Published: December 18, 2001
By Steve Sundlof
WILTON, CONN. – Marilyn Gould arranged a one-day show, December 2, that left dealers with a solid year-end event and instilled long needed positive reinforcement in the antiques market. The Wilton High School field house and a secondary annex housed 130 dealers showcasing country and period formal Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century furniture, folk art, prints and maps, ceramics, textiles, silver, jewelry, Oriental rugs, American Arts and Crafts period, American Indian arts and vintage holiday rdf_Descriptions.
Dealers reported strong sales and a very heavy traffic flow of buyers eager to buy for the holidays. People were happy to finally get back into a high-quality venue after a very long fall season of cancelled shows, short notice venue changes and an incredibly weak economy. The ground-level facility enabled easy load-in and pack-out and coupled with great sales, dealers tipped their hats to the management team.
Elizabeth Robinson of Acorn Antiques, Westerley, R.I., who specializes in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century prints, pewter and Blue Willow, was set up along the hall into the secondary dealer area, observed, “The Wilton Antiques Show was extremely well attended all day long – with a number of people coming out from New York City – and I sold all day long as well.
“Selling were a wonderful iron star, a set of nine colorful pins, to say nothing of a quantity of prints, British pewter, Blue Willow, and many pieces of Spode Tower pattern china. Marilyn’s shows are always very well run. I think that this was the loveliest December show that Marilyn has ever put on, and many people commented on the beauty of the exhibits and the very attractive annex – with cafeteria – where a number of us were set up,” Robinson added.
“Many people were buying Christmas gifts and were happy to be in such a lovely environment to do this. It was just a ‘knock out’ show. I think that the antiques market will hold its own in the ensuing months because antiques are a source of not only beauty, but give people a feeling of comfort and solidity in these troubled times.”
Paul Phillips of Paul Phillips Antiques came northeast from Bryn Mawr, Penn., and stated, “Although our sales were only fair, I was very pleased to see that the gate was strong for most of the day. It was good to see that customers weren’t just staying home during uncertain economic times. I sensed a hesitation, on the part of a number of customers, to spend a lot of money on a single purchase. However, I do know of some significant purchases that were made, so not everyone was afraid or unable to make big purchases.”
Phillips continued, “My general feeling from the last two months of shows is that customers are simply being conservative in their buying and not buying so much on impulse. My best guess is that we are in for a period of generally restrained sales. Hopefully by spring things will pick up and at least begin to get back to the levels that we experienced in the last few years.”
Randall E. Decoteau, Warren, Mass., summarized the show saying, “I was quite encouraged by the enthusiasm generated by the show. The gate was strong and the customers were interested. I sold furniture and my clients were not hesitant about their purchases. The show overall looked very good to me. Marilyn is a terrific manager!”
Clifford Wallach, Brooklyn, N.Y., voiced, “This was the first show from my last year schedule that I did since September 11. It was wonderful to be in a show environment again. There was good action, the crowds were strong and buying. We did very well selling several tramp art boxes including a signed one, some fine frames and a piece of tramp art furniture.”
Wallach continued, “One customer apologized that she bought so much at the show she would have to see me at my gallery because she could not spend any more! The last few weeks have been strong for our business but we were concerned how well we would perform at a good show. The results were very positive for us and seemingly for many dealers. The attitudes of the shoppers were positive and they spent money. Hopefully we can further continue on the road to recovery and see our calendars filled again with our favorite shows.”
George and Debbie Spiecker, North Hampton, N.H., had a Bellamy-type eagle, wood and composition banner that read “Don’t Give up the Ship,” wearing original paint measuring 221/2 inches long; also, a builder’s model or half hull, schooner yacht, 251/2 inches long; and an old copper weather vane of celebrated trotter Colonel Patcheni, attributed to J.W. Fiske & Co., active 1870-1893 in New York, structurally original, except for bullet holes; an American horse copper wea-thervane of “Smuggler,” circa 1880, 31 inches long; and an English inlaid mahogany wheel barometer, circa 1820 by Ronchetti of Manchester, 42 inches high.
Tom and Julia Barringer traveled from Stockton, N.J., and Tom declared, “The gate was good both at early buying and throughout the show. We had good sales that included Staffordshire, a pair of Nineteenth Century fancy chairs, a sheet-iron camp sign, a woven runner, a hooked rug, anniversary tin, an Eighteenth Century candlestand and a redware pie plate.
“During the last quarter of 2001, most of our sales have been primarily ‘smalls.’ We did five shows during the past three months – one in Vermont, two in Pennsylvania, one in Virginia, and one in Connecticut. All of these were strong shows except Virginia. All were primarily carried on smalls. Of the nine sales that we made at Wilton, all but one were to New York addresses. The remaining one was to a Michigan address.”
Barringer concluded by adding, “Management was helpful and accommodating and we packed out in a little over an hour. This is a good date and provides an opportunity for those doing some early Christmas shopping to find something to fill their needs. With uncertainty in the political and economic worlds, we expect the trend in smalls to continue into the first part of the year.”
Brain Cullity of Sagamore, Mass., stated, “It was a very good gate, steady and heavy throughout the day. Large pieces of furniture did not seem to be selling; rather fine smalls did well. I sold redware, ephemera – early broadsides, maps and other Eighteenth Century documents – a good card table, scrimshaw and other esoteric rdf_Descriptions. I had a very good show and am pleased.
