The term “show circuit” takes on a whole new meaning during the first weekend in October with what is billed as “the greatest week for antiquing in Vermont.” In quick succession, five quality shows put more than 200 dealers and their merchandise on display. This year, the fun began in Weston on Thursday evening, September 30, and concluded with slightly fatigued faces on Sunday, October 3, in Manchester Center – and if one could find time to leaf-peep or enjoy a leisurely morning interlude at a B&B, that was just syrup on the griddlecakes.
Longest in tooth among the five shows – 46 years – the Weston event takes place in the Weston Playhouse, Vermont’s oldest professional theater establishment (it was founded in 1936 in what was once a congregational church), which is nestled between the Weston town green and a picturesque stream complete with waterfall.
Featuring 40 exhibitors, Weston packed them in on preview night with a benefit gala for the town’s historic preservation society. Lectures and booth seminars were added attractions during the weekend – for example, Barbara Trask Melhado, senior member of the American Society of Appraisers (ASA), from nearby Dorset, Vt., talked on Friday about how the appraisers on PBS’s Antiques Roadshow come up with their valuations.
Show chair Patti Prairie reported that both attendance and dealers sales were very strong, with 25 percent more people attending the gala preview despite a doubling of cost for a ticket. “Friday and Saturday were both ahead of last year, with Saturday especially strong,” she said. “There were a lot more younger people than what I’ve seen before.”
“Weston never disappoints,” said David Allan Ramsay, Cape Porpoise, Maine. “We sold from setup through pack-out, both to clients we’ve known for years as well as to trade and retail customers we met for the first time.”
Ramsay credits the show’s hard-working volunteers for making the event as enjoyable as can be for both exhibitors and shoppers. “Patti Prairie, the show’s new chair, invigorated this traditional show with a new floor plan, a great mix of familiar exhibitors and new additions, and her tireless efforts to attract new customers paid off – we sold to many Vermonters who were taking in their first Weston show, as well as to others from as far away as California, Maryland and Ohio.”
Among Ramsay’s sales were a Bavarian barber’s drop front desk in polychrome, which found a new home in Vermont, and a sophisticated two-drawer worktable in vigorous flame birch and bird’s-eye maple that returned to Maine with its new owner. Other sales included a still life on canvas, a fan window, a weathervane, a gear mold convex mirror and a number of smalls.
“Weston has reinvented itself, and we couldn’t be happier to have been asked to take part in one of New England’s premier antiques shows,” said Ramsay.
Show chair Prairie met Tim Brennan and Dave Mouilleseaux at the Hunt Valley show in Timonium, Md., this past February, liked their look and relentlessly pursued the Norfolk, Conn., antiques dealers over the next two days. “We finally signed a contract on the spot, based solely on her amazing enthusiasm and her very obvious capability,” recalled Brennan.
Brennan and Mouilleseaux sold a stone carving and a bronze half-armillary sphere at the preview, as well as a diamond-shaped Nineteenth Century continental gilt mirror.
Another first-year exhibitor, Wayne Adams, American Decorative Arts, Canaan, N.H., displayed a rare collection of 51 Stevengraphs, woven in pure silk pictorial art, along with a complementary group of Arts and Crafts period accessories. “Weston was well attended by a wide range of participants from all areas of the country – inquisitive, well versed – that had never seen a large display like this,” recalled Adams. “I had a fine show; unexpected good sales and a strong follow up at home after its conclusion. I am looking forward to another year.”
Adams added that anyone wishing to learn more about Stevengraphs and other woven Victorian silk can contact him via email: email@example.com.
Other first-time exhibitors were Alden and Norma Chick, whose Autumn Pond business based in Woodbury, Conn., deals in delftware, folk art, paintings, furniture and accessories. “The Weston show was wonderful for Alden and me. We were extremely pleased with both the interest and the sales,” said Norma Chick. Two of their most interesting sales were a five-piece cobalt blue and white signed Delft garniture set, circa 1760, and a pair of signed and dated horse oil paintings. They sold a set of six Windsor bow back side chairs at the preview.
Her third year at the show, American paintings specialist Donna Kmetz of Douglas, Mass., said that with a booth by the show entrance, she got to see the lines at opening, the gate and the many things leaving the show throughout the weekend. “Plenty of furniture and a wide range of antiques found new homes,” she reported. “It’s wonderful to see the strong interest in high quality antiques. Also, the gate was quite strong all weekend – there was even a line on Sunday morning.”
Kmetz sold throughout the weekend, including a Pawlett, Vt., landscape by Elwyn Gowen, to a young couple who just closed on a house in the area. “I also sold a good Nineteenth Century landscape to buyers from Toronto. My best day actually came on Sunday with customers returning from earlier in the weekend. This year’s admission included entry to two lectures and four booth talks, plus show admission throughout the weekend – and customers did indeed come back. My Sunday sales included a wonderful painting of cows by National Academy and Litchfield Hills artist George Glenn Newell. The painting had been exhibited at the Salmagundi Club. It’s new home is a house in Vermont.”
Weston was also a very good show for Charles and Barbara Adams, South Yarmouth, Mass. “We sold well each day, including Sunday,” said Barbara Adams. “I guess Bennington was our big seller – well, after all, we were in Vermont where most of the pottery was made. After the 19 pieces sold at preview night, we sold five others during the show to make a total of 24 pieces,” she said. And after the show, she got a call from another customer they had met at the show. “So the show total is now 26. Not quite a record, as we did sell 30 pieces at the Midweek in Manchester show a few years ago.”
Oil paintings also sold well for the Adamses; they sold six. They also sold yellowware and blue sponge pottery, wooden gold letters and several frames.
For her fifth showing at Weston, textiles specialist Marsha Manchester – Milady’s Vintage Linens, Gardiner, Maine – provided more than sales anecdotes. She keeps a journal at shows to determine whether the show is worthwhile. “From the head count we took on Saturday, the attendance was up 23 percent over the past three years and my sales were up 31 percent. The shoppers chose only my very best and didn’t even consider asking for a discount,” said Manchester.
One exceptional sale she made was to an associate editor from Traditional Home magazine who has a third home in Weston. Surprisingly, the editor bought three very colorful, expensive chenille bedspreads, eight pair of colored embroidered pillowcases, and dozens of woven linen kitchen towels to use as placemats and napkins.
For information, 802-824-5307 or www.WestonAntiquesShow.org.