Published: September 9, 2021
Review and Photos by Greg Smith
HARMONY TOWNSHIP, N.J. – The gate opened to the Warren County Antiques Show at 10 am on August 28 and about 15 minutes later, the rain began.
There was nothing to gripe about, though. The show had returned. In its 15th year and following a one-year hiatus on account of the pandemic, the Warren County Antiques Show welcomed back more than 100 dealers spread throughout three outbuildings, an open air pavilion and more under tents in between.
The rain that day followed a heavy fall the day before. Melva Sterlacci, who with Chris Beatty manages the show, said it was more rain than she had seen in a while. It ended at about 1 pm that day and didn’t come back through the run of the show, leaving most of Saturday and all of Sunday an ideal clime to buy antiques.
The show sets up at the Warren County Fairgrounds in Harmony Township, N.J., about as far west in New Jersey as you can get – less than two miles from the Delaware River and the Pennsylvania state line. The outbuildings were built to house animals and their open-air nature was a good fit for a pandemic antiques show. Dealers came from throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Maryland.
“It’s more a country antiques show,” said Beatty. “But there’s also local historical things. People come from all over to shop, from Massachusetts to the Midwest.”
The show is an honest venue for modest antiques. “It sure has grown in 15 years,” Beatty said. “But it’s the same as it was, just bigger. With better dealers and better quality.”
There was only one horse in its stall – a donkey, actually – and that was with Then & Now Consignment Shop, Hawthorne, N.J. The dealer set up a 1920s vaudeville donkey costume that would have been worn by two people. It had movable eyes and was wearing an early 1900s advertisement for electricity. The draped cloth read “Cook With Gas, Light With Electricity” and was specifically produced as a drape for a horse.
Another animal adornment came in the form of a red porcelain enamel headdress that read “The Greatest Show On Earth,” the motto for the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus. The headdress was worn on the forehead of an elephant, its tack rings attached around it to the leather backing and meant to hold it in place with leather straps. These were created in two colors, blue and red, for the two different touring troupes. The headdress was a highlight in the booth of Mark Yocum, Richland Town, Penn., who says this is the only show he does annually.
With Tewksbury, N.J., dealer G.A. Cirillo was an oil on board by Walter Baetz (American, 1895-1978), a New York state sculptor, artist and toy designer. Baetz sculpted the molds for toy soldiers produced by the Manoli Manufacturing Company in the mid-1930s. The painting was produced in the manner of de Kooning, but it was the frame that was special with thick serrated edges and painted details.
New Jersey pottery was on show with Wayne Laucius, Mount Bethel, Penn. The dealer displayed salt-glazed stoneware jugs by M.H. Haussling, Zucker & Stein and R. Heller.
Over in the booth of Tom and Linda Keady, Of The Earth, Blairstown, N.J., the dealer was showing off a 3-gallon open handled crock stamped “Boston” by Frederick Carpenter. After working at the Fenton pottery in New Haven, Conn., Carpenter and Jonathan Fenton established The Lynn Street Pottery in Boston and produced utilitarian stoneware that had both Germanic and English roots.
David Morua of Mount Arlington, N.J., brought along his collection of World War I trench art shells, though he said soldiers on the lines weren’t the creators of these – they were instead made by blacksmith or machinist soldiers. They were largely created on 75mm brass shells.
Washington, N.J., dealer Gary Neuls found himself working in Hong Kong and throughout Asia in the 1960s. It was there that he acquired some of his treasured Asian artifacts, including a carved gilt fragment depicting 15 birds feeding, which he said was removed from a 300-year-old Buddhist temple.
Other dealers brought along plenty of holiday materials, early primitives, textiles, ironware, toys, carpets and more.
Melva Sterlacci said the show drew in about as many visitors as in previous years. Their fervor extended beyond the show run.
“I had half a dozen emails from customers asking me if they could get in touch with a certain dealer because there was something they wanted to buy after the show,” she said. “Of course they don’t know who they are, they’re trying to describe booths and what the person looks like. For the most part we’ve been able to figure it out. I think that’s great – we haven’t had that before. After they left, they still wanted to buy something.”
The show will be back at the end of August next year.
For additional information, www.warrentountyantiqueshow.com or 908-343-5873.
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