Published: October 16, 2001
The Small Event with a Popular Following:
By R. Scudder Smith
WASHINGTON DEPOT, CONN. – For those living in Litchfield County and blessed with any kind of a social bone in their body, the place to be on Friday, October 5, was at Bryan Memorial Town Hall, the site of the fifteenth annual Washington Connecticut Antiques Show. On this preview night, the bar was busy, raw vegetable and cheese platters were well picked over, and trays of tasty hors d’oeuvres were demolished as they came from the “kitchen” area.
Within one hour of the 6:30 pm opening of the preview, there was no elbow room in the lobby of town hall where the refreshments were on display. Slowly, as taste buds were satisfied, benefactors and patrons of the show made their way into the exhibition space where the dealers hoped there would be a parallel situation. Post show reports, however, indicate that business was light at the preview.
Robert Armacost of Armacost Antiques Shows, Ltd, has a difficult job with this show due to its small size. The building will accommodate only 22 exhibitors, and at that the booths are not very large. Thus it is important to get the right mix of dealers, ones with diverse interests in order to please those who come both to look and to buy. Bob Armacost picked well, providing the show-goer with a choice of English and American furniture, a nice selection of paintings and prints, a generous serving of porcelain and pottery, Oriental rugs, and a sprinkling of Shaker, garden fixtures, brass objects and lighting.
American Decorative Arts of Canaan, N.H., offered a child’s settee designed by Hayward Wakefield, circa 1870-1900, 24 inches long and 10 inches high, and an interesting all leather fireman’s hat that came from Dorchester, N.H., and was formerly in the estate of Henry Bonn. Several Shaker chairs and accessories were also display in this booth.
Ed Weissman of Portsmouth, N.H., had a busy weekend taking part in two shows over the weekend. He was setup at the Caramoor Show as well as at Washington where he showed an American highboy, painted maple, New Hampshire origin, circa 1760, and an American card table in mahogany, New England, circa 1800, with figured wood front panels and tapered lags. An oil on canvas ship portrait by Reginald E. Nickerson of the Monitor, with American flag flying from the stern, measured 24 by 28 inches.
French furniture, including an Empire commode in mahogany with marble top, circa 1820, and an Eighteenth Century commode in fruitwood, circa 1780, were shown by Bradley-Thompson of Sarasota, Fla. Don Abarbanel of Ashley Falls, Mass., one of the longtime exhibitors in this show, displayed a birdcage tilt-top tea table with a one-board pie crust top, pineapple baluster, ball and claw feet, circa 1770, probably of Irish origin. An American chest of drawers, cherrywood with pine and popular, had four graduated drawers, turned legs and dated circa 1810-30.
The Cooley Gallery of Old Lyme, Conn., was at the front of the show with a display of pictures that included “Autumn Winds, Litchfield County,” by William Merritt Post. This oil on canvas, painted within miles of the show location, was signed lower right and measured 25 by 30 inches. “Mid-Winter Sunlight,” an oil on canvas with snow and white birch, was by Henry Bill Selden. This picture was signed lower right, dated 1912, and measures 20 by 24 inches.
Another Connecticut dealer, Elizabeth Mankin of Kent, has been at the show for a good number of years and offers American furniture and accessories. This time out she had a chest on frame in walnut, circa 1750-70, with trifid feet and a signature on the bottom of one of the drawers that read “Du Bois” for Aime Du Bois, Baltimore, Md.” The maker of this chest used cedar shingles for the drawer bottoms. Scattered around the small booth was a set of four New England Windsor side chairs, circa 1750-1810, with bamboo turned legs.
Fred McClafferty of New Canaan, Conn., was standing in for his wife Jane who was on a buying trip to England. He noted that “it was time for a change and this year I moved our display case to a side wall, not the back wall as in the past.” This case was neatly filled with pottery and porcelain, including a large selection of Staffordshire for which this dealer is noted. On the center of the back wall an early Nineteenth Century convex mirror was hung, all in the original condition and with a rare floral pediment. The diameter of the mirror was 18 inches and the overall height 34 inches. A Connecticut tea table in cherrywood dated circa 1780, Hartford area, probably from the shop of Aaron Chapin. It measured 35 inches in diameter and 28 inches high. A wall shelf carried a display of brass rdf_Descriptions including candlesticks, snuffers, snuff boxes, shoe horns, etc.
Janet Sisler not only came a distance to take part in the show, traveling here from St Louis, but was the only exhibitor to offer cast-iron garden furniture from her booth on the second floor of town hall. One of a pair of cast-iron benches, painted black, was signed by the maker, Kramer Bros, Dayton, Ohio, and dated 1880-90. It was in the Dayton pattern. A second pair of benches came from the English firm of Laurel and Berry and dated from the Nineteenth Century. They were painted white and had pad feet.
Fletcher/Copenhaver Fine Art of Fredericksburg, Va., was another one of the Washington exhibitors who was also represented at the Caramoor Antiques Show. Hung in the center of the booth was a large work by Lue Osborne, “Tornado,” a circa 1930 oil on canvas measuring 35 by 38½ inches. Osborne was born in Belleville, Ill., and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago. Works by Augustin Hanicotte, a French artist who was the thirteenth child in a family of 17, hung on the side wall and included “Fishing Boats Below the Castle, Collioure,” a pastel and charcoal sheet measuring 14 by 10½ inches. It was initialed lower right. A charcoal, signed in pencil, was of “The Goatherd & His Flute,” 1920, 19 by 12½ inches.
Randall E. Decoteau Antiques of Warren, Mass., offered a Sheraton chest of drawers in cherrywood with figured mahogany veneers, turned legs, New York, circa 1810-30, and a classical style scroll arm sofa, figured mahogany veneer, circa 1835-40, and of New England origin.
Folk art, paint and the country look were present in the booth of Thurston Nichols American Antiques of Breinigsville, Penn. Taking up half the stage area, Thurston showed a carved mantle with a center carving of a basket with two hearts and tobacco leaves. Doric columns were on each side, showing some traces of the original paint, and the mantle was originally used in Carlisle, Penn., circa 1850. A shirred rug on burlap and linen, budding floral border and central floral design with roses and foliage, bell flowers in each corner, was of Maryland origin and was signed and dated 1865. Among the pieces of folk art was a choice carving of a bird that held down a prominent place on the center of the mantle.
Hanes and Ruskin of Old Lyme, Conn., filled a booth with American furniture and paintings including a portrait of a gentleman, oil on canvas and in pristine condition, that hung for 170 years in a Westport, Conn., home. Another portrait of a gentleman was of the Prior Hamblin School, circa 1840, oil on composition board and in period frame. This work measured 15 by 20 inches. Across the front of the booth was a Nineteenth Century harvest table from Bennington, Vt., circa 1840, measuring 5½ feet long. It had a one board top with two narrow leaves.
This show rans for two days after the opening preview and was a benefit for the Gunn Memorial Library and Museum.
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