Published: October 14, 2003
– Records are made to be broken, and every antiques show manager looks forward to seeing attendance hit a new high. “We did it, our best show ever,” Howard Graff reported on Monday, the day after the Vermont Antiques Dealers’ Association Antiques Show closed on Sunday, September 28. “We worked hard this year on promoting the show, with lots of poster distribution and advertising, including a banner across the town’s busy Main Street,” he said, adding, “The rain on Sunday was also a help as it gave people an interesting place to go.”
On a clear day, Manchester Center is a hive of activity, with streets crowded with shoppers popping in and out of the outlets such as Orvis, Brooks Brothers and Ralph Lauren. That Sunday parking spaces around town were ample and cash registers were not ringing.
Part of the preshow promotion that falls into the lap of Howard Graff is the distribution of posters and show cards to some of the inns and bed and breakfasts in the area. “I thought I was about done when I remembered I had not been to the Windham Hill Inn in West Townshend, a nice spot but not on my beaten path,” he said. It was done, however, and it paid off well. “A young couple came into the show and made several purchases, including something from me, and in the course of conversation I learned they had been at the Windham, saw the poster, and picked up a show card,” Howard said. He noted, “This was the first antiques show they had ever attended and they bought both furniture and smalls.”
Dorset, Vt., dealer Marie Miller is most comfortable at this show for two very good reasons. “I live just down the road and could almost walk here,” she said, and she also sells well. In addition to a selection of quilts, she sold a tiger maple stand, a painted apothecary, a green painted bucket bench and a hanging wall cupboard. Marie takes part in about a dozen shows per year, but none closer to home than Hunter Park in Manchester Center.
“We sometimes have two cases of smalls, and they generally sell well,” Stephen Corrigan of Stephen-Douglas, Rockingham, Vt., said. That was not the case at VADA, however, as sales included a Vermont portrait by Thomas Ware, an early armchair, a Pembroke table, a couple of checkerboards, a watercolor of Aurora and a group of schoolgirl watercolors.
Michael and Lucinda Seward of Pittsford, Vt., were in the process of giving their booth a new look on Sunday morning after selling just about everything that hung on the walls. The second version was a real change from the three handsome blue resist Chinese bed covers that initially took up a great deal of space.
Drawing lots of attention was a collection of graduated Pitkins of East Hartford, Conn., origin. “I was able to purchase this collection of bottles just recently,” Ron Chambers of Higganum, Conn., said, “but I have known about it for a long time.” He said that a collector had spent 30 years forming the collection and that he was selling it as one lot. “I knew I could not break up a collection that took 30 years to put together,” Ron said.
Allan Katz Americana of Woodbridge, Conn., always has a crisp looking booth, and the VADA showing followed suit. A handsome carved and painted carousel horse, signed “A. Saget, Canadian,” circa 1840, with the original paint, dominated the left side wall of the booth and was an immediate attention getter for those entering the show. A New England tall-case clock, Rumford, Maine, retained the original paint decoration and wooden works. It was circa 1825. An early trade sign for an eye doctor took up most of the right wall, and two early sleds had the original decoration.
A Chippendale serpentine chest from Portsmouth, N.H., in mahogany, circa 1780-85, was shown by Judd Gregory of Dorset, Vt. The piece was interesting with canted corners on the top, case and feet. A painted step back cupboard, circa 1870, was probably of New York State origin and it had two plain doors on the top, and two paneled doors on the lower section. A portrait in the manner of Micah Williams showed a New Jersey gentleman, circa 1835.
“The show was good for us,” Paul Scott said as Cheryl listed the furniture and other objects sold, including a Queen Anne drop leaf table, American, circa 1760, in maple, and a watercolor showing an Indian encampment. The Hillsborough, N.H., couple also sold a Hepplewhite drop leaf table in bird’s-eye maple, a grouping of four painted fishing bobbins, a painted bucket, a wooden sconce and three cast-iron frogs that Paul wanted to show upside down, but Cheryl said “no.”
A nice set of six arrow back Windsor side chairs in black paint with yellow striping, New England, circa 1800, was lined up across the front of the booth of Gloria Lonergan of Mendham, N.J. Other furniture included a drop leaf table in birch with red base, Pembroke style, dating from the Nineteenth Century. It measured 48 inches long and 46 inches wide when both leaves were open. Among the wall hangings was a colorful Parcheesi board.
At the close of opening day the booth of Pine Tree Hill Antiques, Wilmington, Vt., was dotted with empty nails, a good indication that buyers had found things to purchase. “At our peak time we were doing about 25 shows per year, and now this in the only one we do,” Steve Gerben said. He also indicated that this might be the last time in Manchester, as their home is on the market and they are planning to spend summers in Maine and winters where it is warm. “My back is wearing out,” Steve said, “a souvenir of the business.” Part of the inventory shown was from his personal collection and sales included a good number of painted signs, a sled, a couple of game boards, copper finial with weathervane, carved wooden figures and a number of small painted objects. A few checkerboards were left for the Sunday shoppers, as was a folky red and yellow painted birdhouse, hooked rug with oval design and a wooden shovel painted old blue.
