Published: January 24, 2023
Review & Photos by Madelia Hickman Ring
WASHINGTON DC — The last time the Washington Antiques Show took place was in 2020, before the pandemic put a pause on life as we knew it. It was with joy that the show — now in its 68th year — returned to its longtime home at the Katzen Arts Center on the campus of American University, January 13-15, with 41 dealers, 13 of which had never done the show. A loan exhibition featured the impact and legacy of horticulturalist, gardener, philanthropist and art collector, Rachel “Bunny” Lambert Mellon (1910-2014) and the show featured numerous programs around the show’s theme, “Curating from Classic to Contemporary.”
“The theme was intentional,” said Sarah Brennan McKenna, one of the show’s two co-chairs. “Darryl [Muller, her fellow co-chair] and I wanted it to reflect our own experience and what our friends have experienced. This year, it was all about how to empower and encourage young collectors to incorporate things into their houses. It was about educating.”
To reinforce the theme, the co-chairs encouraged dealers — particularly the newer ones — to bring more contemporary objects. “Dealers took more risks,” she said. “They mixed their booths with period and modern or contemporary things more than they ever have, which really helped.”
“It’s been a ten-year effort, a conscious one, to get younger people involved. We’ve done that through social media, and our Young Collectors committee had events leading up to the show that paid off. We also came up with a marketing plan and a weekly promotion schedule. Next year, we will do more spotlights on the dealers themselves,” McKenna added.
Show manager, Karen DiSaia, was able to catch her breath and speak with Antiques and The Arts Weekly the morning of the show’s last day.
“I felt like the old energy was back. Traffic has been phenomenal. We did three lectures yesterday and are doing one today — all have been basically sold out. It feels so good to be somewhere and everyone was upbeat; the positive attitude from the dealers creates positivity for everyone. The committee has done a fabulous job of getting their friends and friends of friends to come. I think what we did — we listened to the show committee and experimented with how we presented the show, and it brought so many more young people than I ever recall from previous shows.
“I was really pleased at how integrated and lovely it was, and that it wasn’t just one period of stuff — we had everything from the 1700s to the 1960s. It was about quality and character. People were mixing things, which I love. I had many, many people tell me how much they loved the show and thought it was refreshed and energetic.”
Boyd’s Antiques, founded in 1959 by Irvin and Dolores Boyd, has been exhibiting at the Washington Antiques Show for 50 years, now under the direction of their daughter, Priscilla Boyd Angelos. We caught up with Boyd Angelos a day or so after the show closed as she was running between house calls and her shop.
“I remember doing the show with my parents when it was at the Omni Shoreham. I never thought I’d still be doing it, but I love the show, it’s the only one I do. I can’t say enough good things about it and the committee, who bring us tons of people, and the right people. Half of my sales on opening night were to buyers under 45 [years of age]. I’ve got follow-ups to make and loyal customers who support me, as does the committee.”
Qualifying it as a “very successful show,” the longtime dealer shared she sold across the board, fine art, lamps, “tons of smalls — silver, canton and brass,” and eight pieces of furniture, both large and small.
New exhibitors included Alan Christopher Antiques (Spartansburg, S.C.), the Ann Parke Collection (Darien, Conn), Ericsson Street Antiques (Rochester, N.Y.), Firehouse Antiques (Galena, Md.), Jayne Thompson Antiques (Harrodsburg, Ky.), Jonathan Trace (Portsmouth, N.H.), Kruggel Antiques (Rochester, N.Y.), Lotus Gallery (Austin, Texas), Michael Hall Antiques (Nashville, Tenn.), Please and Plenty (Washington DC), Rose & Harper (North Hampton, N.H.), Shaia Oriental Rugs of Williamsburg (Williamsburg, Va.), Somerset Antiques (Leesburg, Va.) and Trinity House Paintings (Chicago, New York City, London & The Cotswolds).
Not only was it the first Washington Antiques Show RJ Ruble has been at, but it was the first antiques show the Rochester dealer had ever done. Ruble has been a collector of English, Chinese export and Japanese ceramics for years but found himself with time during the pandemic and thought he would try his hand at dealing, which he does under the name, Ericsson Street Antiques.
