner in the Antiques and The Arts Weekly ads that read “Our 90th Show!!!” When asked where the first show was held, Kohler replied, “Number one was at the Meadowbrook Dinner Theatre at Cedar Grove, New Jersey. I would say it was in the 1940s.
“It was started by a lady by the name of Dorothy Butkus. She ran the shows for several years. It was a very successful show. It was at that time considered the best show in New Jersey. Mrs Butkus died, probably around the 60s.
“At that point, I was asked to help a local charity by running an antiques show. I ran a show at the local county college. Someone had seen the show and was impressed and asked us if we would be able to take over the almost defunct theatre show.
“I hadn’t even heard of the place or even heard of the show. I called [the show management] and told them I had been recommended to run the show and they said, ‘Well, maybe Mr Butkus will want to run the show.’ A month later they called me back and said that ‘Mr Butkus was incapable of running the show. And, so we will give you a trial.'”
Kohler continued, “The site of the theatre could hold about a thousand people. All we could put in there were 55 exhibitors. It was built on a very steep hill. It was very difficult to set-up and take-down. But the show was gangbusters. We had two shows a year at the building. The show ended when the building was torn down.
“Later, one of the principles that managed the place [theatre] ended up here at the Birchwood Manor. He called us [in 1978 or 79] and asked what we were doing with the Meadowbrook show. I said, ‘Well, what can I do with it?’ He said, ‘You can bring it here [to the Birchwood Manor] where I am working now.’ I was impressed. So we ran the show. We went from 55 dealers to 75.
“The show grew and prospered here. We have now some 211 booths right now. That boils down to, as some dealers take two spaces, to about 140 individual exhibitors. The show has a great reputation and it attracts the best dealers.”
When asked “What happens after the 90th show?” Kohler replied, “We go on to the 91st.”
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Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm