Published: December 23, 2013
By: W.A. Demers
OLD GREENWICH, CONN. — The second annual Greenwich Winter Antiques Show, a primary fundraiser for the Greenwich Historical Society, once again meshed nicely with the society’s Antiquarius 2013 holiday events program, filling the Civic Center with 42 exhibitors displaying fine art, antiques, estate and designer jewelry for one evening and two days.
Under the management of Barn Star Productions’ Frank Gaglio, the festivities began with a gala preview party on December 6, an energetic ticketed event that served up not only signature cocktails and festive hors d’oeuvres, but entertainment in the form of a Polo Lounge show with Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe (in the form of actor/musicians Jesse Posa and Erika Smith). A highlight of the show was when Gaglio stepped up to the mic and with very little coaching from “Old Blue Eyes” belted out a convincing rendition of “Summer Wind.” “Tony Bennett is in the room,” marveled the ersatz Sinatra.
There was, in fact, a fun dose of Rat Pack swagger in the evening’s program. With the theme “Meet me at the Beverly Hills Hotel: 90210 meets 06830,” the usually staid entrance to the center was done up in green stripes and flamingo pink, and a vintage red and white convertible was parked outside to greet and tease show attendees. While the show décor was reminiscent of the golden age of Hollywood, the weather on Friday evening was pure Fairfield-County-Conn.-in-early-December, featuring a cold, heavy downpour that arrived, thankfully, after most had entered the center. Many a festive attendee got the chance to wade through a flooded parking lot later that evening to retrieve their ride.
“We were very pleased by the efforts of Barn Star Productions and the Greenwich Historical Society to put on the show,” said Tim Stevenson, co-owner of Carlson and Stevenson Antiques, Manchester Center, Vt., “Both groups brought outstanding customers to the show. We sold well right to the last minute, literally.”
“I was very pleased with the show,” echoed Jeff Bridgman, dealer in Americana and historical US flags. “While attendance wasn’t massive, it was good and the buyers were serious. That’s what you get with a Greenwich crowd and I was glad I decided to return. Frank Gaglio did a wonderful job of keeping everything organized, clean, quick and easy. He is an accommodating promoter who makes it very easy to do business at an event.”
As usual, opening night events are a chance for folks to preview the goodies, snapping up hors d’oeuvres and cocktails rather than art and antiques. Still, both the society and show management were thrilled by the turnout, some 400 patrons, according to the society’s development director Anne Bradner, and “there was some business taking place,” said Barn Star’s Gaglio.
Some people crowded the aisles in the main room, some strolled and chatted in the corridors leading in either direction to annex areas, while some sat on the stairs of stage to eat and talk. That made it tough for Glen Leroux, the Midcentury Modern dealer from Westport, Conn., whose tasteful display on the stage included a Robsjohn-Gibbings table from the 1940s with six white-upholstered chairs, as well as pieces by Milo Baughman, circa 1960s, and a MasterCraft rolling cart and Robert Sonneman multi-head tulip lamps.
Also set up on the stage was Jill Frankel, owner of Lawrence Farms Antiques. The Chappaqua, N.Y., dealer managed to record some sales at the Friday night preview party, as well as both Saturday and Sunday. Some of her sales included a circa 1920 garden ornament, hen and chick figural group and ceramics, including French faience and majolica. “There was a lot of interest in a late Nineteenth/early Twentieth Century wine tasting table from France, as well a Louis Philippe gilded mirror with original glass,” said Frankel. “In general, people seemed very pleased with the variety and fine quality of the dealers in the show.” In addition to the wonderful wine tasting table, whose top drops down for storage when not in use, other interesting pieces seen here included a commode from the 1930s with burled wood drawer fronts, original hardware and original marble top.
Back to midcentury, high design was also on view in Ed and Betty Koren’s booth. Their business, Bridges Over Time, is based in Walden, N.Y., and they combined compelling Modern fine art with furnishings and decorative pieces. Among 13 paintings the couple acquired from the Chrysler Museum collection was a turbulent 1962 work titled “Vortex,” an Expressionist painting by New York artist Mario Garcia (b 1927) and a Cubist oil or acrylic on canvas by the noted Italian artist Luigi Campanelli. These could all be admired in comfortable seating that included a pair of Tommy Parzinger chairs from the 1940s and a same period Hollywood regency sofa in pale green velvet.
Fine art was on offer by nearly a half dozen dealers, with standouts noted in the booth of the Cooley Gallery, Old Lyme, Conn. Gallery owner Jeff Cooley brought a couple of wholly different yet representative works by American artist Guy C. Wiggins (1883–1962), including one of his iconic snowy streetscapes, “Winter Along Central Park,” oil on canvas, 30 by 25 inches, and a marine scene, “Mystic Harbor,” oil on canvas, 20 by 24 inches. Also on view was a woodlands winter scene by Walter Launt Palmer (1854–1932), titled “Sunlight and Shadows,” an oil on board, 17 by 13 inches. “I sold two great Cos Cob pictures I had there, a Hassam etching and an Ochtman oil,” said Cooley afterwards. “Also, a nice sporting watercolor by Chet Reneson.”
