Published: April 22, 2003
Story and photos by Nancy J. Vozar
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — It was apropos on the weekend of the Academy Awards (March 22-23) that the Atlantique City special exhibition displayed Dorothy’s dress from The Wizard of Oz. With almost 1,000 dealers selling everything from monumental French bronzes to marbles, shoppers instinctively paraphrased the immortal cinematic words of Dorothy, “.”
Dealers, too, who were happy with the crowds, their sales, or just how smoothly everything ran under the management of Ted Jones and his staff, also echoed this phrase throughout the course of the weekend. Quite an accomplishment considering the fact that as the dealers were moving into more than 101/2 acres of exhibition space, our troops were moving into Iraq.
As Ted Jones said, “To be able to fill this place with dealers when we are in the midst of a war is a good thing. I was thrilled with the crowds. The show’s attendance was equal to, or better than, last March. Sunday was strong, too. And most importantly, the people were spending the money!”
With a degree in both communications and political science, dealer Mark Block of Blockglass, Ltd, Trumbull, Conn., may have been right-on-the-money when he commented on why his sales were strong despite the onset of the war. “The certainty of the war has made it much less unstable. The fact that the country took some action this week may have actually helped the show and sales.”
A champion of studio glass artisans, Block explained the detailed process that American artisan Mark Matthews used in developing his art glass spheres that are exact replicas of 13 endangered animal species. Modeled from Smithsonian Institution photographs of pelts from animals shot by Teddy Roosevelt, these spheres were so precise that even the spine of the animal was visible in the glass. Recognized as a true American art, examples are housed in the Victoria and Albert Museum, Corning Glass Museum and the Toledo Museum of Glass.
Almost all of Matthews’s major pieces sold during the show including a giraffe skin sphere that wandered out the door and a Vermont landscape sphere that will add a little New England charm to a West Coast collection. The major sale, located front and center in Block’s booth, was a sphere made by Mark Matthews in 1985. Entitled “Population Portrait V,” it was a grouping of 44 spheres arranged to highlight the diversity of color, design and studio art glass technique, to express the diversity of our population. Only one of two made, this signed and dated work sold for $33,000.
With the show’s motion picture theme firmly in mind, the Convention Center’s weekend address could have been Hollywood and Vine. Indeed, admiring many of the rdf_Descriptions, one could immediately draw a connection between antiques and cinema. For example, the immortal Casablanca — with its love triangle and WW II French patriots — is based on a play entitled Everybody Comes to Rick’s. At each Atlantique City show people flock to Edmondo Crimi’s booth for his monumental French bronzes, fountains and furniture. His booth (Best of France, Lambertville, N.J.) was fraught with eye-popping bright red sold tags. One could imagine hearing the French national anthem, “La Marseillaise,” with Bogart and Bergman in the background.
Crimi, a ten-year show participant, has a number of regular customers who attend the show. He reported sales of a Nineteenth Century French oak Gothic buffet, a Nineteenth Century French Louis XVI-style buffet, a Louis XV 18-foot-long dining table, a sculpture of a bucking bronco approximately ten feet high, a few large French fountains and a number of sculptures including one of a heron done by Moignez. Commenting on the show management Crimi noted, “They do an excellent job of promoting the show.”
An image of Marie Antionette on a circa 1890-1906 Belleek loving cup seen in the booth of B&B Antiques, Springfield, Mass., could trigger an association with the movie industry’s version of Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” It was certainly the “best of antiques” in the booth. Framing B&B’s space was a highly ornamental French Baroque-style table and two matching chairs, made of bronze with silver plate.
Among the high-end porcelain and glassware rdf_Descriptions seen at B&B was an American Belleek circa 1890 teardrop vase. Made by Ott & Brewer, it was a sizable 181/2 inches tall. Dealers Robert Holbrook and Robert Louder also displayed an 1879 Worcester pierced vase and cover with decorative handles, and an early enamel on glass Moser vase with a bird in relief and a Lalique desk set (with its original paper seal) comprised of a letter opener, blotter and tray.
Show-stopper porcelain and glass were also seen at the booth of Dogwood Antiques, Lexington, Ky. Among Dan Marquette’s showcased rdf_Descriptions was a pair of hand blown (circa 1850) Sandwich Nailsea vases. Extremely rare — the only other known pair is in the Sandwich Museum — it had everything going for it — age, size and condition. Other pieces spotlighted were two Royal Bonn wall hangings artist signed and dated 1903, a Limoges unique shaped urn with lid by William Gurin, a sizable Webb rainbow jardiniere, a Moser aquatic designed enamel pitcher, a Moser wedding chalice in the Islamic style, a Heckert decanter set with a Sixteenth Century medieval look and a Bohemian cranberry handled decanter with a heavily enameled rooster on the front.
Someone with a good perspective on the show was William Biggar from Chamblee, Ga., who has been part of this show since he was a child. Taking a quick trip down memory lane Biggar said, “As a child I remember sleeping under the tables.” There was no time for him to catnap this year. He said, “It was a surprisingly good show. People are trying to get things going and start buying again. Unlike some other shows, this is a show that you can sell strong on Sunday, too.” Flagging the entrance to his booth was a Bob’s Big Boy store display appropriately draped in the patriotic red, white and blue. Among a collection of early advertising signs and calendars was a rare 1940s porcelain die-cut neon Howard Johnson Restaurant sign that originally welcomed travelers in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Robert Lloyd of Albertson, N.Y., showed off some special smalls. A Tiffany & Co. (Paris, circa 1890) carved tortoise shell fan set with rubies, sapphires and diamonds mounted in 18K gold even had a miniature painting on ivory set in the corner of the tortoise. Undoubtedly a commission piece, the ivory is thought to be of the original owner. With an eye for the unique, Robert also pointed out a snuffbox with the maker’s mark of Nathaniel Mills (Birmingham, 1848). It was presented by P.T. Barnum and was engraved with his cathedral from Bridgeport, Conn. Even on a small Seventeenth Century spice holder, the maker’s attention to detail was apparent. It was elaborately designed with a coat of arms on the grill and mythological figures along the sides.
