Published: December 26, 2006
For the 25th consecutive year, Bettianne Sweeney and her family managed and hosted the Thanksgiving Holiday Antique Show, November 24–26, at the Kingsmill Marriott Hotel. This year, 26 dealers filled the ballroom with antique furniture, dishes, porcelain and China, Oriental rugs, fine art and prints.
The show has its roots with two antiques dealers who wanted to create a medium for antiques buyers and sellers to meet in a pleasant, casual environment. Anne Trevarthen and Sweeney decided on the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend and chose the then-new Hilton Hotel in Kingsmill, a large, upscale subdivision adjacent to Colonial Williamsburg. For the first few years the show was managed by both women, with help from their families, but Trevarthen withdrew and Sweeney continued. Even now, Sweeney’s adult grandchildren help at the door and assist dealers in their setups. The only change has been the name of the hotel, from Hilton to Sheraton and now Marriott.
Dealers in the show have changed over the years but so rarely that one customer remarked, “It’s so good to see you all back here again this year.” Only the Woodys of At the Sign of the Sycamore, Sewickley, Penn., have exhibited at every show. Their collection is primarily fine early silver, mostly for the dining table. Additionally, they offered some fine porcelain and china.
Rex McNiel and Ben Reed, Delmar, Md., have been in the show since the early years with their collection of mostly Georgian furniture, some early Persian rugs and Chinese Export dishes. While these are their favorites, their inventory also offers other antiques, with a paint decorated Japanese trunk on stand as the featured piece this year.
Another dealer who has been at the show for most of the years is Brill’s Antiques of nearby Newport News, Va. Jerry and Judy Brill — he is the second generation of antiques dealers in his family — work hard to have an extensive collection of early American formal furniture and some basic pieces. Their collection also included all the accessories for the modern home to complete the décor — lamps, old Persian rugs and some things described as show pieces, such as special dishes and serving pieces that might be used as accents.
Completing the front row of the show was another longtime exhibitor, John Long of Mineral, Va. Long has been collecting and trading in a mixture of early American formal and country styles for many years. Thanksgiving had him getting ready with an American hutch table and a cherry tall chest. There was also a Hepplewhite mahogany veneer chest of drawers, probably English, and a collection of primitive American chairs.
Among the few new dealers to the show this year was Poverty Hollow Enterprises of Redding Ridge and Stamford, Conn. The owner, Bob Baker, does a good deal of his shopping in England for furniture and small accessories. The Thanksgiving show yielded a reasonable sales total for him, and he said he plans to return next year.
Several other dealers at the show shop in England. Antiques of London is the business of Mel Madsen, who has homes in the Williamsburg area and also in London, so it makes shopping there fairly easy. The only problem would be the exchange rate for the dollar versus the pound. Madsen buys small things as the entire collection in his exhibit.
Cynthia Rankin had in the center of her exhibit an early English drop leaf tea table, Queen Anne period and style, in elm wood and in good original condition. Her accessories included a large collection of early paintings, both English and American. Additionally, she had many dining room antiques, such as fine dishes from England and China, a pair of early Chippendale side chairs and some small hardwood boxes for tea and silver.
Just as the show was beginning, Janine Skerry, the curator of dishes and glassware at Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, came to visit her friend and exhibiting dealer Bill Shaeffer of Glyndon, Md. Shaeffer collects and shows a large inventory of dishes that might have been seen in the typical upscale American home of the colonial times, so their visit was part work and some fun for them both.
A relative newcomer to the show, just two years, was Anna’s Antiques of Savannah, Ga. The owner, Dennis Dinatali, was formerly from Connecticut where he built houses. From his new home he has expanded his collection and is now doing numerous shows in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast with an inventory composed primarily of early furniture.
Marie Miller was here from Dorset, Vt., exhibiting for the first time with both the quilts she is known for and a selection of early American-made furniture. She was especially pleased with the furniture, for she sold a corner cupboard that had been priced at more than $4,000. She was attracted to the show by Lorraine and Steve German of Mad River Antiques, North Granby, Conn., who have been in it for more than five years. Their sales this year included early folk art and textiles.
A collection of early samplers and primitive portraits was offered by Neverbird Antiques. Bill and Joyce Subjack retired early from their New Jersey employers several years ago, moved to Surry, Va., and have been lecturing and writing about samplers ever since. They do some shows, offering parts of their collection and a selection of early furniture from the colonies.
New England dealer Anne Hall was offering her fine prints and art at the show again. She has said it is one of her favorites, for it gives her an excuse to be in Williamsburg, and she said she sells very well. One sale on Friday evening, during the opening night, was enough to make the show, but it was only the beginning for her. Her sales continued through the weekend to some customers she now calls her regulars and she also found a very special map at the show.
There were some other exhibitors from Virginia, including Louis W. Sikkelee from Richmond with a collection of silver and fine porcelain; The Bird’s Nest came from Norge with a collection of early furniture and accessories, including an early Queen Anne tea table, which sold Friday evening; Maxine Wolff Shapiro of Richmond came with fine jewelry, and Charley Horse Antiques, Ruther Glen, with folk art and furniture.
Also there for the weekend were Charles and Lucille Berg, South Easton, Mass., with country home furnishings; Edgewood Antiques from Greenville, S.C., who had some of their collection of stoneware and pewter; Christopher English, West Palm Beach, Fla., with export dishes from Asia and something he specializes in collecting and selling — valentine boxes — those small tabletop shell decorated pieces from the early Twentieth Century, which now draw high interest.
All the way inside the ballroom on the back wall, two antique furniture dealers shared the space. Beatrice Pearl Antiques is the business of the Best family — Gene, Diana and their daughter, Summer from Mocksville, N.C. Their sales included several pieces of furniture and some accessories. Sharon, Conn., dealer Easter Hill Antiques also exhibited, with sales including an Eighteenth Century highboy in cherry that had been tagged at $14,500 and several antique Persian tribal rugs.
The show, according to many dealers and visitors, was a very happy place for the three-day weekend. The show is small for all its 25 years, but Sweeney has made advertising the biggest expense in her budget, and so the people do come. Look for it again next year at the Marriott, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. For information, 757-220-1299 or www.holidayantiqueshows.com.
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