Published: March 30, 2004
A March Wilton show without snow … it just doesn’t seem possible. “This just can’t keep happening to us,” stated show manager Marilyn Gould in regard to the four-plus inches of snow that was dumped on the area on the Friday preceding the 37th annual Wilton Antiques Show.
Gould’s last show in Wilton had been scheduled for December 7 but was ultimately canceled due to a snowstorm. “One of the dealers suggested I change my name,” she said with a chuckle, “so God won’t know where I am.”
Despite the show opening on March 20, the first day of spring, local residents peered out their windows to wintery snow-covered yards and gardens. This year’s March storm, unlike several from years past, may actually have helped Wilton though as by Saturday morning the roads were clear and dry and locals were looking for something to do. The end result: several hundred buyers were on hand awaiting the 10 am opening of the prestigious country show and it did not take long once inside to prove they were buyers.
Gould has refined Wilton during her long tenure and the show, made popular with its strong Americana roots, has risen to a level unparalleled in the region. Diversity has been one of her themes and this year’s show offered everything from Eighteenth Century furnishings to modern Twentieth Century art and furniture.
Sales were quickly recorded in numerous displays around the floor as the show opened to the public with one of the first rdf_Descriptions removed from the show coming from the booth of Woodbury dealer Wayne Pratt. Within moments of the crowd getting inside, a nice dovetailed blanket box with scrolled bracket-type base exited Pratt’s booth and was hustled outside into a waiting vehicle.
A huge copper lobster with great patina was also seen on its way out the door having moved from Hillary and Paulette Nolan’s display; Sidney Gecker was busy making out sales slips and just around the corner Victor Weinblatt was scrambling about as a variety of merchandise including a superbly painted large colorful checkerboard was exiting the booth.
A formal looking Sheraton bow front four-drawer chest was also a quick sell from the booth of Paul and Cheryl Scott. The dealers were extremely pleased with the show, commenting that within the first hour they had also sold not only the chest, but “everything nautical and a couple bird carvings. We have done business with new customers and old. It has been a good show so far,” stated Cheryl Scott. The dealers later reported selling four weathervanes – two horses, an eagle and a ship – furniture including stands, chairs and tables, and lots of accessories. “The show was up about ten percent for us over last year,” she said.
All was not peachy in Wilton, however, as some of the dealers reported a less than stellar event and the gate was visibly down. Gould reported that attendance on Saturday “was pretty close to last year,” however, “Sunday’s gate was off.” She also reported sales being “very mixed” with “some dealers doing quite well” while others “did not do well.”
Russ Goldberger of RJG Antiques reported a “good solid show.” The dealer stated that they “sold a nice variety of things from game boards, to decoys, to hooked rugs, to folk art.” Among the first rdf_Descriptions to move from the dealer’s booth was a game board in red, green, yellow and black, one of four sold. Four decoys were also reported sold including a rare cork bodied Long Island green-wing teal. The dealer also reported that a large patriotic general store sign had sold after having been spotted on RJG’s website. “A client called and asked us to hold it,” stated Goldberger, “They came to the show and bought it along with several other rdf_Descriptions.” The unusual sign was elegantly decorated with an American eagle with banner and also listed the wares offered by the store.
Marilyn Kemble classified Wilton as a “very fine selling show” for the Norwich, Ohio, dealers. “Customers were interested in upper-end merchandise throughout the show,” stated the dealer, “and a lot of our sales were made to previous customers, but we also made many new acquaintances.” The dealers reported sales of furniture, accessories, weathervanes and decoys. “We sold a nice tiger maple two-part cupboard, a tiger maple two-drawer stand, three weathervanes, brass and copper rdf_Descriptions, just a wide variety of merchandise,” she said.
A good selection of fine art was seen on the floor with an impressive display mounted by The Cooley Gallery. On one wall hung an attractive C.E. Porter oil on canvas depicting peonies in a vase, $50,000, while the opposite corner of the booth harbored several treasures including a 11- by 18-inch oil on canvas entitled “Twilight” by Dwight William Tryon that was stickered at $85,000. Other notable works in the booth included a Henry Ferguson, Leonard Ochtman and Frank Bicknell.
Greg Kramer and Co takes a doublewide corner booth and fills it to the brim with quality country merchandise ranging from paint decorated furniture to Pennsylvania accessories. Kramer reported a “very good show” with rdf_Descriptions selling across the board. The show got off to a good start on Saturday morning for the dealer when one collector descended upon the booth and purchased a large quantity of early chalkware. Numerous other pieces of chalkware would also sell from the display throughout the weekend along with more than a dozen pieces of spatter, a tiger maple corner cupboard and a three-piece set of tramp art furniture.
Cherry Gallery offered a good selection of rustic furniture and while the dealer reported that sales for furniture were soft, “quite a bit of interest was expressed for several pieces, people took photos and we expect some follow-up business.” Among the rdf_Descriptions sold from the booth was a monumental pair of horseshoe form andirons, a very nice mosaic twig box and a variety of smalls.
Long Island dealer Douglas Constant was among those that stated that he had experienced a “quiet” show. “We had a pretty good crowd on Saturday, but people seemed reluctant to spend.” The dealer did report the sale of an inlaid mahogany sewing table with serpentine front and pleated hanging bag that he had advertised for the December Wilton that was snowed out and canceled. “I still had it in stock,” according to the dealer, “so I brought it and it sold on Sunday.” Constant displayed a wonderful cupboard in a dry blue paint that was attracting a great deal of attention. “It got a lot of interest,” he said, “a bunch of people were turning the tag a bunch of times. They were also giving a New Hampshire sideboard a good look over. If we get any callbacks, it will likely be for one of those two pieces.”
Ron Bassin of A Bird In Hand Antiques, Florham Park, N.J., offered an eclectic mix of Americana and reported exactly the opposite. “Wilton was fabulous,” exclaimed Bassin, the dealer then rattled off a laundry list of rdf_Descriptions that had sold from his stand. “We sold stoneware, redware, decoys, furniture, a painting and an Amish crib quilt.” The dealer also reported substantial interest, although no sale as of yet, for a Stratford, Conn., carved black duck carved by local legend Roswell Bliss for local hunting legend Ken Peck. A Ken Harris redhead decoy sold; a New Jersey redhead and a New Jersey lesser yellowlegs in mint original paint also left the booth.
“We sold a major piece of redware,” said Bassin, citing “a Maine ship captain’s decanter in a white glaze.” The dealer also reported two other pieces of redware along with a marked Crolius jug selling.
Rufus Foshee said he sold some “very good and expensive things,” to customers on Saturday. The dealer reported selling some pearlware plates with blue edging and eagle decoration in the center, some high quality mocha including an extremely rare seaweed decorated tea pot and a “great big jug,” along with several pieces of spatterware. Sunday, however, according to the dealer, was disappointingly quiet.
Randall Decoteau commented that he was pleased with the show, selling numerous rdf_Descriptions. “I sold a nice assortment and had general interest across the board,” stated the dealer. From his stand a North Shore serpentine front card table was sold, a gallery-top cherry New Hampshire stand, a famille rose punch bowl and several pieces of Staffordshire and glass.
Some feel that Wilton is hampered by its date, but it is a date that the high school has locked Gould into as it coincides with the school’s spring vacation. Despite the mixed reviews, Wilton exhibited all the strength that it has for the past several years. It was a very good-looking show with plenty of prime buying opportunities.
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