Published: June 10, 2003
By W.A. Demers
RHINEBECK, N.Y. — “Thank you, Jimi.” Say it soft, and it’s almost like praying. Such were the prayers on the lips of many an antiques dealer, and they were indeed answered as the spring edition of the Rhinebeck Antiques Fair came to an end at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds. The two-day show, celebrating its 27th year on May 24-25, featured enthusiastic buying and selling on both days, drawing a gate of 7,800, according to promoter Jimi Barton, who pointed out that the figure was just shy of May’s all-time record of 8,100.
Against a challenging economic backdrop, Barton and show manager Bruce Garrett again demonstrated their ability to get the crowds to come. The rest was up to the 200 dealers assembled in what by all accounts was a beautifully staged and smooth running show. The fact that Rhinebeck is conducted entirely indoors turned out to be a big plus on a Memorial Day weekend that offered up plenty of rain and chilly temperatures.
Just down the road, for example, in Hyde Park, N.Y., Flamingo Productions promoters John and Tina Bruno and a small band of dealers were dealing with hosting an outdoor tailgate show on the soggy if beautiful tree-lined grounds of Saint James Church. But in Rhinebeck, as the Saturday rains came down, shoppers entering the four-building complex at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds could be assured of a dry, comfortable day of adventure and discovery.
They could also count on Rhinebeck’s on-site delivery staff to take the hassle out of schlepping their purchases. Said manager Garrett, “Our porters kept busy all day, both Saturday and Sunday, big stuff and smalls. Our delivery service brought nothing but smiles.”
Many dealers characterized the show as one of their best ever. Statistically, according to Barton, 82 percent of the dealers reported having a “good to excellent show” on the postevent questionnaire.
Comments from several of the dealers contacted for this article support the numbers. “It was a great Rhinebeck, certainly the best ever for me,” said Dave Mason, West Cornwall, Conn. “I think the weather was not a problem. The buyers were serious shoppers, and there were plenty of them.”
Mason, who sold a number of rdf_Descriptions early on the first day, including a nearly life-size fountain statue of Neptune with his trusty, rusted iron trident and a painter’s box, complete with old tubes of paint and brushes and a country landscape scene painted on the inside lid, said his most interesting sale was “an incredible camp table whose surface was completely carved by a hungry porcupine. After I sold it, it resold twice before leaving Rhinebeck.”
“A fabulous show, my best ever” said Barbara McLean, who, with Susan Edgerly, operates Main Street Antiques in Kent, Conn., and has been participating at Rhinebeck for about five years. Edgerly specializes in primitive small furniture and apothecary rdf_Descriptions while McLean’s focus is European textiles. McLean said the show’s formula for success is the diversity of the dealers who are asked to participate and the wide range of price points. For Rhinebeck, McLean brought English, French and Welsh quilts, Welsh blankets and French antique linens to the show, among other rdf_Descriptions. “We sold a lot of ironstone,” she said, “People were also fascinated by the Nineteenth Century majolica plates set in wire, the wirework all hand-done.
“A wonderful show, certainly our best in the past couple years,” said Sheila Hylan, Southbury, Conn., who, with husband Ed, specializes in country furniture, early baskets, stoneware and other accessories. Hylan said they sold across a broad spectrum of merchandise – furniture, an early sampler, circa 1816, oil paintings, stoneware, benches, ironstone. “It was like the old times at Rhinebeck,” said Hyland who has been a dealer at the show for at least 22 years. “We usually do most of our business on Saturday, but this year Sunday was a busy day for us, too.”
Mimi Cutler, Fleetville, Penn., who displayed a nine-piece set of 1930s split reed furniture among her rdf_Descriptions, agreed. “I would say that there was a terrific gate,” she said. “Busier than I ever remember on Saturday. The rainy weather always seems to add to the attendance, which was in no way affected by the tailgate show.” Cutler also remarked on the attitude of the customers, which she characterized as enthusiastic and upbeat. “I heard all great comments about the show and the diversity and quality of what was offered for sale,” Cutler said. “Rhinebeck continues to be a dynamic venue and one that I thoroughly enjoy being apart of.”