“It went extremely well and was a wonderful show to be in, a remarkably positive experience. I have been a collector of Japanese transferware called igezara, which ihe said s relatively unknown and was made from about 1890-1910, when Japan industrialized. It can be quite lovely and relatively inexpensive. I was very happy to convince several visitors to take a serious look at it and, in some cases, to buy. I also sold Chinese export porcelain and British ceramics, something from every category.”
The Ann Parke Collection’s booth was situated on the third floor of the venue. Sheryl Dunleavy was enthusiastic in her feedback, which she shared by email after the show.
“I was a first timer at the show, and I am truly impressed. Most importantly, the shoppers and visitors were incredibly warm and interested in what we had to offer; we had great conversations all weekend long! The board did an amazing job with programming — all of it looked so interesting — and I suspect those programs brought people in. I was particularly excited by all of the young collectors who attended — enjoying Jazz Night on Saturday as well as the waffles and mimosas Sunday morning. The show also had plenty of support for the vendors — from a great dinner on move-in night to a stocked lounge throughout, and plenty of porters, too. It was a great experience all around and, on a personal level, the show was very successful for our business.”
Dunleavy reported selling a favorite painting titled “Morning Field Trial,” two Delphin Massier majolica jardinieres, a Scandinavian one-drawer table as well as several Staffordshire dogs.
Dunleavy’s neighbor, Enrique “Ricky” Goytizolo and Georgian Manor Antiques, said he was doing the show for the second time and made sales every day.
“We sold lots of things. I am happy to say these were mostly furniture. It is unusual to sell so many pieces of furniture, but also some accessories, including a large mirror, a candelabra, silver. I had 13 or 14 sales, all but one were to new people. Everyone really complimented the booth and wants to see me next year.”
Josh Hildreth with Peace & Plenty shared their feedback via email: “This was our second antiques show ever. Our primary objective for wanting to do this show was to promote our new shop that will be opening in Georgetown. I have attended this show for many years and observed more younger attendees and buyers than I have seen in the past. Traffic was very steady thanks in part to wonderful planning and events that produced a steady stream of visitors. We saw both new and familiar faces; our two top sales were from previous buyers. It was a great experience, and we will be back.”
“Our assortment was decidedly eclectic ranging from Eighteenth through Twentieth Century. We chose to populate the booth with pieces that were both easily usable and had a decorative foot stepped forward.
“We credit Instagram to our largest and fastest sale — a pair of late Nineteenth/Twentieth Century wonderful carved wood William Kent-style console tables that sold for $17,000 for the pair. The buyer was someone who has shopped with us before. A few of our other sales included a beautiful Nineteenth Century French Directoire period desk for $5,500 to a charming young couple, an exceptional circa 1930 set of French nesting tables by Maxine Old for $4,200; and a set of six Nineteenth Century Creil et Montereau plates with faux bois rims and puce painted portraits that sold for $1,280 to a local couple who have attended the show for many years.”
Returning to the show after a hiatus were both R.M. Worth Antiques (Chadds Ford, Penn.) and Robert Freitas American Antiques & Decorative Arts (Stonington, Conn.). Worth showed off a portrait of a gentleman done by William Matthew Prior (American, 1806-1873) and an inlaid Eighteenth Century field medical box.
Among many wonderful pieces with Freitas were a painting of Gloucester Harbor by Jane Peterson (American, 1876-1965), a carved sailor figure he recently reacquired, and, new to him, a Chippendale chest on chest from the Chandler family of Massachusetts.
The first booth inside the show’s entrance belongs to Taylor Thistlethwaite, Thistlethwaite Americana.
“Washington is always the show I look at to start off the New Year,” Thistlethwaite said. “We had tons of interest and I sold well. I had some great conversations and made new connections.” The Middleburg, Va., dealer noted sales of a large English painting, an 1880s English marble baking table, a George Jones majolica jardiniere, a group of three glass signs and a reticulated yellowware basket, among others.
