Story and photos by Carol Sims
NEW YORK CITY This year’s show took place on March 15-16, and represented a paring down of dealers from the usual two weekends in March. Seniority played a big part in the selection of the dealers, and some fought “tooth and nail to the end to get in,” said show manager Leanne Stella.
Having only one show in March meant that more dealers were set up on each pier with smaller booths. It also meant a stronger attendance and healthier buying. According to Leanne Stella, the gate was up a couple of thousand people over any single March weekend for the last two years. Stella Show Mgmt. selected the best weekend for the show, careful to avoid the not uncommon warm weather at the end of the month. In 2004, the show schedule will include back-to-back weekends in January or March, but not both. With the two weekends in November, there will be five show weekends on the piers next year.
Pier 88 was the last to open on Saturday and the last to close on Sunday. With its focus on the Twentieth Century, this pier was full of fashion and furnishings from our not too distant past. The retro-minded could be outfitted from head to toe in distinctive clothing, and nostalgia motivated many a purchase.
Peter and Penny Jones, of Penny Toys, Leola, Penn., had a bright and colorful booth full of kitchen goodies, toys and tabletop rdf_Descriptions. Flatware with Bakelite handles was getting a lot of attention. Penny said, “The show was quite surprising for us…The customers were out and they were buying…We were very pleased with our sales…I think it was a testament to New Yorkers’ and all Americans’ strength and belief in our country and our economy that they were out shopping for ‘luxury’ rdf_Descriptions in these uncertain times…It was uplifting.”
As a longtime collector and dealer of black Americana, Rose Fontanella of Brooklyn, N.Y., has noticed that many of the newer collectors are “black Americans looking for historical rdf_Descriptions. Now when I do a show, I bring just a few kitchen and ceramic rdf_Descriptions, some dolls and other ‘collectibles.’ I’ve found what sells mostly for me are the rare books. I sold a first edition Zora Hurston and a much sought-after volume on slavery to a well-known newspaper writer.” She also sold slave documents, early photographs and other interesting paper rdf_Descriptions. In addition she sold eight folk or outsider art paintings to collectors and dealers.
Compared to other shows, there seemed to be less furniture at Pier 88 this March. Michael Glatfelter of Mode Moderne, Philadelphia, explained, “It is difficult to put a booth together with $30,000 in furniture, whereas bringing $70,000 worth of smalls is a lot easier.” He was one of the brave few who had a booth loaded with furniture on Pier 88. He brought a set of six sleek Danish chairs designed by Hans Wegner among other things.
Danielle Sacripante at Tom Gibbs Studio, Coplay, Penn., said, “The show was well attended, but sales were a little off from years past. Given the cautious nature of everyone due to the uncertain climate of global issues, stock market, etc, we did fine and were happy with the outcome. We did sell large rdf_Descriptions, which is always a plus, specifically a wonderful Red Lion Company burled wood Art Deco bedroom set.”
Harry Greenberger of H.G Limited, Riverdale, N.Y., puts effort into assembling antiques and collectibles that have aesthetic appeal when displayed together. His March booth had an outdoor theme, inspired by the approach of spring. He said, “The dog muzzles got lots of attention, as did the lawn sprinklers, mowers and hedge trimmers.”
Opening first at 9 am, Pier 90 attracted antiques collectors accustomed to early morning excursions to antiques shows. It was an eclectic mix of Americana, country collectibles, quilts and linens, garden antiques and fine art. Pier 90 had plenty of furniture, loads of trade signs and had the most “antiquey” feel to it.
Carole Smyth Antiques, Huntington, N.Y., brought unusual doorstops and bookends; soon-to-be-retired Nancy and Lenny Kislin, Bearsville, N.Y., showed what Lenny referred to as an old “nebulizer,” an odd piece of medical equip-ment with valves and pipes going every which way; Antique Articles of Billerica, Mass., had enough art tiles to pique the interest of any collector; Kathy Brown of Old Bethpage, N.Y., said, “people live in my booth” because of all the fascinating smalls she offered; John Sholl, Norwood, N.Y., featured tramp art and a framed wound up 426-foot-long gum wrapper chain; John Gould, Yorktown Heights, N.Y., displayed period frames, mirrors and paintings; and David Surgan of Brooklyn brought Heintz ware.
Roseanna Mihalick, St James, N.Y., sells vintage linen and country antiques and had a nice display of ironstone. “The show was well attended, as always, although sales were flat. I think the state of the nation is holding people back from buying. However, I did sell a beautiful handmade lace Italian cloth and 12 matching monogrammed napkins to the well-known decorator/designer John Saladino. Also, I sold three great pieces of Nineteenth Century English ironstone – a huge platter, tall pitcher and covered compote -to decorator Paul Summerville for a kitchen he just did for a client,” commented Mihalick.
According to owners Kass Hogan and Jeff Cherry, Cherry Gallery ended up “doing pretty well at the March Triple Pier Show. Our sales were spread out through Saturday – there wasn’t the first-hour rush to buy that we’ve experienced in the past. Sunday was typically slower, but we made one good sale that day.” Their booth displayed “Adirondack rustic” furniture and decorative rdf_Descriptions. They brought circa 1940 pieces from the Old Hickory Furniture Co., Martinsville, Ind. Significant sales included an unusual table from the South that had a base made from a huge twisted wisteria vine and top with Eastern red cedar. They also sold a rare convertible Westport chair in old blue-green paint. “Usually we sell a number of rdf_Descriptions under $500 at the Pier Show, but this time more expensive rdf_Descriptions sold better than smalls for us,” said Cherry.
Jewelry shoppers could easily have spent the whole weekend on Pier 92. There were hundreds of cases to jewelry to tempt one. Decorative rdf_Descriptions were amassed there, too. Silver, porcelain, fine art and art glass all had a place.
Jim and Susan Harran of A Moment in Time, Neptune, N.J., wrote Dresden Porcelain Studios, published by Collector Books. They sold five Dresden portrait plates, a set of 12 Dresden dinner plates and a magnificent Dresden urn. “As usual we did a good cup and saucer business,” added Susan.
William Drucker of William Drucker Antiques, Mt. Kisco, N.Y., said, “The Triple Pier Show had a good attendance considering all that is happening in the world. We saw many familiar faces at the show and business was good. Among the rdf_Descriptions sold was an important set of Georg Jensen flatware by Henning Koppel and a vintage necklace circa 1908.”
Adele and Alan Grodsky, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., brought period lighting fixtures from the early 1900s with prices between $1,500 and $40,000. According to Adele, Handel, manufactured in Meriden, Conn., took its cue from Arts and Crafts, while the Art Nouveau style influenced Pairpoint’s puffy shades. Pairpoint was based in New Bedford, Mass. “These lamps were a truly American art form,” said Adele. She sold four lamps including a beautiful Handel reverse painted lamp with the sunset scene and palm trees, a pair of Pairpoint puffy rose miniature lamps, Tiffany art glass and some Rookwood pottery.
March Triple Pier offered a fascinating mix of merchandise and even in an “off” year pulled its weight by getting shoppers and dealers together for a little friendly commerce. The surge in attendance this March supports Benjamin Franklin’s observation, “The use of money is all the advantage there is in having it.”