“It’s not just that I did very well at the show, but that many dealers also did well,” commented Bruce Emond of The Village Braider, Plymouth, Mass. Citing great attendance both days, Emond said he believed the weekend’s rainy weather had a positive effect and that Flamingo Productions’ outdoor show in Hyde Park had no effect. Emond said that among the 39 sales he made over the two days were a mid-Nineteenth Century American large bank of drawers with a dry old surface and a large lot of 15 cast stone doves, circa 1920.
For Ron Chambers, Higganum, Conn., who deals in American and English pewter and period accessories, Rhinebeck ranked as one of his top three shows. While Saturday seemed the strongest, Chambers said Sunday was good also, and he, too, believed the rainy weather helped attract shoppers. He sold pewter, furniture, iron, early and late brass candlesticks, as well as a tea table and chair.
Merle Koblenz, South Kent, Conn., did not ascribe much credit to the weather for the excellent Saturday gate, “since the gate is so good anyway.” Koblenz said her most interesting sale was a 1920s Deco platinum diamond bracelet. “Once the woman was trying it on in front of a large client audience, everyone wanted it as well,” said Koblenz.
A pair of Chinese ancestral portraits, 300 years old, gazed out at shoppers at Van Deusen House, Hurley, N.Y. The paintings were brought over to the United States in the 1930s, according to Iris Oseas, who with husband Jonathan has been participating in Rhinebeck since its inception 27 years ago. “Jimi always gets a crowd,” Oseas said when interviewed during dealer setup, and, sure enough, she reported an exceptionally good gate on Saturday. “Rain always has a positive effect on an indoor show. It keeps people out of their gardens and off the golf course,” she said. Among the Oseas’ most interesting sales was a piece of early Japanese Oribe pottery and an Eighteenth Century hand colored print.
“It was my best Rhinebeck ever,” enthused Mike White of Loudenville Folk Art, Loudenville, N.Y. “God Bless Jimi Barton, and Bruce is doing an outstanding job for him.”
White said that customers who shop Rhinebeck are not “fair-weather” shoppers. “They are savvy buyers looking for quality and it’s virtually always found at Rhinebeck,” he said. White displayed a chip carved cupboard, circa 1920s, a 12-panel polychrome pie safe, an Odd Fellows ceremonial ark of the covenant with no restoration and a Pennsylvania blanket chest, circa 1850. The chest proved to be one of White’s most interesting sales. In fact, he sold it twice during the show.
“It was in outstanding paint and completely original,” recalled White. “I sold it to a dealer about an hour into the Sunday show. He was unable to take it immediately as it was so busy, so I put a sold tag on it. A few hours later, a young couple admired it so much, that I went through all the box’s fine details. I then told them what dealer purchased it, they went to him, he gave them a price and it sold again – before it even left my booth.”
Also enjoying a good Rhinebeck were Darwin’s William Woody and Carolinn Pocher of Philadelphia, whose merchandise, described as consisting of “compelling and resonant objects,” has a strong focus on folk art. “Such a show!” said Pocher, “but it’s always a consistently strong show.” She said they sold paintings and a lot of good smalls, such as Nineteenth Century toys and a patriotic carving of a woman. “People seemed to be buying very freely,” said Pocher, adding, “I think Jimi’s enthusiasm spreads to the people who work for him, and they in turn spread it to the people attending the show.”
“From fun house to formal” was the catch phrase at the booth of Joseph Collins, Cobalt, Conn. The fun house aspects were represented by rdf_Descriptions like a large Savin Rock Fun House mask and the formal sensibilities were supplied by a Sinumbra lamp with alabaster base, a rosewood secretaire abattant, circa 1840, with a mahogany interior, and a cherry corner cabinet, circa 1790. Collins said he sold a pair of portraits, bow front chest, Windsor chair, two-drawer stand, checkerboard table, wire plant stand, and “a lot of great smalls.” He said he also sold a couple of more things on Monday from show customers. “The crowd was really enthusiastic,” agreed Collins.
