Published: July 2, 2019
Review and photos by Rick Russack
BROOKFIELD, MASS. – The only country things missing from the June 15 Walker Homestead Country Antiques and Primitive Goods show were Hank Williams and Kitty Wells. The 40 dealers, hand-picked by Kris Casucci and her husband, Paul, all specialize in country Americana. A few of the dealers sell craft items, but all with the “look.” The show is conducted on the grounds of the Casuccis’ 1698 home, which is the location of their shop that also deals in the early material. It’s a comfortable, informal show, with a large dog strolling around, keeping track of the goings-on and seeing if anyone might have a piece of a donut that they don’t need. It seems that nearly everyone knows everyone else, but there are new faces, possibly attracted by Facebook. The show is promoted on the social media platform, with photos taken during setup to show buyers what is really there.
There’s little formal furniture but plenty of stoneware, redware, treen, painted furniture, painted boxes, some weathervanes and folk art, hooked rugs, woven coverlets, paintings, cloth dolls, samplers and gourds that have been turned into just about everything. Prices are reasonable, with hundreds of genuinely old items priced under $100 and many under $50. It wasn’t surprising that the parking lot was full and that shortly after the show opened, buyers were hauling purchases to their cars. “Country” is alive and well.
Brookfield is about ten miles north of Sturbridge. You’ll know you’re in the country, as the signs directing visitors lead to a short dirt road. The town was settled around 1660, but in about 1675, King Phillip’s War, a bloody war between angry Native Americans and the British colonists, reached the isolated town, and all buildings but the garrison house were burned. Many Indians and colonists were killed. For the next 12 years, the town was abandoned, but eventually settlers returned. (Search on Google for the town and you’ll also read about an illicit affair in 1778 that resulted in murder and the execution of the four murderers, including the victim’s pregnant wife, who – as the story goes – had an affair with a 17-year-old member of the Continental army, who was also among those executed.)
Many of the dealers have done the show since Casucci took over about nine years ago. A pair of newer dealers, doing the show for second time, Steve and Lorraine German, Mad River Antiques, North Granby, Conn., known for offering high-quality stoneware, were asked if this show brought them new customers. Steve said, “It does. The show draws from the Adirondack region, and we sold last year to someone from Plattsburgh, N.Y. These are people who probably never get to shows in Connecticut or other areas where we usually exhibit. That makes it worthwhile for us. We met people who we haven’t seen before. And it’s not an expensive show to do.”
Stoneware collectors had numerous pieces from which to choose, brought by numerous dealers. Prices varied widely, depending on age and condition. Mad River had pieces priced to $1,500. Pantry Box Antiques, Stafford Springs, Conn., had several pieces; Charlie Guinipero had several pieces; and Kris Casucci had a large selection in the 1698 house.
There was early country furniture in many booths. Hometown Antiques, West Brookfield, Mass., had a dry sink priced at $795; Rick Fuller, South Royalton, Vt., brought an early gateleg table with high-backed chairs; John Melby, Eastport, Maine, showed a blanket chest in old red paint priced at $350; and a Hudson River Valley corner cupboard, circa 1780. Wigwam Hill Antiques displayed a circa 1720 Boston gateleg table, with repairs, priced at $595. There was much more.
Buyers had a wide choice of early textiles. John Melby had a group of blue and white woven coverlets, all priced under $350. Handmade “pockets” of old textiles were priced between $6 and $10 by Jo-Ann Helbig, Leyden, Mass. Kelz Mountain Antiques, Woodbury, Conn., brought a sampler with a variety of stitches and priced it at $345. The Cargill Collection, White River Junction, Vt., offered a colorful crewel-work spread, probably from the Colonial Revival period, for which the asking price was $275.
Ian McKelvey, South Windham, Conn., who partners with Casucci in the Flying Pig Antiques Center in Westmoreland, N.H., and the Flying Pig Auctions, always has an interesting and varied assortment of “stuff.” Picking a favorite is always tricky, but this year’s choice would have been a double-sided tavern sign, Boy on a Dolphin, of indeterminate age. The lettering and the figure of a long-haired boy astride a dolphin were carved, not painted. McKelvey wondered if the sign had something to do with the Sophia Lauren and Alan Ladd movie of that name, released in 1957. Regardless, it was attractive and was priced at $350. He also had one of the few large pieces of formal furniture; a large Nineteenth Century Pennsylvania corner cupboard priced at $695. His booth had an exceptional white English creamware urn with a pierced cover and elaborate handles, which was priced at $395.
A few days after the sale, Kris Casucci said, “The weather was perfect this year, and the dealer displays looked good. My favorite display was at the end of the main aisle, with the huge mock orange in bloom as a backdrop. The attendance remains strong, just about where it’s been for the last few years. We’re using Facebook and post lots of photos we take during setup. It works for us but gets a different demographic than Instagram probably would. So, that’s next. It was nice to see so much stuff being carted out by buyers shortly after the show opened.” Acoustic country music was supplied by Grade “A” Fancy, Worcester, Mass. If you like early country music of the “honky tonk” era, you’ll enjoy listening to this group. The next show will be on September 28, at the same location.
For information, 508-867-4466 or www.walkerhomestead.com/antiques-show.html.
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