While not attending to some of the duties of running a show, Howard Graff sold from his booth a small carpenter’s work bench, two ogee mirrors, a hat form, and from his collection of iron, a striker, tray and washboard.
Just down the aisle Thomas Longacre of Marlborough, N.H., was also experiencing some strong sales. “It has been great,” he said, noting that he sold his best lot, a full rig of eight plover decoys from Martha’s Vineyard. In addition he sold four other bird carvings, a server in old red, a child’s table with red painted surface, a ship’s figurehead of a young woman, a three-tiered stand, zinc finial, trade sign advertising a cider mill and a theorem. And at that point there were still four hours to go until closing.
Chambers & Stauble of Westford, Mass., and Wiscasset, Maine, shared a booth and it was filled to capacity. “I like to cram a booth with lots of stuff, while Pat likes to keep it more simple,” Shirley Chambers said, adding, “There is little question which end of the booth is mine.” Furniture included an American Chippendale six-drawer tall chest in maple, a Chippendale slant front desk, circa late 1700s, a yellow painted dressing table, two tiers, with painted floral decoration. Several small apothecary chests were shown, a number of painted clock faces hung on the walls and a soldier whirligig of large size sported a pink coat.
It was across the board selling for Jan and John Maggs of Conway, Mass. “We have had a very good show,” John said on Sunday morning as the show opened, with sales of silver, jewelry, ceramics, hearth equipment and a open top cupboard with red painted surface.
In between telling a few of his latest jokes (All good ones, especially the one about the cab driver), Tommy Thompson of Northfield, N.H., had been having a good show selling a number of painted trade signs, a large white painted farm table from Vermont, yellowware, an oil painting of sheep in a pasture, stone fruit and a set of 12 pieces of rabbit ware.
Ellen Katona and Bob Lutz of Greenwich, N.J., offered a rope bed with acorn finials, circa 1840, probably Pennsylvania Amish; an Empire chest in the original paint decoration, circa 1840-50, probably Pennsylvania; and several doorstops including a Mammy, parrot, frog, house, ship, dog and horse.
The entrance to the Hunter Park Pavilion brings visitors to one end of the show, with the greater part of the exhibitors off to the left. At the end of the first aisle was a splash of color created by Victor Weinblatt of South Hadley, Mass. Colorful game boards, signs and painted furniture were neatly displayed, and many were sold causing Victor to say, “I am a very happy camper.” As a first-time exhibitor at VADA, he noted, “This is a very dealer friendly show and I am impressed by the well-informed audience it draws.” And apparently it drew people who liked his display for he sold a Swedish drop leaf table with three drawers across the front, a circa 1884 hanging post office, a gear-form mirror in red and black paint, a room-size hooked rug, chocolate mold, Parcheesi board and a number of signs including ones that read “Guests register here,” “Must Wear Goggles” and “Home of Donuts.”
Marc Witus from Gladstone, N.J., was also a first-time exhibitors at Manchester and he commented on the fine presentation by the dealers there and said, “Howard certainly does a good job running this show.” His sales were good, including a number of things from his cases and a piece of lighting. Liberty Hill Antiques of Reading, Vt., offered a workbench and wall hanging tool cabinet that belonged to William Szmejkal, a piano maker for Steinway & Sons. The collection was being sold as one lot and included a selection of rare Stanley planes.
A grain painted blanket chest from Lancaster County, Penn., stippling on both the front and sides, resting on black painted turned legs, was among the objects sold from the booth of Mary Carden Quinn, Floral Park, N.Y. Other sales included a set of juggler clubs in paint, a hooked rug, fire bag, boot scrapper, bench in mustard paint, red sugar bucket and pig doorstop.
For close to ten years now, Red Horse Antiques of Bridgewater, Vt., has exhibited at the VADA Show with success. This year was no exception. “We have done very well,” Jacques Lilly said. “We sold the nicest wall shelf we have ever owned, as well as a painted red chest, a pair of French doors with blue surface from an armoire, a cupboard with mustard painted surface and several pieces for the garden,” he added. A tall stoddle stone from England was sold early the first day, only to be replaced by a shorter one for the Sunday audience. Jacques mentioned the time when he was able to buy quantities of these stones in England and have them shipped over. “We brought in 50 of them at one time,” he said, “but things changed when Andrew Lloyd Webber got into the picture.” It seems that he purchased a great number of them and lined both sides of his quarter-mile long driveway with them. “From that time on everyone knew about stoddle stones and the market changed,” Jacques said.
“My co-chair for the show, Elizabeth Harley, and I are already thinking about next year and so far we have not heard from a single dealer who has decided not to return. That may happen, but we will still be 76-dealers strong when VADA celebrates its 30th year on September 25-26. So mark the date,” Howard Graff said. A good idea.
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