Philip and Kathleen Seibel, Catskill, N.Y., displayed an “honest to goodness” harvest table, circa 1820-1840, measuring 6 feet 2 inches long by 42 inches wide and featuring old red over solid cherry. A hand-turned large wooden bowl and a set of six stenciled fiddle back chairs, as found in original old paint, circa 1830-1860, completed the country tableau. An early Nineteenth Century chimney cupboard that had been taken down to old mustard paint in a hard to find size was on display as well, as was a cast-iron writing arm chair, possibly made in private school, circa 1860-1880. The Seibels, who specialize in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century country antiques, said they were busy all day Saturday with sales up to the last minute. “We sold well,” they said, “including the fiddle back chairs and large wooden bowl, also a green blanket chest, which was bought as a wedding gift. We were very pleased with the show. Thank you, Jimi.”
Such comments are deeply gratifying to promoter Barton. “I’m just elated,” he said. “The dealers make the show, and comments I’ve received say the mixture this year is the best they have ever seen and it’s the most beautiful show they have ever seen.”
While many of the dealers hailed from distant cities and towns, at least Dennis and Valerie Bakoledis of Rhinebeck did not have to cart the commodious two-part Canadian cupboard, circa 1850, very far. In natural finish and red paint, the cupboard held a number of interesting smalls, such as blue transfer ware, a Victorian shell purse, a blue stoneware pitcher and mini coach lights. Nearby was a wicker desk with a center drawer and compartments for letters and topped by a frosted glass beehive candy dish. The Bakoledises also displayed a set of six New York paint decorated chairs, a cast-iron hitching post and railroad signs, a set of four Nineteenth Century brass push up candlesticks, a Federal gilt mirror, circa 1810-20, and beaver gloves and hats.
From Strasbourg, Penn., Robert and Doris Haug of Cedar House Antiques were especially proud of the hooked rugs they had brought, all made in 1920 or before and mounted for display. Motifs included horses and dogs, as well as an unusual round geometric rug. The pair has been in business for 32 years.
“I enjoyed this show when Bill Walter ran it, and Jimi has kept the quality high,” said Priscilla Hyserman, Partridge Run Antiques, Campbellsville, Ky, who was participating in the show for her 22nd year. Describing her interests as “eclectic,” Hyserman brought a buttery cupboard from the southern Tennessee area, 12-inch blue and white spongeware bowls, a Northeastern gathering basket, mid-1800s, and a Schoharie County wooden hayfork. A rocking horse from the late 1800s displayed original stenciling.
Showgoers who sensed watchful gazes in the booth of Joan and Larry Kindler, Whitestone, N.Y., may have been reacting to the eerie penetrating stares of all those pairs of dolls’ eyes. The Kindlers, who specialize in dolls, toys and American folk art, brought a large grouping of Nineteenth Century dolls, including a 24-inch “Covered Wagon” with deep molded eyes and a blue “corset,” a china head doll with green shoes, an 18-inch china head doll from the 1870s in its original blue gown and featuring a long hairdo, a circa 1850s china with all original clothes and a 23-inch brown-eyed “Covered Wagon” with beautiful painted features.
At the May Rhinebeck show for the first time, J.D. Querry, Martinsburgh, Penn., was energetically setting up his booth on Friday, May 23, and looking forward to a weekend of “getting a good draw from the city without the hassle of being in the city.” Concentrating mainly in high-end smalls, Querry said, “People like our stuff,” which included rdf_Descriptions such as an exuberant polychrome tin and wire bird cage in the form of a rooster, circa 1900, glass apothecary jars from the first half of the Nineteenth Century, pewter and stag horn candlesticks, copper and cast-iron cake molds and a variety of decoys. Nautical rdf_Descriptions, too, are among the dealer’s favorites, and Querry was pleased to be showing a pair of Chinese trade paintings he had recently acquired from a Philadelphia collector that had been done in the first half of the Nineteenth Century.
Contacted following the show, Querry had nothing but positive comments. “I did really well,” he said, adding that the weather may have helped attendance.
Claire Dounoucos, Slingerlands, N.Y., brought a metal basket filled with glass fruit, an unusual sponge bowl and a pair of painted pantry boxes. Also, a Henway Silks wooden three-drawer thread box and a pair of white metal garden benches.
