Published: May 15, 2007
The Wilton Historical Society Antiques Show, slimmed down to a single day but as stylish and good looking as ever, presented its spring edition on April 29, 2007, with nearly 80 dealers set up in the Wilton High School Field House.
Show manager Marilyn Gould has scaled down the show †last spring an entire exhibition area in an adjacent space was eliminated †and this year, the “March show,” as it has long been known, had to be juggled around New York City’s Pier Show, the Hartford spring show, Easter, Passover and the Philadelphia shows, pushing it into April and on a collision course with other activities involving the high school field house; hence, its one-day run. Explained Gould in preshow publicity, “Unfortunately there is no other venue in Wilton, and so we must play the hand we’ve been dealt.”
Gould’s ace, however, was, predictably, the ample variety of merchandise shown and quality of her dealers. She also played another card that had the effect of turning less into more †attracting area collectors by staging a Wilton Collectors Weekend, complete with a reception for dealers and collectors at the historical society’s museum the evening before the show, where visitors had an opportunity to get a sneak preview of an impressive exhibition that has Gould put together, called “Made in Connecticut: Toys for American Kids, 1850′007.” The exhibit, with nearly 300 toys on loan from private collectors from nine states, offers an unusual look at how Connecticut’s early industrialization led to the development of a significant toy industry.
Back this year at the antiques show was early buying, where for a $25 ticket, showgoers could enter at 9 am for first choice of merchandise. Americana fans, a core constituency of the Wilton show, waited eagerly in line for more than an hour for first dibs, and a few familiar dealer faces could be seen among the crowd. Some exhibiting dealers commented that they believed the gate was off. Still, a number of them also reported healthy sales and keen interest.
“As always, Wilton was a beautiful show,” said Lorraine and Steve German of Mad River Antiques. “Marilyn had a lineup of excellent dealers with a very good mix of merchandise.”
The North Granby, Conn., dealers added, “We ended up doing pretty well on Sunday. Although we did sell a blanket box, most of our sales were smalls, a couple of sandpaper paintings, a basket and a hooked rug, to name a few.”
Bill and Terry Kurau, well-known for their Historical Blue Staffordshire, Liverpool pitchers and Anglo American ceramics, said the Wilton show was “decent,” but they like it better as a two-day show in March. “It’s a lot of work for a one-day show, and it’s certainly a good-looking show with much variety,” said Bill Kurau. “We sold a fine platter depicting the ‘Capitol, Washington’ by Ridgway that was produced in the 1825 period.” Other sales for the Lampeter, Penn., dealers included a Pratt hunt jug, a child’s tea set of historical interest, a George Washington Liverpool pitcher and various Anglo American ceramics.
Oley Forge, Penn., dealers George Allen and Gordon Wyckoff †doing business as Raccoon Creek Antiques †reported that they “saw lots of new faces and met many new interesting people and . . . SOLD!” Highlighting their booth was their trademark collection of redware and an early Twentieth Century hooked rug of “A Good Bird Dog,” sure to please even a nonsporting dog lover. “First of all, we think Marilyn is to be commended for her efforts,” said the dealers. “The show looked as well as it ever had; in fact, we think better. The merchandise offered was of the highest levels and diversity. The crowd seemed knowledgeable and they were anxious to buy interesting objects.”
Among Raccoon Creek’s sales was a Nineteenth Century carved Pennsylvania eagle by Wilhelm Schimmel. “For a one-day show, it reflected today’s market †people want to add the best of the best to their collections, and seem to be gravitating to the rare and the exceptional,” said the dealers.
“Rare and exceptional” pretty much defines the merchandise shown by the fastidiously eclectic Mo Wasjelfish and Johnny Young of Leatherwood Antiques. The Sandwich, Mass., dealers were presenting everything from an extra large Bergman horse with saddle and bridle †”the largest Vienna bronze we have ever had” †to a whimsical turn-of-the-Twentieth-Century bear chandelier from Switzerland that had been electrified for the American market. Amid a shoe-themed corner in the booth, Leatherwood displayed an English carved bank, circa 1880, in the form of a Victorian shoe on a base.
Selling an Arts and Crafts table, along with pieces of Mission furniture and accessories, as well as a #5 maple Shaker rocker, Dick Vandall of American Decorative Arts, Canaan, N.H., had “an adequate show, not gangbusters” this time around. Co-proprietor Wayne Adams showed his collection of Stevengraphs (woven silk pictures), which will be significantly augmented by a large collection the dealers recently acquired and which they plan to debut at the Brandywine River Museum Antiques Show later this month.
Pat Stauble and Shirley Chambers, who have not displayed at the Wilton show for nearly 2½ years, said it was good to get back to such familiar territory. “We always had excellent shows there, so we didn’t know what to expect from this new date for the spring show,” said Chambers. The Westford, Mass., dealer’s appraisal was that it was not as good as in the past. “Most of my sales were under $700 and easily carried away in a medium-size bag,” she said.