Reels and creels decorated several booths. Male Antique Decor, Roxbury, Conn., proudly exhibited a “crown” of a creel. It was a rare salmon fisher’s basket (circa 1890) that was engraved with the former owner’s name, Viscount Arbuthnott of Fordoun Station, Aberdeen. Other conversation pieces filling out the booth were a display board of Nineteenth Century binoculars (which included a rare triocular model), a four-foot- long Nineteenth Century blow gun with scrimshaw and a Nineteenth Century Black Forest antlered four-slot gun rack.
Another cinematic image came to mind in the booth of first-time exhibitor Joe Bennett from Greenville, S.C. Some of his fishing tackle could have been used by Spencer Tracy in the Hemingway adaptation of The Old Man and the Sea. His struggle with that legendary marlin might have gone much more “swimmingly.” Bennett had a rare fly reel manufactured by Vom Hofe (circa 1899) that was in mint condition. Reporting that he had a good show, some of his sales included creels, bamboo fly rods, fishing reels and antique pipes.
Similarly Captain Bligh from any of the three major screen versions of Mutiny on the Bounty, or Jimmy Stewart’s character from Hitchcock’s Rear Window, could have used any of the vintage brass telescopes seen in the booth of James Kennedy Antiques, Durham, N.C. Explorers of the land, sea and sky could find a collection of 1950s binoculars with one being a German military example, 1920s brass telescopes on tripods, an Eighteenth Century theodolite by the well-known instrument maker John Cuff (London, 1731-1770), and a rare Czech-oslovakian Victorian orrery.
Other rdf_Descriptions included a steam driven model speed boat, a circa 1890 pond yacht hull, a brass wedding box and a medicine bowl cover that were both from the Ivory Coast, a very rare Yoruba currency that was used as dowry and a rare, large Kuba cloth.
Diane and Doug McElwain, Sport & Spool Antiques, traveled from Goldsboro, N.C., with antique sports equipment. A standout in their booth was an early Twentieth Century catcher’s uniform complete with a period chest protector. Noting how creative her customers can be, she described how some of their 1920s pole vaults are now being used as curtain rods! Pointing out a pair of early Twentieth Century Spalding Gold Medal Indian clubs, Diane mentioned how they were actually used as exercise weights.
Are you more of an observer of sporting events than a participant? Then the leather Joe DiMaggio baseball glove chair, seen in the booth of Boggs Boynton, Clarksboro N.J., was just the rdf_Description for you. Circa 1972, this conversation piece was made by Poltronova/ Stending. A large terra-cotta platter that was exhibited at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, was appropriate for the Jersey shore since it was painted with a Greek mythological scene of what appeared to be Neptune, the god of the sea. Receiving a lot of attention was an excellent condition Palmer & Cox (patented 1892) ten-pin game with verses on the back of each pin. Given the current world climate, we found the words on the back of the Uncle Sam pin to be fitting: “I represent the Nation grand, that ever will for freedom stand.”
Clara Johnson, Point Pleasant Antique Emporium, Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., also commented that she had a good show. Among the rdf_Descriptions sold were an American Impressionist oil on board landscape, a watercolor by Cameron of the Eddy Stone lighthouse, dolls, jewelry, furniture, some china and decoys. Johnson applauded management’s “Let me think about it” notepads as a clever marketing tool. On each slip of paper the customers could write the booth number and a description of the rdf_Description that they are thinking of purchasing. Given the size of the show, Johnson felt it was a good way of having customers return and buy.
Linda LaBonte and Irene Finch, Aged to Perfection Antiques, arrived from Harrison, Maine, with a 1940s Columbia tabletop slot machine with interchangeable denominations from nickels to quarters. Commenting on attendance, LaBonte said, “The American people did not let us down. They were out in force and out to buy.” Their sales included pottery, yellowware, games, marbles and garden signs.
Nancy Kasting, N.A.N. Antiques, Kutztown, Penn., echoed similar remarks noting, “It’s always a good show, even when the times are tough.” Among her fine offerings was a French enamel dresser box, a mid-Nineteenth Century Meissen figure, a Gesland French fashion doll and a rococo miniature pier table. With good sales, Nancy highlighted two choice rdf_Descriptions that will beautify new homes. One was a rare Pierrot powder puff stand made by Dressel & Kister and the other was a Heubach piano baby with a rare removable head.
The Sword & Pen, North Wales, Penn., decorated the wall of its booth with autographs on letters, checks and Whitehouse cards from Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Teddy Roosevelt, Queen Victoria, Napoleon I, Charles Lindbergh, Jack London, Andrew Wyeth and Buffalo Bill, just to name a few. There was even a grouping of dishes, framed in a shadow box, from Czar Nicholas II. A second arrangement consisted of the Czar’s silverware.
Show participants for 15 years, Alan and Adele Grodsky, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., noted sales that included a Pairpoint puffy lamp, several Tiffany art glass rdf_Descriptions and some Rookwood pottery. Adele also said that it was a well-attended show.
And so with these sales, it goes without saying many antiques were Gone with the Wind.
The next Atlantique City show is scheduled for October 18-19. For information or tickets, call 800-526-2724.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm