Published: October 24, 2006
“Vermont is all about driving from place to place, stopping to look along the way,” says Tim Jefferson, owner of the Cavendish Inn, a Gothic confection of a getaway five miles from Okemo.
If so, the perfect Green Mountains ramble for collectors is Antiques Week in Vermont. The five Vermont shows taking part pool their advertising dollars and coordinate their hours. Together offering 220 diverse booths to shop over four days, the events are within 20 miles of one another. And yes, the drive features spectacular views of Vermont scenery at its fall best.
Kicking off Antiques Week was the September 29–October 1 Weston Antiques Show, a gem if there ever was one. Now in its 48th year, this 37-dealer classic sets up in the Weston Playhouse, a Greek Revival structure opposite the quaint green.
“Antiques for traditional and contemporary lifestyles’ is our slogan,” says Patti Prairie. Weston’s energetic manager, a business consultant with a corporate management background, has fine-tuned the upscale but eclectic fair that offers everything from Seventeenth Century English needlework to Mission furniture and whimsical Twentieth Century linens.
Weston’s gala preview on Thursday, September 28, is a lively affair. Funding historic preservation in Weston, it costs $50 — a bargain considering that 16 area chefs and hoteliers vie for attention at food stations set up on all three floors of the show.
Loyal patrons make it back to the Weston show year after year, two-thirds coming from outside Vermont. The area is a lure for second-home owners from Boston, New York and Connecticut. Not surprisingly, dealers report many retail sales.
Preview attendance was up a dramatic 32 percent this year. Total gate increased through the weekend by 21 percent, to 2,500 shoppers.
“Interest is building. We’ve made significant changes to the show’s design and layout, added new dealers and we promote the show to new property owners in the area,” says Prairie. Knowing her market is key, says the manager, who strives to keep Weston both affordable and appropriate.
Few fairs are as charming, or idiosyncratic, as Weston. Dealers take pains with their displays and the results are striking. After some booth swapping, many have found favorite spots: Collette Donovan makes ideal use of her private, upper-level room with a picture window; W.M. Schwind, Jr, prefers a large, solo space near the balcony; and David & Donna Kmetz cleverly turned their corner booth into an intimate gallery for small landscape paintings. The five dealers who shared the stage — Mad River Antiques, Lewis Scranton, Michael J. Whitman, David Allan Ramsay and Kate Alex — reported good sales. At the foot of the stage, Henry T. Callan did bang-up business in Staffordshire pottery, Chinese Export porcelain, and samplers.
“I see so many familiar faces that its almost a reunion for me,” said Oriental rug specialist Peter Pap, an exhibitor for more than 25 years. The dealer, who has showrooms in Dublin, N.H., and San Francisco, ingeniously draped rugs over the backs of chairs, transforming the Playhouse’s auditorium into a Grand Bazaar.
Sue and Jacques Lilly of The Red Horse Antiques, Bridgewater, Vt., similarly made ideal use of the Playhouse terrace overlooking a postcard-perfect brook and falls. Their garden antiques display included a circa 1890 English plaster painted composition nude, $3,800, and a miniature Lord & Burnham glasshouse, $3,350.
Sharing honors at the show entrance with three well-appointed booths were Judd Gregory, Brennan & Mouilleseaux, and Fiske & Freeman.
“I first came to this show with my grandmother,” said Lisa Freeman, who lives only eights miles away in Belmont in the farmhouse that she and her husband, John Fiske, bought from Lisa’s grandparents.
Fiske & Freeman’s English oak, needlework, metalware and pottery contrasted handsomely with formal American furniture at both Judd Gregory and Haines & Ruskin.
“I’ve never seen one like it,” Old Lyme, Conn., dealer Lee Haines said of his rare Rhode Island tenon arm Windsor chair in old paint, $4,800.
Many Weston Show exhibitors have participated for decades.
“We took over the booth from my mother, Esther Gilbert, who started in 1975,” said Southampton, Mass., dealer Sue Kozub.
“It’s always been a good show. We’ve been doing it since 1978. This is a preview you really sell at,” said South Yarmouth, Maine, dealer Barbara Adams.
Newcomers this year included Jim Yeager, a toy dealer from Lees Summit, Mo.; George and Debbie Spiecker of North Hampton, N.H.; and J. LiaBraaten Antiques of Annandale, Va. A specialist in English ceramics with an emphasis on creamware and drabware, LiaBratten, a former designer, tailored his display to his audience.
“Vermont’s about subtle beauty,” said the Virginia dealer.
Organized by Patti Prairie, the loan show, “Lost Vermont Images: The Spirit of a Place, Vermont Art, 1920–1970,” featured paintings from the collection of Lyman Orton, proprietor of the Vermont Country Store and chairman of the Orton Family Foundation, and Barbara Trask Melhado, an appraiser and trustee of the Southern Vermont Arts Center and the Vermont Historical Society. In addition to an important Rockwell Kent that hung over the front door, there were works by Aldro Hibbard, Wallace Fahnestock, Luigi Lucioni, Gene Pelham, Walton Blodgett, Kyra Markham, Bernadine Custer, Irwin Hoffman, Marion Huse, David Humphreys, Harry Shokler, Beatrice Jackson, Claude Dern, Paul Sample, Mead Schaeffer, Churchill Ettinger and John Clymer.
Dealers also made a point of bringing regional views. A southern Vermont landscape by Charles Louis Heyde was $25,000 at Judd Gregory, Dorset, Vt.; George Spiecker unveiled a collection of Charles Curtis Allen paintings of Vermont, $2,400 to $3,800 each; and “Winter in South Londonderry” by William LaValley was $3,750 at Mad River Antiques, North Granby, Conn.
Accompanying the loan show was a 35-page illustrated color catalog, Lost Vermont Images, by Patti Prairie with a foreword by Senator James M. Jeffords and an introduction by Tom Slayton.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm