Published: October 9, 2007
“People who don’t get to this show while in Brimfield are really missing out on something good.” This comment from Sandy Hart, one of the approximately 40 antiques dealers participating in Nan Gurley’s Sturbridge Antiques Show on September 6, neatly summed up the one-day event conducted inside the exhibition hall of the Sturbridge Host Hotel and Conference Center.
Brimfield week’s lone indoor event, heavy on primitive, country and Americana, Gurley’s show began six years ago as a complement to Brimfield’s 20-plus shows conducted on the fields flanking the mile-long stretch of Route 20. Neither heat nor cold, rain nor wind stays these intrepid dealers from reaching their customers †because the atmosphere is always peachy inside the climate-controlled Sturbridge Host Hotel.
Gurley, her husband, Peter Mavris, and son, Josh, form the triumvirate bringing together the dealers from about ten states, mostly New England, who specialize in early primitive furniture, home decorative accessories and textiles.
One of those dealers, Hart’s Country Antiques, set up its space to look like an old country store showcasing primitives, painted furniture and smalls. The New Oxford, Penn., dealer said smalls comprised the bulk of her sales, including an early Nineteenth Century bowl with original surface, 15 pieces of stone fruit and an early Pennsylvania mortised milk stool with original green paint. “Great Americana shows up at this show,” said Hart.
Firehouse Antiques of Galena, Md., came to the show with a mixture of painted country furniture and garden ornaments. A focus of the booth was a great primitive hooked rug from New Hampshire, circa 1930s, depicting a bear that even in attack stance seemed mighty cuddly. The rug had been professionally mounted and was displayed above a grouping of 1930s cast stone capitals that had a great graphic look.
Said Paul Thien, a co-owner of the firm, “The opening crowd and the interest and enthusiasm seemed very positive to us this year. We sold a great early chair table/bench in original turquoise paint that was right out of a collection in Maryland. We brought it to the show hoping that it would sell and it did. We were glad to see many familiar faces again for the September show.”
“Several of us have been doing this show since its inception and believe it represents good value for both buyers and sellers,” observed Lynda Ziegler from Epping, N.H. “There is always a good variety of Americana ready for your home or shop.” Ziegler, who does business as Ziegler Antiques at Autumn Hill Farm, said she had several good sales at the show, including a very graphic log cabin quilt and a small storage box with original paint.
Anne Bedics from Bangor, Penn., is the show’s Cat Lady, specializing in mostly Pennsylvania-found early to late Nineteenth Century textiles, cloth dolls and painted smalls. She was exhibiting Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century textiles, folk art quality cloth dolls and sewing items, among which was an interesting doll in a brown gingham dress that was making its second life as a “white” doll. Bedics explained that playthings were so dear in Nineteenth Century Pennsylvania that dolls were often recovered and passed from the eldest child down to the youngest. “Her original face was black as far as I am able to tell. The second covering is white,” said Bedics.
Gurley’s show is a magnet for dealers who concentrate in folk art and whimsical items. Such was the case with Tommy Thompson of Pembrook, N.H., who set up a shelf containing an early Twentieth Century American Milk Co. pull toy horse, various painted boxes, probably New England, a pear-shaped candy container and a Victorian velvet carrot.
This was probably the last show for Dan and Alice Fleming. The Sunderland, Mass., dealers of early Americana and ephemera said they are “hanging it up” after all these years. On view in their booth was an 1825 tombstone candle box with incised initials “I.H.O” on the top, perhaps made of maple, according to Dan Fleming. Alice Fleming showed an ephemera piece sure to please a crossover market †an 1883 order sheet detailing the wholesale prices for stoneware by Edward Norton.
Kay Puchstein of American Heritage Antiques from El Jobean, Fla., had a pair of Ohio watercolor portraits, circa 1840, of a husband and wife, which she tongue-in-cheek pronounced “married, but not happy.” An unusual Shaker double measure bucket in old blue paint was also on offer.
Primitive furniture from the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century is also the focus of Edd and Karan Oberg of Ashford, Conn., who do business as Richmond House Antiques. A Nineteenth Century cupboard, probably from Pennsylvania, according to dealer Karan Oberg, with a great surface was a highlight. “We fell in love with the wonderful cutouts,” said Oberg. The couple also showed a Nineteenth Century New England splint basket with two handles and an Eighteenth Century chest of drawers, probably from Connecticut, in great old red surface.
“Unusual” and “old” are the collecting watchwords of Maine dealer Louise D. Hardie from Falmouth. Her grouping of Nineteenth Century powder horns included examples from Pennsylvania with incised decoration, one of which was signed “A Bowditch, 1848.” A highly decorated European ceremonial canteen from a continental volunteer fire department was another rarity worth mentioning.
There was a great diminutive step back cupboard with drawers in the booth that Portland, Maine, dealer Patricia Stauble shared with fellow antiques dealer Shirley Chambers. Measuring about 3 feet wide and under 5 feet tall, the piece was from the mid-1800s. A game table in original mustard and green, also from the mid-1800s, was displayed next to the cupboard.
Conferring after the show, the two dealers concluded that the September event was not as good for them as the one in May, “which is quite understandable,” explained Chambers, “considering the fall Brimfield is never as strong as May. Be that as it may, I believe most of Nan’s dealers did reasonably well, with a few, as usual, doing very well indeed. A good size line was waiting to get in and they scattered and began buying almost immediately. We sold a few expensive things, but if we had been able to offer more good painted woodenware and folk art in the $200 to $400 range, we could have kept selling most all day because that’s what the Brimfield crowd wants.”
Even a monumental pair of Novalux lamps made from General Electric, circa 1930, which would have been right at home out on the fields a few miles down the road, were available. Susan Gault, the Thetford, Center, Vt., dealer, was showing them in Sturbridge just for fun. In contrast †and truer to the nature of the Gurley show †Gault also offered a small rare sunburst oil burner lamp, circa 1830-40.
The next date for Gurley’s Sturbridge Antiques Show will be May 15. For information, 207-625-3577.
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