Published: February 14, 2017
By R. Scudder Smith
NEWTOWN, CONN. – Every so often I have reason to plow through several shelves of pamphlets and auction catalogs in search of one special publication, and never find it. However, the pain of defeat is generally overlooked by coming across another publication that provides me with a look into the past, a reminder of many dealers who held the antiques business together, and a show that always had many wonderful things, or more, to take home.
Just recently one of those dead-end hunts ended up with me holding a show catalog for the Twelfth Salisbury Antiques Fair, a three-day event, October 10-12, 1968, at Town Hall in the center of the bucolic village of Salisbury in northwestern Connecticut. Show hours were from 10 am to 7 pm and the fair was sponsored by the Woman’s Auxiliary of Trinity Church in Lime Rock, Conn. Sixty-four pages, wrapped in a yellow jacket with maroon printing, held a short history of the church, New England specialties for lunch and advertising for the town’s florist, plumber, auto company, hardware store and just about every other storefront in town.
The dealers in the show were all represented in the program, with one full page taken by Russell Carrell to advertise his “Antiques Shows of Quality” in the New England and Midwestern towns of Kent, Greenwich, Lake Forest, Grosse Pointe, Riverton, Stockbridge and Newtown. Additionally, there was mention of his seven annual editions of his “Original One-Day Rural Flea Market” in the cow pasture adjacent to his home in Salisbury.
The 25 exhibitors on the list were all household names. Some of the dealers were at show after show, often following the Carrell circuit, while others did fewer shows and maintained open shops. And a good number of the dealers at this small show in Salisbury spent ten days in New York City in January exhibiting at the Winter Antiques Show.
An alphabetical run-down of the list of exhibitors in 1968 is certain to jar some memories. Jean Allen was one of the dealers in Crossways Antiques located in Woodbury, Conn., with English and American antiques. Mr and Mrs Jerome Blum ran Willow Corners Antiques in Lisbon, Conn., with a very full shop of American primitive furniture and a home filled to capacity with their collections. Russell Carrell maintained a shop behind his home and was well known for his love of yellow-painted furniture and green-edge pottery, and James and Audrey Conniff, Perkinsville, Vt., offered things that would fit well in most any country home.
Paul W. Cooley, The Moyer Gallery, was located in Simsbury, Conn. Paul advertised that he “Specialized in the unusual in furniture and decorative objects.” DuVerrier had antiques and decorations on Third Avenue in New York City. Ferguson – Schmidt Antiques of Falls Village, Conn., dealt in early English porcelain. Mary Fisher of Bantam, Conn., and Pleasantville, N.Y., carried early furniture and accessories, while John and Anne Houghmaster, Troy, N.Y., were known for their books on antiques.
When not doing shows, Kinner & Harrigan saw clients in Rhinebeck, N.Y. Celeste & Edward Koster, Old Chatham, N.Y., were known for their expertise in the field of Shaker material and were also Winter Antiques Show exhibitors. Elizabeth Mankin operated Side Door Antiques in South Kent, Conn., where she always had a selection of Leeds and Staffordshire cow jugs. Bryce George Muir of Higganum, Conn., carried antiques and decorations and always a collection of jokes to entertain his fellow dealers when time dragged at shows.
Middletown Springs, Vt., was home for Nimmo and Hart, two wonderful guys who always had “a representative stock of Eighteenth Century pottery for collectors including polychrome Leeds, Whieldon, Pratt, Staffordshire, Delft and appropriate American and English country furniture.”
Howard and Priscilla Richmond moved from Silvermine, in lower Fairfield County, to an early Eighteenth Century home in Southbury, Conn., complete with a schoolhouse and a large barn. The property was formerly owned by Helena Penrose, a well-known antiques dealer. Penrose’s inventory was sold on site by Dick Withington, the first auction he ever conducted in Connecticut. It took little time for the Richmonds to fill the entire house and the schoolhouse with inventory, while moving their private collections into the barn. The dining room, the front right room, was always crowded with black-painted Spanish-foot side chairs and armchairs.
A familiar face at many antiques shows, including holding down a front booth at the Winter Antiques Show for years, was Marguerite Riordan, then in Glastonbury, Conn. Marguerite later moved to a prominent location in Stonington, Conn., where she still resides with her husband, Arthur.
Patricia Silleck from Scarsdale, N.Y., set a very formal look to her booth, while Kenneth E. Snow of the Olde Jail Antiques Shop in Newburyport, Mass., catered to the more country look. Malcolm Stearns Jr of Hobart House, Haddam, Conn., filled his booth with English, Irish and American silver, preferably made pre-1860. Sandy was a very pleasant salesman, especially when he stood behind his cases of silver wearing his special gloves for silver polishing, a product in which he had an interest. He was also an important collector of Historical Blue Staffordshire.
Edward L. Steckler was born in New York City, graduated with a political science degree from Princeton and went on to earn a law degree in New York. He helped his mother in her antiques shop and later moved to Windham, Conn. He devoted his life to antiques, especially Americana, folk art and paintings, with a special interest in corkscrews and sewer-tile pottery. His cases at antiques shows were always filled with corkscrews and he was always willing to talk about them.
John C. R. Tompkins operated out of Millbrook, N.Y., always on the lookout for American and English Eighteenth Century furniture, paintings, silver, china and glass, either a single piece or a collection. Sporting pictures covered the walls at John Vickers’ booth, and a large inventory always filled his location in Lakeville, Conn.
A large barn, or country shop, was filled with Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century American antiques along Route 6 in Woodbury, Conn. The lady responsible for it all, Moira Wallace, lived in the big Victorian house across the street and some days made many trips back and forth to take care of customers. In those early days, Woodbury had a weekly flea market and Moira was a regular visitor, never knowing what treasure might show up.
Paul A. Weld of Middletown, Conn., was a man of many surprises, and his collecting was deep with the unusual. For several years, he told me about a seagull decoy he had found, but it never appeared. Then one year at the Connecticut Antiques Show he directed me to “look under the cloth on that table.” There it was. I still have it to remind me of him.
At the end of the alphabet and rounding up the Salisbury Antiques Fair list of exhibitors was Thomas C. & Constance R. Williams, the famous pewter people of Litchfield, Conn. Yes, Williams and pewter were one and the same, but their interests in antiques ran in many directions, including paintings, furniture and rugs. And they were always ready to talk about antiques, to share their knowledge, be it at a small show around the corner from home or at their front booth at the Winter Antiques Show.
The past is great, it stirs wonderful memories, but I would prefer to visit that show once again.
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