Published: October 7, 2003
For those who may never have been bitten by the collecting bug, Marilyn Gould tried to create an itch by supplementing her September Wilton DAR Antiques Marketplace show with an exhibition at the nearby Wilton Heritage Museum, where she serves as director for the Wilton Historical Society. “Wilton Collects!” showcased portions of collections by 26 adults and ten sixth graders ranging from Oriental ceramics and art to dolls, toys and trains, hats and political memorabilia.
Gould also devoted a small portion of the show’s field house space to a minidisplay of her own collection of American patriotic symbols – eagles, shields and flags – in an effort to show that acquisitiveness, when channeled into a systematic search for objects that connect us with our past, can have real value – both financial and emotional.
There were myriad opportunities for people to either begin, continue or complete their own particular “hunt” at the Wilton High School field house on September 21, the site of the one-day Wilton DAR Antiques Marketplace. The event, conducted on the last Sunday of summer, drew approximately 100 exhibitors of art and antiques from 15 states, and presented its usual well balanced mix of American, English and European country and formal period furniture, decorative arts and folk art from the Eighteenth, Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries.
After suffering an aestivus estivus horribilis along with many other New England show promoters, which deluged most of this season’s outdoor shows with rain, Gould’s latest indoor event was accompanied by warm, sunny late summer weather. Ironically, that may have prodded collectors, dealers, designers and the retail crowd – only human, of course, and equally starved for good weather weekends – into doing something other than shopping for serious antiques, resulting in a noticeably lighter than normal gate.
Competing shows in Hartford, Conn., and Katonah, N.Y., may have also siphoned off some showgoers, but for Robert Perry, Hamburg, N.Y., who shared space at the show with Jeff Bridgman, Dillsburg, Penn., lingering economic concerns among the American buying public as much as the weather and show calendar conflicts may have also played a role in reducing the gate. “This caliber of show should have had many more supporters in my judgment,” he said. “The show quality was of high standards, but the clients did not show up to buy.”
Perry, in his third year at Wilton, was showing an Eighteenth Century press bed from the Hudson Valley in original bittersweet paint and with urn finials, priced at $3,900. Another interesting rdf_Description was a Salem, Mass., sampler for which Perry had the complete family provenance from the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. The sampler was wrought “In memory of Mary J. Derby, who died April 20, 1838, aged 17 years.”
New to the Wilton show this year, James Levis of Levis Fine Arts, Charleston, Mass., believed that the lighter than normal attendance seemed consistent with other shows he has experienced in the past several months, but he added that the patrons who did come through his display were sophisticated and interested in mixing paintings and sculpture from all periods with antique furnishings and accessories. “In fact, my strongest sales were in modernist works,” said Levis.
Levis, who has been collecting American art from the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century for more than 20 years, said he was getting a lot of interest in the poignant oil on canvas by Waldo Pierce (1884-1970) depicting a circus performer. “It really makes an emotional statement,” said Levis. He also pointed out a sculpture in black walnut of a rooster by Cabot Lyford (born 1925), titled “Good Morning,” as well as an Impressionist scene by Wilson Henry Irvine (1869-1936). Titled “Indian Summer,” the 24 by 27 inch oil on canvas was being offered for $16,500.
Frederic I. Thaler, Cornwall Bridge, Conn., brought a selection of American paintings of the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century, furniture, folk art and related accessories.
A folky hooked rug, circa 1930, depicting no fewer than ten cats, each rendered in a distinctive color and pose, was among the appealing rdf_Descriptions in the booth of Jackie Radwin, San Antonio, Texas. Priced at $2,800, the “infinitely charming” rug sold early in the day, along with a Pennsylvania blanket chest from the Soap Hollow area, which was inscribed “Elizabeth Eash 1877” and featured high bracket feet and original glowing surface. “Wilton has always been a wonderful venue for us,” said Radwin. “We really love exhibiting there.”
The show’s light attendance did not seem to be significant factor for Rick Russack of F. Russack Books, Danville, N.H. “Fortunately for me, the ones that that were there were regular customers and I did reasonably well overall. Off, but not to any major degree. We sold some fairly expensive books, and it was pretty much across the board. Some good furniture books sold, as did some silver books, some on textiles, and some on New England houses and barns. I don’t think I sold anything on clocks, Shaker or firearms.”
William R. and Teresa F. Kurau, Lampeter, Penn., brought their historical Staffordshire, Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century English pottery, early American pressed and blown glass and political Americana.
“We really enjoyed doing the Wilton DAR show, and it was fun putting together the booth,” said Steve and Lorraine German, Mad River Antiques, North Granby, Conn. The Germans joined the show at the last minute to fill in for another dealer who could not attend for personal reasons. “We were grateful to Marilyn for including us in her roster because we feel that the Wilton shows are among the best in New England, presenting some of the finest antiques around.”
The Germans had several sales during the preshow as well as the show itself. “Overall, we were very satisfied,” they said. Two of their more memorable sales were a large stoneware jar with a possible attribution to the Mead pottery works of Greenwich, Conn., which was active toward the end of the Eighteenth Century. It was decorated on both sides with a cobalt swag and tassel decoration. The other sale was a sampler that had a birth date of December 7 – the same birth date as the customer who bought it. “As usual, this Wilton show was as extremely well organized, which made setting up and breaking down much easier for the dealers,” they said.
Jane McClafferty, New Canaan, Conn., displayed a Boston table, a New England cherry serpentine front chest, circa 1790, and a selection of smalls, including an English two-part tea caddy, circa 1820, with oval inlaid top, brass and copper ware, a carved sailing ship shadow box and an unsigned mid-Nineteenth Century oil on canvas portrait.
“Holden Antiques did all right – not great, but. all right,” said Anita Holden, who with husband, Ed, divides time between Sherman, Conn., and Florida. The Holdens sold a blanket chest and a Mennonite quilt during dealer setup, and were showing, among smaller furniture and decorative accessories, a selection of samplers from Australia, England and America. The English sampler was exceptionally large – 26 by 27 inches – and depicted a view of Solomon’s Temple, very well worked with animals, urns and trees.
The Holdens said their most interesting sale was a carousel rocking horse. “A man looked at it in the morning, and drove back to Greenwich to get his wife so that she could see if it was what she wanted,” recalled Anita Holden. “She liked it, and they bought it.”
H and H Antiques, New Canaan, Conn., brought its usual interesting silver pieces with American, English, Scottish, German and Chinese origins
Florham Park, N.J., dealers Joyce and Ron Bassin of A Bird in Hand reported good sales. A Bird in Hand Antiques specializes in stoneware, decoys, painted furniture and folk art. “Though we feel that generally the attendance was fewer and less vibrant than it has been in the past, there were still a significant number of attendees who were very knowledgeable and interested in adding to their collections and/or their homes,” said Joyce Bassin.
The Bassins sold a set of six Hitchcock chairs – two armchairs and four side chairs – in original paint and dating from circa 1930-40 to a couple from Malden Bridge, N.Y. “Among our other sales were three very fine decoys to avid New York City collectors and an incised, signed stoneware jug to another New York City collector,” said Joyce Bassin. A Westport, Conn., couple bought an oversized Shenandoah Valley painting to add to their own gallery. “This was an especially satisfying sale, as he is an artist himself, yet wanted this traditional painting to enjoy and felt it would be a complement to his own contemporary art,” said Bassin. “As usual, Wilton is a fun show to exhibit in. Setup was as smooth as ever, we were surrounded by wonderful dealers and merchandise, and selling for us was good.”
Keeping the spirit of high country alive at the show was Patricia Drake Keady of Drake Field Antiques, Longmeadow, Mass., who specializes in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century American furniture and accessories.
Loy and Rae Harrell, who operate The Hawk’s Nest, Hinesburg, Vt., were offering a Nineteenth Century original red cobbler’s bench, an ebullient Rochester, N.H., Ironworks rooster, circa 1885, a Nineteenth Century Maine hooked rug with yellow floral design, a folk art painted pony, circa 1910, and a rare American flag weathervane.
Rick MacLennan of Savannah Period Investments, Savannah, Ga., and Haddam, Conn., was seen carrying out one of two equestrian hunter-jumper course guide poles. Found in Litchfield County, MacLennan said they went to a folk art collector for a home in New Canaan, Conn. “The show, for me, was a solid success in that I sold a wide variety of merchandise,” said MacLennan, whose eclectic booth drew a lot of interest from other dealers before the show.
MacLennan reported other merchandise that sold well included quilts and coverlets, folk art and Nineteenth Century trade signs, and buyers ranged from dealers to sophisticated collectors.
“I found the crowd knowledgeable, friendly, upscale and interesting,” said MacLennan. “I was particularly struck and proud to be associated in the same show with some of the top dealers in the United States. The DAR did a wonderful job through Marilyn Gould in promoting this show and it was great day.”
Terry Tushingham of Demarest, N.J., perennially the first early buyer in line at every Wilton show, agreed that it was a great day. She summed up her outing this way: “I got some nice things – a set of 1820 Vermont Windsor chairs, a mini wood rack, a small early basket, a green pantry box and a candle dryer. It was definitely worthwhile.”
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