Garden enthusiasts always head straight for the booth of Kate Alex, Warner, N.H., who has been participating in Rhinebeck for about 15 years. Alex displayed a Scottish zodiac table, circa 1850, stone urns, a large green garden gate, a French iron wreath and an unusual French étagère made to display natural sponges. Other rdf_Descriptions included a Louis XVI-style pine furniture bedroom set, a copper cocktail table made by Paul Evans, a contemporary artist from New Hope, Penn., and an interesting combination table from 1896 that can converts from a bookcase into a table (if only you can find some other place to temporarily store your books).
Lana Smith, Louisville, Ky., specializes in American folk rdf_Descriptions, textiles and decorative arts. Among the rdf_Descriptions on view at her booth were large and small flax combs, a beaded Iroquois pillow made for the tourist trade with an unusual animal motif, a late Nineteenth Century sawbuck table, pegged and mortised, shooting gallery targets in the forms of a squirrel and duck, a bold pineapple rug flanked by cornucopia from the late Nineteenth Century. Also of interest was a Mennonite hired man’s quilt, circa 1890, from Lancaster, Penn., and a child’s vest and sequins, circa 1890.
Brass heads could converge on the booth of Valarie Gilliland, Morristown, N.J., who brought a French inkwell and stand, circa 1860, letter openers ranging from $85 to $135, Nineteenth Century candlesticks, Victorian tasting forks, “feet clappers” and letter racks. Marriage boots and shoes, traditionally given as wedding anniversary or engagement gifts, are popular, said Gilliland, and she also brought fire dogs, sconces, picture frames, shoe horns and even a circa 1890 bootjack in the form of a beetle. “It was a very good show,” said Gilliland, who added that she sold mostly to new customers. “The was good traffic all day Saturday. No one seemed to be questioning prices,” she said.
At The Dutch House, Claverack, N.Y., one could find a host of country rdf_Descriptions, including a wooden apple dryer, a sling shot, a cutout leg stool, and wooden farm tools, including a washboard, featherbed smoother, scrub board, shovel and apple grader. Metal rdf_Descriptions included trivets, shears and utensils. Several quilts, including a basket and a tulip design, were on view, as well as a collection of enamel spoons in a display case.
An early “Prairie Star” quilt from the Nineteenth Century measuring 76 by 78 inches was the focal point at the booth of Ellin Feld, Garrison, N.Y. In addition, Feld showed a 1920s version of an English Victorian bench, a painting of an Adirondacks scene on a window shade, gold and green floral metal wall planters, a set of ironstone, a unique four-book music stand and Victorian brass hand door knockers.
The words “cottage” and “camp” are truly evocative at this time of year, so it was at the booth of Cottage & Camp, Hudson, N.Y., who brought a large wooden urn from the Nineteenth Century, metal and glass etageres in reed paint, a rustic coffee table, painted pedestals and a large dresser with an oval mirror.
At Brooks Antiques, Frenchtown, N.J., trunks, posters (Buster Brown and Lady Liberty), an old metal locomotive, paint decorated chairs and tramp art were on display. Comprising an especially playful grouping were four circus figures with moving parts, including a seal balancing a clown, a clown in a car, a push cart clown and a bear pushing a clown in a wheelbarrow.
Mary Cardin Quinn, Floral Park, N.Y., a 25-year show veteran, brought an Amish Mennonite braided rug of three overlapping circles and soft colors measuring 29 by 51 inches and a striking Waldoboro-type hooked rug featuring raised surface of florals and scrolls. A 12-tube tin candle mold, punched tin heart-shaped cheese mold, a 13- by 15-inch watercolor theorem on paper of an urn of flowers and a large chestnut bowl found in New Hampshire from about 1850 were also on display, as was a metal hearts mat found in New Hampshire, an iron boot scraper, a small iron peel about 35 inches long and a brass fireplace pan featuring iron handles and copper rivets.
The Wallaces of Wood N’ Things, Lititz, Penn., showcased a child’s blanket chest in original surface, a “Brotherhood Jazz Melody Orchestra” bass drum, a Cutter Studio sign, a Nineteenth Century tiger maple and mahogany foot warmer, a signed work bench, and iron building support stars, along with a rare cherry Hepplewhite vanity with a swivel mirror, two-drawer pine chest and a folk art Canada goose by George Parkes, Berks County, Penn. Part of a large collection of early tools included a harrowing rake, Greenlief and Hazeltine lumber calipers and several brass levels.