“Loading in and out is much easier with construction completed. I do, however, feel confident enough in the future to plan on staying in the antiques field as an occupation. Sales appear to be variable from dealer to dealer but always have been. I am lining up a strong series of shows for the next year and generally feel confident. December Wilton has always been a good show for me as it brings in a wide variety of collectors and dealers looking for the best.”
Ryan M. Cooper of Yarmouthport, Mass., specializes in folk art, historical Americana, military and Civil War rdf_Descriptions, photography and manuscripts and had an equally diverse display. An oil on canvas by Thomas Whitcombe (1752-1824) entitled “A Fishing Boat Entering the Harbour at Broadstairs,” signed and dated 1803, from one of Britain’s most well-known maritime artists who exhibited at the Royal Academy, 1783-1824; and an oil on canvas by Antonio Jacobson (1850-1921), “Passenger Steamship Arizona” 211/4 by 351/4, signed and dated 1880.
Cooper also showcased an authentic carved Bellamy eagle; a watercolor on paper, “The Minerva of the Teignmouth,” circa 1795, attributed to Gussipie Fedi, who worked in Naples, late Eighteenth Century to early Nineteenth Century; a rare Tonga Islands mid Ninetieth Century neckrest of abstract form, 171/4-inch-long; a Toi Hawaiian bowl, hand carved, made from Koa wood, 8 inches in diameter, and various examples of Nineteenth Century scrimshaw.
Peter Eaton, Newburyport, Mass., replied, “I thought there was a very good turnout that held throughout the afternoon. I had a good show, selling a Chippendale wing chair, a Queen Anne breakfast table with good old surface, a good folk portrait, two country six-board chests, and two pairs of andirons. I do think a lot of furniture – country, refinished formal, and Twentieth Century – did sell for a December Wilton, which has traditionally been thought of as less furniture oriented than the other three shows.
“The added doors make move-out easier, but it remains far too tense. I’d like to see management simply withhold contracts from those dealers who continually ignore the ‘rules’. The next six months? I think that dealers have to recognize that the business has changed. Nothing in a dealer’s inventory is worth what it was before the tragedy of September 11. Holding stuff for a future show that may or may not occur in an economy that may or may not be stronger in a country that may or may not have suffered another tragic event seems like a risk not worth taking! Buy it and sell it, keep your inventory moving, stay active – there’s plenty of business out there.”
Russ and Karen Goldberger of Rye, N.H., said, “We had a good show, a bit better than last December and certainly better than in September. Attendance was strong and there was some real interest shown in our antiques and decoys. It seemed like the dealers in our part of the field house all did quite well. We sold some game boards, a candlestand, a hutch table, and some decoys and miniature bird carvings. The new field house makes load-in and pack-out a pleasure.”
Charles and Barbara Adams, South Yarmouth, Mass., affirmed, “For us it was the best December show we have had. We have been doing all of Marilyn Gould’s Wilton shows for several years. The gate on December 2 was extremely good and steady all day. We sold steady up to 5 pm and everything was selling for us. We sold Christmas rdf_Descriptions, hooked rugs, Bennington pottery, redware, blue sponge and Leeds feather edge pottery as well as two pieces of furniture.”
Adams declared, “I even sold my fireplace mantle, which was only to be used as a prop and so indicated. I had so many people interested in it; I finally gave in and sold it. The general mood at the show was very positive and we had customers from several different states. We sold to our regular customers and also to some new ones attending the show for the first time. It was a great way for us to end our 200l season.”
Norma Chick of Autumn Pond, Woodbury, Conn., stated, “I had a wonderful show, attendance was terrific and I was very pleased. I think that most of the rdf_Descriptions sold in the show were smalls, rather than furniture, which is typical for the December show. Both set up and pack-out were very easy and took very little time compared to the past shows. This show is generally very good for me, and it was this year. I sold mostly delft, which is what I usually sell at the December show.”
Tim and Charline Chambers of Missouri Plain Folk traveled, aptly, from Missouri and reported, “As this was our first indoor Wilton event ever and given today’s climate, one never knows what to expect. Add that to the normal uncertainties of doing a show for the first time and you can definitely see the need for a crystal ball! I must say we were quite pleased. The gate seemed substantial and interest was evident. The load in and out was a breeze. The event couldn’t have been run any smoother thanks to the Goulds.”
Chambers continued, “We sold to collectors new to us and this is always a plus. As you well know, our material tends to be a little out of the box, but once again we had a terrific response. We made several sales; among them a most unusual Nineteenth Century paint decorated step back cupboard from Nebraska, a quirky Twentieth Century whirligig from Missouri, and as might be expected, two game boards. Our focus continues to be on visual ‘happy’ pieces and there seems to be continued interest.”
Marilyn Gould reflected, “It was an excellent weekend with strong attendance, actually better than last year. One exhibitor said, ‘It is great to see the antiques business is alive and well and that Wilton is popping again.’ There was a lot of enthusiasm and we were very lucky with the weather [75 degrees]. I believe this was the best looking show ever. Early buying had over 350 people pouring over some great merchandise. Our next show, the 34th Annual, benefits the Wilton Historical Society and is set for March 16-17, with carpeted floor and nine-foot walls.”
As of the writing of this review, the economy’s “yardstick,” the Dow, has pushed over 10,000 and hopefully signifies an upturn in the overall climate in the United States. No one can foresee where the antiques market will be in the spring, but after some very trying months, consumer confidence should return and dealers again will be willing to buy for resale. Peaks and valleys are normal; however, this period has become the Grand Canyon of valleys, creating losses in the hundreds of millions across the United States. A successful show like Marilyn Gould’s instills a belief that good times lie ahead, just around the corner.
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