Published: September 6, 2011
Valdemar F. “Val” Jacobsen died on July 13, 2011. Born on April 18, 1930, he grew up in West Nyack, N.Y., and was an authority on American antiques, exhibiting in antiques shows across the country, including such prestigious events as the Washington and East Side shows.
He is survived by his wife, Virginia Potter Jacobsen; three daughters and their spouses, Nancy and Stuart Patterson, Susan and John Kean and Cindy and Rick Leaman; and his grandchildren, Alden, Maddy, Sam, Jake, Nicholas, John, Bailey, and Lizzie.
The Huntington Historical Society honored him in 2009 at its “Evening of Wine Under the Stars” gala in recognition of his many accomplishments and contributions in the field of American decorative arts and Long Island history, his service to the Huntington community, as well as his service as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Huntington Historical Society.
“Val was a great friend to the society in all the years that he was doing business in Huntington and Cold Spring Harbor. He not only volunteered his time, doing appraisals for us and offering advice, he also donated a number of local artifacts, including paintings, his collection of books&” said Robert “Toby” Kissam, the society’s executive coordinator.
According to the society’s website, Jacobsen had been a mainstay of the Huntington community for more than 50 years after marrying his St Lawrence College sweetheart and native Huntingtonian Virginia “Ginna” Potter. Val and Ginna have been proud and involved members of the Huntington community, raising their three daughters here and participating in numerous school and charitable activities.
His nationally prominent reputation as a dealer in American furniture and antiques began during his college years and ultimately led to the shop he designed and built on the corner of Shore Road and 25A in Cold Spring Harbor, a site formerly known as Bedlam Corner. Val’s love of antiques and their history were at the core of his business and he enthusiastically shared his passion with everyone with whom he came into contact. He developed an early interest in Long Island history and objects and generously shared his knowledge and collection.
In the early 2000s, the Jacobsens donated an important still life painting by well-known Long Island artist William Davis to the Huntington Historical Society. The painting was placed on display at the Visitors/Exhibit Center in the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Building on Main Street.
Val’s career as a prominent antiques dealer took him across the country to participate in major antiques shows from Houston to Minneapolis, Washington, D.C., to Philadelphia and the East Side Settlement House Park Avenue Antique Show in New York City.
Besides trading in antiques, he was a talented cabinetmaker/woodworker, having apprenticed to one in high school, and he found success crafting coffee tables from old bellows. He helped defray his college expenses by making and selling these tables. Reportedly, one of his customers was the president of St Lawrence College at the time. He also sold 11 tables at $110 each at a New York City antiques show to pay for his honeymoon in Bermuda in 1955. At the 2009 gala in his honor, a special cake was served that was made to resemble a bellows.
In his first shop in Huntington, Jacobsen had a cabinetmaking shop in the garage, his antiques shop on the main level and the family lived on the second floor. In an article in Newsday last month, his family recalled Val was always selling items from their house in the early days, but went so far as to sell the family’s antique bed just before his wife came home from the hospital with their firstborn daughter.
Jacobsen was well known for Eighteenth Century American furniture, and among his memorable sales was a pair of Eighteenth Century andirons, signed by the maker, along with a Queen Anne candle-stand to the White House.
American furniture specialist Dean Failey first met Val in 1971 and the two shared a decades-long friendship, marked by well-versed discussions on furniture and Long Island decorative arts, but also such personal highlights as playing tennis and a long tradition of the two men and their wives watching US Open games together in Flushing Meadows.
“He was very generous with his information and we continued our friendship over a great many years,” Failey said.
A memorial service was conducted in August at St Johns and the church was packed with a standing-room-only crowd.
Donations in Val’s name may be made to the Society of St Johnland, 395 Sunken Meadow Road, Kings Park NY 11754 or St John’s Episcopal Church 1670 Route 25A, Cold Spring Harbor NY 11724.
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