Published: April 9, 2002
Story by Genevieve Ward, photos by Carol Sims
“Wilton was once a poor town,” according to Wilton Historical Society executive director Marilyn Gould. “Therefore, residents did not replace Eighteenth or Nineteenth Century houses until well into the Twentieth Century.”
The first of this year’s Wilton Antiques Shows took place March 16-17 for the benefit of the Wilton Historical Society. The major fundraiser for the society, the show (along with the November Craftsmanship Show) brings in 85 percent of the society’s operating budget.
Gould, who is also the show’s manager, says that the historical society has been at the forefront of preservation since the 1970s. In all, the society has preserved and maintains 14 historic buildings, including the adaptive reuse project at Lambert Corners. “Now more than ever, the historical society recognizes the need to save the town’s historic properties. There is an increased pressure for developers to buy lots an build larger, new homes.”
The historical society’s most important project thus far is nearly completion. South of the Wilton High School Field House on Route 7 stands the circa 1757 Sloan-Raymond-Fitch House and the circa 1739 Betts-Sturges-Blackmar House that are now connected by the Nineteenth Century Lawrence-Burt Barn.
According to Gould, the 3,200 attendance figure was down by about 15 percent, due partly to the fact that a full-page ad was unfortunately and inadvertently omitted in the March 15 issue of this newspaper. Wilton buyers come from all over, and tend to shop at all four annual antiques shows.
Nevertheless, dealers were able to enjoy serious business from committed buyers who prioritize Wilton in their busy schedule of spring shows to attend. Sorely missed at the show were two long-time exhibitors and friends that the antiques community sadly lost in recent months: Pat Guthman and Jonathan Boyd.
Pat was remembered through several copper pieces from her collection that were on view in Peter Warren’s booth (and sold early in the show). Gould noted that Peter Warren will continue to share parts of Pat’s collection with Wilton collectors, many of who were regular patrons of her always-charming booth.
Jonathan Boyd will be remembered when his sister and business partner, Priscilla Boyd Angelos of Meetinghouse Antiques, Fort Washington, Penn., reappears at the September Wilton show. Dealers and regular clients alike look forward to her presence at the show.
Having his best Wilton show ever was Victor Weinblatt. By Saturday, sales included an open bucket bench, three game boards, a Nineteenth Century millinery display cabinet, three blanket chests, a seven-foot harvest table, a five-foot-long salmon rug, a dough box, many decoys and more.
Steven Rowe, Leah Gordon, Jeff Henkel, Mario Pollo, Eve Stone, the Wendhisers, Kelter-Malce, Chesterfield, Pat Stauble/Shirley Chambers, the Hubers, Malcolm Magru-der, Finnegan Gallery, Jackie Radwin, the Milnes, Colt Barn, Thomas Longacre, the Scotts, Jim Hirsheimer and Stephen-Douglas all reported having an excellent show.
Charles and Barbara Adams of South Yarmoth, Maine, brought a variety of their antique specialties including baskets, Bennington pottery, furniture, spongeware and paintings. Sales at the Wilton show included a notable eel basket, selling to the same Nantucket collector who bought an eel basket from Nina Hellman. Bennington pottery and spongeware was selling to the Adams’ regular collectors. Other sales included several paintings and a schoolmaster’s desk.
Charlie Adams noted, “On Sunday around 4 pm, a woman came in and bought seven of our nine tinsel pictures. I helped her take them to the car as she was also carrying several other bags. She then came back in to pick up more things, so she really was good for the show!
“Wilton really works for us,” he said. “We have so many regular customers there and we always call them ahead to let them know what we have found for them.” Another special feature of their display was a set of Eighteenth Century embroidered segments of a Canadian moccasin that were fashioned from moose hair, and though crafted by Native Americans, were highly influenced by the French taste.
Textiles specialist M. Finkel and Daughter of Philadelphia displayed a silk embroidery by Ann Elizabeth Van Keuran of Kingston, N.Y., dated 1818, in addition to an 1830 Neo-classical country sofa of yellow birch.
Other textiles included an 1821 sampler wrought by Caroline Dean Choate of Essex, Mass., an 1810 sampler wrought by 7-year-old Mary Ann Harvey of Kennett Square, Penn., and a New York sampler dated 1830 and wrought by Margaret Trotter Lush of the Albany Female Academy. Amy Finkel reported selling nine of the samplers, the most important being a Philadelphia silk embroidery from the Folwell School.
Carol and Steve Huber of Old Saybrook, Conn., also displayed important textiles and brought several Connecticut examples to the show, including a 1773 sampler wrought by Anne Atwater Lydia at age 9 in New Haven and a 1774 wool on canvas piece by Leah Stone. Other New England examples included an 1802 silk on linen piece by Polly Parker, Bradford, Mass., and an 1826 Silk on linen work by Martha Story of Hopkinton, N.H.
Nantucket dealer and maritime specialist Nina Hellman reported excellent sales, which included scrimshaw, maritime paintings, a builder’s half-hull model, two painted signs, and the aforementioned eel basket, which she brought to Wilton after having purchased it back from someone to whom she had sold it more than 20 years ago. Said Hellman, “This show was as good or better than ever.”