Wandering into the booth of Hex Highway Antiques, Hamburg, Penn., was like entering an old-fashioned country store. On display was a blue rice scoop, a bass fiddle metal wire planter, a “No Trespassing” sign, a checkerboard, reverse painted mirror, a Siddalls soap box, glass jars, a work table with grain-painted base, a wooden easel and a Pennsylvania hanging pie safe.
A rusted metal sign proclaiming “Bruceville Road improved by the town of Rosendale and the Works Progress Administration, 1939” greeted visitors at the booth of Dordick & Husted, Woodstock, N.Y. Also on view was a painting of Bannerman’s Island by Ward, a large dollhouse, a mission rocker with straw seat and a large case displaying jewelry and smalls.
Timeworn Treasures, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., lived up to its name by offering a Victorian shelf, a painted shade with a young girl and deer in a woodlands scene, a country wall hanging, a group of Limoges plates, vases and plaques, as well as an artist-signed bowl from Germany, tramp art boxes, a 19-inch Simon and Helbig doll, a Byelo Baby and a Morimara Brothers 18-inch doll, a brass telephone and a Royal Bonn vase painted with irises.
At Piatt Antiques, Contoocook, N.H., a “Live Bait” sign surprised with a three-dimensional fish seeming to leap out from the background. Signed by La Fay, the rustic advertising sign came from Gardner, Mass. An actual photograph of the house accompanied a hooked rug portraying a house. Also on view were a wooden knife box, large cheese basket, a four-level display shelf in wood and original paint, a metal goldfinch, a tall-case clock, missing its pendulum and weights, and, from France, a garden table and stylish chairs and a water jug and basin.
Bob and Ellie Vermillion, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., brought an early Nineteenth Century cobbler’s bench, a Nineteenth century basket with block or potato print decoration, a square splint woven basket with red and green decoration, a Nineteenth Century pine two-door cupboard from New York state with paint scarped to the original blue, square nails and hand-planed wood, a six-panel punched tin pie safe in green paint, circa 1860, found in Ohio and a yellowware bowl with seaweed decorations.
George Harding of Wynnewood, Penn., said he has come to rely on the good crowds at Rhinebeck over the five or six years he has been participating in the show. Harding showcased a large fireplace surround that came out of an old farmhouse in Berks County, Penn., that was torn down. The 7½ -foot-wide surround indicated a “good size fireplace,” said Harding. Harding had also brought an early Nineteenth Century nursing vessel, the precursor to the baby bottle; the metal vessel featured a round metal “nipple” and a slender internal tube that went to the bottom of the container. Splint oak baskets in large, medium and small sizes were offered, as well as early dolls, 1880-1890, along with a carriage of wood and wicker with three wheels and a metal frame, and a primitive doll cradle in old paint. A Queen Anne tavern table, circa 1730-1780, had traces of original black paint on the base and the underside of the top. Found in Connecticut, the table measured 26 inches high with a 21-inch top.
Jenkinstown Antiques, New Paltz, N.Y., carted in three New York State cupboards, including a Federal one-door cupboard, circa 1790, with bracket base and multiple recessed and molded panels, along with a four-door cupboard in dark blue paint. Wallpaper boxes, including one with an Erie Canal scene, were offered, as well as a cloth Punch doll, still life paintings of fruit, a carved wooden eagle and a monumental Kings County, N.Y., Eighteenth Century gumwood kas.
Twenty-year veterans of the Rhinebeck show, Daniel and Karen Olson of Newburgh, N.Y., said the show has been good the past number of years. For this edition they brought an oil on canvas of a young girl with basket from the Boston area, a rare-size Eighteenth Century Connecticut cupboard with dentil molding and a heart-shaped glass “window,” an early goffering iron for pressing collars, an early memorial from 1833 whose design was achieved by pricking paper with a pin, a downspout from Mohawk Valley, N.Y., circa 1825, a secretary from coastal Virginia featuring a bookcase top made from birch wood with yellow pine secondary wood, and a signed water scene, dated 1870 by an obscure folk art painter named Redpath who painted on tin.
For nautical antiques and collectibles, one need only stop in at The Captain’s Quarters, Amherst, Mass. Here, an oil on canvas of the USS Kearsarge painted by H. Loud (American, Nineteenth-Twentieth Century) hung over an early model of the USS Kearsarge inside a glass case. The dealer also offered an early accordion and banjolet, typical of sailors’ musical instruments. Also featured were a French astronomical telescope, a Leningrad globe and an inlay document box. An oil on panel painting by William Matthew Prior (American 1806-1873) titled “Woman with Brown Hair” was signed on the verso.
Victorian rococo revival was front and center at the Rathbun Gallery, Wakefield, R.I., in the form of a pair of cast-iron garden seats with grapes, vine and leaf decoration and garden table with a round unpolished stone top, circa 1870-1880. The chairs were American, the table American or English, and the previous owner assembled the set. Also on view was a pine butter churn stand with original red stain and a removable rounded edge rectangular top, circa 1820-1840, along with a Mennonite crib quilt in a diamond and star pattern from Pennsylvania, circa 1890-1900. Nearby, a painted wooden pull toy with blue wooden wheels, red cart and white horse, circa 1910-1925, pulled a cart lined with 28 unpainted lumber “planks.”
Specializing in American country furniture and accessories, tools, quilts, folk and fine art, Merndale Antiques, New Castle, Maine, had a homey display, including an early wagon filled with a rdf_Descriptions like a cuddly teddy, metal noise makers, and a White Mountain junior ice cream freezer from Nashua, N.H. Among the furniture was a Hepplewhite cherry chest of drawers topped with a Seth Thomas clock.
What was advertised as “the only known pair of relief carved busts by George Beckstead, circa 1950,” grinned in a folksy manner in the whimsical booth of Three Peaks Farm, Ontario, Canada. The folk art theme continued with a rare circa 1935 folk art “putty” frame, a folk art painting of a fox stalking a pheasant, and a circa 1960 carving of a couple with glamour glasses and fedora by Jerome LaChance of Quebec. Also on display was a circa 1900 folky Canada goose ice decoy from Nova Scotia and a circa 1860 transitional chest with early folk paint over earlier red and black paint from Ontario.
At Cabbage, West Taghkanic, N.Y., was a compass, anchor andirons, a paint decorated box and quilts, a faux painted iron-base table, an Eighteenth Century cupboard, a pair of early Staffordshire figures of a man and woman on horseback, a George III Queen Anne wing chair, a Nineteenth Century New England desk in original paint and a Nineteenth Century double brass student lamp.
Prince & Sommer, who specialize in Native American antiques, art, country and paint decorated furniture, among other things, were set up in adjoining spaces. Nancy Prince, Portland, Maine, displayed a two-piece green trellis, an early band box with vibrant wallpaper, a set of four matching paint decorated chairs with original seats, a period Chippendale slant front desk made of birch with pine as the secondary wood and a signed Libby arrowback rocker with original paint.
Next door, Phyllis Sommer, Searsport, Maine, showed a 1920s “sampler” hooked child’s rug, a decorative mid-Twentieth Century mirror and paint decorated two-drawer desk with cloverleaf chamfered legs.
Early toys at the booth of Paul Coon Antiques, Penn Yan, N.Y., included a fire engine pulled by two black horses; two others, a hose truck in yellow pulled by two black horses and a three-horse (two black and one white) pumper with driver were also offered. A converted poplar bookcase, circa 1875, was on a base of a later date. A four-piece sterling silver tea service by Fisher Silversmiths of New York and New Jersey with a silver plate tray, a game board and a pine storage chest from Pennsylvania from about mid-Nineteenth Century were offered as well.
A graphic carnival game wheel – a spinning arrow landing on the lucky domino wins – drew visitors’ attention at the booth of Richard Suydam, Lahaska, Penn. Suydam’s eclectic display also included an herb grinder, an Imari lamp, a swing leg harvest table, a sampler, a collection of metal building banks, a pack basket with original harness and a strawberry hooked rug.
Basking for a moment in the afterglow of the show, Barton said one of the most gratifying comments he heard during the two days was, “Jimi, this is the old Rhinebeck again.” An enthusiastic buying frenzy for two full days is no small success, but he and Garrett are already getting ready for a day of Rhinebeck Summer Magic on July 26 and the fall show October 11-12.
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