Stauble, from Wiscasset, Maine, sold a very desirable shadowbox of a three-masted schooner with wooden sails, a carved eagle †her specialty †and many smalls. A booth magnet in the dealers’ shared space was a wonderful large hearth rug from Maine with a cornucopia motif, along with some early hat boxes.
Despite their less than stellar result, the dealers gave Gould “another gold star for her excellent promotion of this show. She really couldn’t have done more,” they said “And the Wilton Historical Society’s cocktail party at its museum building for dealers and friends after setup on Saturday was truly sumptuous and stylish.”
Folky American hooked rugs seemed to be a staple commodity at the show. “Rover,” dated 1928 and measuring 39 by 43 inches, was a winsome attraction at Newsom & Berdan Antiques. “We found that most of what we sold was decorative, colorful and easy to transport,” said Mike Newsom, echoing Chambers’ observation. “We had interest in furniture, and hope this may translate to future sales,” added the Thomasville, Penn., and Hallowell, Maine, dealer. “Marilyn Gould always works hard to make things good for her dealers. We liked the show date and hope it will work out next spring.”
The show was successful for Maile Allen of Colonia, N.J., whose Seventeenth, Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century maps and botanical and natural history prints are always in demand. A somewhat different item displayed at this show was a complete 14-volume account of Captain James Cook’s three voyages of discovery, which Allen said received a tremendous amount of interest. “I sold several maps, including an Ortelius Holland from 1606 and a John Speed ‘A New Map of Ye XVII Provinces of Low Country Germany from 1676,'” said Allen. “I’m always thrilled to be in antiques shows at Wilton. The show has a very elegant atmosphere, and I love to support such an active historical society.”
Bennington and other early American pottery always anchors the booth of Charles and Barbara Adams. And sure enough, the South Yarmouth, Mass., dealers had a whole corner of the wares on display, one of the most entertaining of which was a rare presentation pitcher from South Amboy, N.J., with an unusual twig handle and a frog inside, likely made during the temperance period, according to Charles Adams. The piece was inscribed “Eleanor S. Schenck,” who is listed in genealogical records as the wife of Frederick W. Fenner, a prominent temperance worker.
The Adamses were also showing a great set of yellow thumb back Windsor chairs, circa 1850s, from the Cape, comprising a master chair and four side chairs that had been recently reunited and that were decorated with a melon and grapes motif. Another highlight was a large cranberry sorter from Carber, Mass., circa 1870, in original gray paint. “Wilton was okay for us, but not like it usually is,” said the Adamses. “Everyone loved the yellow chairs, but no takers yet. Bennington was our big seller. We sold several pieces to regular customers and also sold three pieces to a first-time person. Also sold were two paintings, stoneware, a historic document, yellowware and an unusual piece of Victorian shellwork.”
Two Maine dealers, Nancy Prince of Portland and Jim LeFurgy of Wiscasset, shared a booth filled with folk art, Native American items, furniture and other American antiques. They, too, were showing yellow thumb back Windsor chairs, a set of four. These were from Maine, circa 1840, and were signed Jer Carleton. A Nineteenth Century Apache basket and an Eighteenth Century Maine blanket box were also attracting attention.
“Jim and I were very pleased with the show,” reported Prince afterward. “We had some very high-end sales, including the beautiful Apache basket, a fine Hopi kachina and an outstanding Eskimo cribbage board. Our sales continued throughout the day and included the set of painted Maine thumb back Windsor chairs, the painted blanket box, a pair of carved dolphins, a moose hair embroidered card case, paintings and many smaller items.”
Prince was one of the few dealers who said she liked the show’s one-day format. “I believe that customers will adjust to it,” she said, adding, “I think that the opening of the historical society’s toy exhibit helped to strengthen the weekend for customers.”
Another pair of dealers who sold across the board right up to the end of the show was Michael and Lucinda Seward of Pittsford, Vt. “The overall experience at Wilton was a good one,” said Lucinda Seward. She related that on the way down to the show from Vermont, they had stopped in at a shop that had just been open for a couple of days. “We purchased a pair of terrifically graphic charcoal paintings of fish. It was a lucky find. They garnered a lot of attention and were subsequently purchased by a prominent art dealer, who planned to hang them in his fishing camp,” she said.
Until they were sold, the fish paintings kept company in the Sewards’ booth with such Americana merchandise as an early Nineteenth Century New England step back cupboard in old gray paint, an exuberant 1880s wicker chair in original finish and a good carved lectern eagle, probably Midwestern, from the late Nineteenth Century.
For this year, Gould has decided to not host her popular Wilton Outdoor Antiques Marketplace, usually conducted in June at Allen’s Meadows, just north of the Wilton High School. For information, 203-762-3525.
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