A spectacular British fireplace fender, circa 1850, was a choice piece at hearth specialist J. Gallagher, North Norwich, N.Y. With a replaced leather seat, the fender gleamed in front of the showcase fireplace the dealer had set up in the booth. Along with the stock-in-trade staples of gold classical andirons, fireplace tools, tool holders, jamb hooks, coal hods and the like was a brass log holder, circa 1830–40, that was both reticulated and engraved. And non-hearth items included a wonderful camphorwood chest, all dovetailed and with brass mounts, and a cherry transitional chest with simulated drawers on top, circa 1850.
New York City dealer Marion Harris can always be counted on to surprise and delight collectors with a fanciful selection of interesting folk art that blends with science or architecture. For this show, she set up a display on one wall of her booth comprising “crystallography models,” didactic scientific aids used throughout Europe in the 1800s by geologists, mineralogists, scientists and scholars. Angular and likely to range from 10 to 1,000 different geometric forms, some were fashioned from pear wood and others were transparent. One of Harris’ most interesting sales was an unusual Eighteenth Century English doll. “The show worked out quite well for me and for others,” said Harris, who noted that sales were made to an educated and upscale audience.
English royalty was on parade in the booth of Elinor Penna, Old Westbury, N.Y., in the form of a matched Staffordshire pair of figures, circa 1855–60, portraying the duke and duchess of Windsor. Penna, who specializes in Nineteenth Century Staffordshire, pearlware, animals and Victorian celebrities, was sharing the space with fellow Staffordshire maven Bill Shaeffer. “I think the historical society did a great job, because the attendance was steady even with threats of snow on Sunday,” said Penna afterwards. “Unfortunately, we didn’t sell much, and I sold needlepoints, not pottery. The most interest was in dog needlepoints drawn from Queen Victoria’s little spaniel Dash. I sold three of them.”
With little room to spare, Jackie Smelkinson and Marcia Moylan packed their booth with showcases full of Georgian and Victorian, Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century English ceramics and all kinds of whimsical figural collectibles and decorative objects. Smelkinson pointed out one of the Baltimore, Md., firm’s top-shelf items — a rare Spode set of porcelain tulip cups and creamware serving dish, circa 1810. “You rarely see the whole set together,” she said of the colorful yet delicate group that included two each of yellow, purple and pink cups. A unique pansy plate, circa 1760, of soft paste porcelain was another rare piece on display.
Whimsy was also in abundance within the glass cases at Maria and Peter Warren Antiques, Wilton, Conn., where an animal tableau included a regal Staffordshire lion, circa 1800–10, an English creamware deer by Ralph Wood, circa 1790, ex Manheim collection, and a couple of Walton signed animals, circa 1790 and circa 1820.
Traditional early American and continental furniture was available at Woodbury, Conn., antiques dealer Gary Sergeant, whose setup included a unique English scientific library table, circa 1837 or later, whose inlaid and paint decorated top was supported by a palmetto carved pedestal base. The piece featured mechanical chapter wings that could be adjusted by knobs underneath the table top — or one could play a game of chess on a gameboard set within an amazing world map. The table was flanked by a pair of carved Eighteenth Century Gainsborough library chairs.
More Eighteenth and early Nineteenth Century English antique furniture could be found at Roger Winter, Solebury, Penn., who brought a monumental George III fiddle back mahogany three-pedestal dining table with two leaves, the top with reeded edge and supported by saber legs on casters, circa 1790–1810. Surrounding the 13-foot-by-50½-by-28½-inch table was an assembled set of 13 George III mahogany dining chairs, circa 1780. Atop a regency sideboard in plum pudding mahogany, circa 1810, were several colorful ironstone platters in the Imari style, all from about the same period as the furniture or a bit later.
This show would not be complete without great sterling silver. Enter longtime show regulars Mark McHugh and Spencer Gordon, who have been in business together as Spencer Marks since 1987, selling fine silver at prominent antiques shows. A showstopper group in their booth for this edition was a Tiffany & Co. American Aesthetic Movement tea and coffee service, circa 1880, from the Rochester, N.Y., residence of tobacco magnate William S. Kimball — known as “Kimball’s Castle.” With sleek, elongated forms and heavily chased surfaces, this set would have fit perfectly with Lockwood de Forest’s Indian carved teak panels that Kimball commissioned for his hall.
For information, 845-876-0616 or www.barnstar.com.
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