Thistlethwaite’s neighbor, Ron and Joyce Bassin of A Bird In Hand Antiques, also reported a good show despite not selling any of the Grenfell mats that he considers the “bread and butter” of their business. Bassin said he noticed a little hesitancy on some of the higher priced things but made several sales in the four-figure range, to both new and existing clients.
“I don’t know anyone who was disappointed. We sold lots of stuff — a total of 29 things, which is a lot. We sold two really good paintings, some major decoys and lots of folk art.”
“It was the best Washington Antiques show ever,” enthused Paul Vandekar, who said the show’s clientele had been very enthusiastic and sophisticated. “Several years ago, the committee made a concerted effort to get younger people involved; they’ve built on it, and it really shows.” During the show, he gave a lecture on sailor’s woolwork pictures, or “woolies,” and after the show he said he sold about half a dozen of them, as well as some Chinese export porcelain, a “wonderful” butterfly basket and stand, some Delft, and some Fornasetti pieces to an architect.
Bruce Emond was another dealer who thought the edition might have been the best Washington show he’s ever done.
“We had a lot of sales. The motive is to sell to new people; we sold to new people, for sure, and to young people, too. I sold a lot of garden stuff…who would’ve ever thought you could sell all that [garden stuff] in January! There was real enthusiasm and people who had fresh stuff with realistic prices seemed to do really well.”
“Not only was it our best Washington DC show ever but it was our best show in decades. Friday was unbelievable and we’ve never had a Saturday like that,” raved Tim Brennan, Period to Mod Antiques & Design. “We sold right across the board. We don’t sell much English furniture but sold a really fine Georgian chest, an eagle weathervane, a French Empire mirror, a Louis XV buffet as well as our usual: namely Midcentury Modern. We had great Kai Kristiansen rosewood chairs, a Swedish walnut “contour” lounge chair. On opening night, we sold to a former committee member a wall sized map of Paris that everyone loved.”
“It was like a new show; there’s a really nice mix of Midcentury Modern and period [pieces] — so many people said ‘I never knew this show existed!’ Our established clients at the show are mostly designers and committee members but the list of dealers and collectors and ‘civilians’ that we met for the first time outstripped every other year. It’s about price and the mix — we’re really eclectic and all of our sales were for $5,000 or less.”
Ann Wilbanks, Find Weatherly, was also upbeat in her assessment of the show.
“We’ve done the show for about eight years and had great sales [at this one], including antique strap iron urns, an 1850 English jockey scale, an early Nineteenth Century Irish mirror, a Thomas Willis “silky” yacht portrait, a 1911 chart and several textiles. All of the sales were to new customers from DC, Maryland and Virginia, but the pieces were headed to Ireland and Nantucket, as well as area homes and farms. The crowd felt smaller to me than in past years, especially on Friday. However, the people who came were avid shoppers. The show committee is outstanding and sets this show apart from all others we do. The vibe among visitors and dealers was overwhelmingly ‘So glad to have the show back live after the Covid interruption since 2020!’”
Jasmine Doussiere, Silver Art by D&R was pleased to be back at the show, saying they love the show and the location and that it was a good show for them. She said they sold two pairs of cassolettes, in gilt and patinated bronze, an Empire silver sauce boat, and an antique French silver and crystal jardiniere and surtout, among other silver items.
“It takes many hands, as we say,” said longtime board member, Hannah Cox, who was gratified to hear of all the compliments the board received from exhibitors. “After not being there for two years, I think it was great fun for everyone to just being back together, seeing the pretty things and shopping; it had a wonderful buzz and feeling. We thought it was a strong show and we’re very pleased to see the dealers doing so well. We’re always grateful for the support of our sponsors and our charities. And you know, we’ve hit the ground running for next year and already have several pieces of the puzzle in place. Hillwood is doing the loan exhibition and Lady Henrietta Spencer Churchill will be one of the keynote speakers.”
The 2024 Washington Antiques Show will take place January 12-14, with an opening night preview party on January 11. For more information, www.washingtonwintershow.org.
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