Portland, Maine, dealers Heller-Washam enjoyed an attractive and spacious exhibit at the end of the first aisle. Bringing Queen Anne and Chippendale furniture dating from 1730-1790, the dealers also brought a notable late 1830s early Hudson River School painting.
Jackie Radwin brought a mid-Nineteenth Century Maine sawbuck table in blue paint that dated to circa 1850. Also on display was a set of six circa 1810 New England Windsor side chairs with bamboo turnings, a New York State open top step back cupboard and a circa 1890-1900 patriotic birdhouse with tin bottlecaps painted white for stars.
From Woodbury, Conn., Wayne Pratt displayed a rare New England blue-painted tavern table that dated to 1720-40, and a silk portrait of the ship Chas. Loring, by Thomas Willes (1850-1912), measuring 27 by 37 inches. Other furniture in the booth included a Queen Anne carved walnut bonnet top high chest by Nathaniel Fullerton, circa 1750-70, and a New England Queen Anne maple and pine porringer top tea table from 1740-60.
Steven Rowe, who had great success with his furniture, brought a circa 1780 Queen Anne mahogany drop leaf table with eight legs ending in pad feet. Hanging on the wall were brass wall sconces by Caldwell of Philadelphia. Also available was a circa 1840 New York State two-part desk-and-bookcase.
New Haven, Conn., dealer Edwin Ahlberg exhibited a circa 1810 mahogany Sheraton sideboard with original brass pulls, as well as a circa 1790 cherry inlaid Hepplewhite bowfront chest. A particularly nice dog painting depicted pointers in a snowy field and was painted by George Cooper, late Nineteenth Century.
New York City textiles dealer Laura Fisher did something a little different for this Wilton show, which attracted much due attention to her booth. Owing the idea to an upsurge in interest for hooked rugs, Fisher coordinated an elaborate display using a new rack system. She said, “New England loves rugs,” and customers had the perfect opportunity to view her vast collection: the rack was complete with convenient pictures and measurements of each rug.
Strafford, Penn., clocks dealer Gordon Converse said the highlight of his display was an important burl walnut Queen Anne English tall clock, which attracted significant interest both during and after the show. Converse also brought to Wilton a circa 1830 French clock commemorating Napoleon, and a circa 1800 New England eight-day birch clock by Joseph Chadwick.
From Plymouth, Mass., the Village Braider brought a circa 1910-20 model of a New York yacht that measured four feet long. Hanging on the wall, other pieces of interest included a set of Swiss furniture drawings signed L. Pfister that were executed in 1829.
John Sideli brought a large Fiske deer, a circa 1885 wood and glass polychromed terrarium, and a circa 1825 New Hampshire jelly cupboard in steel gray paint, measuring 72 by 45 by 181/2 inches. A set of circa 1840 paint-decorated chairs, most likely of Baltimore origin, were decorated in fruits and foliage.
Plummer & Philbrick brought a captivating dummy board that depicted a young girl holding a doll and baskets. Furniture included a circa 1700 blue Massachusetts blanket box, an Eighteenth Century Rhode Island banister back lady’s armchair in mustard paint, and a Rhode Island oval top button foot tea table with old red painted surface.
By Saturday afternoon, Cheryl and Paul Scott from Hillsborough, N.H., sold furniture, weathervanes, folk art, samplers, cast-iron garden rdf_Descriptions and paintings.
Highlights available from Chadds Ford, Penn., dealer R.M. Worth included a 1720-60 New England William & Mary gate-leg table with oval top, a circa 1820 Federal birch and maple card table from Portsmouth, N.H., and a circa 1820 Federal cherry and bird’s-eye maple sideboard. Decorative arts included a rare stoneware plaque depicting Benjamin Franklin and dated 1777.
Now that the addition of the Wilton Field House has been completed, dealers and shoppers can enjoy a single level of exhibits, which stretch from a hallway to the southwest side of the gym. Housed in the new wing are a number of dealers, including Hanes & Ruskin, American Decorative Arts, Darwin, Jeff Bridgman, Kenny & Jenner, the Wendhisers, Merle Koblenz and Patricia Stauble/Shirley Chambers. Traffic has definitely improved in this area, as the flow is easier for the shopper to navigate.
An imaginative display at Mad Parade of Chicago included a harvest table topped with WPA food sculptures that were once used at an education project for the Philadelphia Museum extension.
Hanging above the display was a captivating Depression-era painting executed in Lake George, N.Y., and depicting three children from the O’Dell family, who are identified on the painting’s reverse. The painting, dated July 7, 1930, shows three barefoot children dressed in threadbare clothing and solemn expressions. The work is punctuated with the wild blueberries that the children are consuming, as well as a bright red ribbon in one girl’s hair.
The Wilton Outdoor Antiques Marketplace will be June 22-23, featuring 190 exhibitors on The Meadows, north of Wilton High School on Route 7. For information, 203-762-3525.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm