Published: December 26, 2006
Terri Tushingham, an interior decorator, usually leaves her home in Demarest, N.J., before 6 am in order to be among the first in line of early buyers at the Wilton Holiday Antiques Show, a one-day show organized by Marilyn Gould to benefit the Wilton Historical Society’s John G. Corr Memorial Award fund.
Sure enough, Tushingham was right up in front as a large crowd gathered, then surged into the Wilton High School Field House at 9 am on December 3. Tushingham was among the first, but she had not traveled the farthest. That distinction went to Jim Fu, a Chinese gentleman whose collecting interest is Chinese ceramics and who had come all the way from Shanghai.
“He didn’t find a particular item, but he is enjoying the show,” said Ken Fu, the gentleman’s New York City-based brother who had brought him to Wilton. He explained that his brother buys Chinese ceramics, such as jars and pottery, that are scarce in his own country.
Rarities of all national stripes were on display by 115 dealers inside the field house with a holiday-themed array of country and period formal furniture from the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, folk art, paintings, prints, ceramics, textiles, silver, jewelry, Americana, Oriental rugs and decorative accessories.
Rufus Foshee, the Camden, Maine, dealer whose English and American ceramic collections from the Seventeenth through Nineteenth Centuries — mocha ware, pearlware, canary yellow, spatterware, creamware and more — always impress, said, “There was a good feeling about the show from setup on. It worked out well for a good number of people.
“We did very well because of the typical type of sale we make,” he continued. “We sell to every level of collector, beginners or advanced. There almost always appears one of our patrons who has bought another country house or an island house and wants it to be just as elegant as the other residences to which they are accustomed. So a patron did appear and after 17 purchases that made the difference.”
This theme was echoed by Charles and Barbara Adams, South Yarmouth, Mass., dealers who specialize in early American antiques with a focus on Bennington pottery, who said, “Wilton was just great for us. Sort of like the old days. The crowd was large, steady throughout the day and very enthusiastic. The mood was definitely upbeat. Our biggest sale was ten pieces of Bennington to a regular customer. They actually use the pieces and they are for their home in Nantucket. Our annual Christmas corner with bottle brush and decorated trees was nearly sold out and we had very few ornaments left by the end of the day. Our last sale of a very unusual pair of skates, red with high prow and signed, happened at nearly 5 pm. The show was a wonderful way to start our holiday season.”
Joan Brownstein of Newbury, Mass., displayed an unusual and highly stylized pair of pastel, charcoal and watercolor portraits of Mr and Mrs Broodbill of Chestnut Street, Philadelphia. Measuring 19½ by 23¼ inches and in period frames, the portraits were rendered primarily in black and white, but featured a sparing use of color in the faces and quite dramatically in the woman’s striped dress.
“I was pleased with the show,” said Brownstein afterwards. “The crowd was good all day, and I think that ‘smalls’ — meaning objects small in size, not necessarily in price or importance — as opposed to furniture, sold well. I sold a small Massachusetts sampler, which was quite beautiful, graphically, a wonderful watercolor of an exotic bird on a branch of berries that is similar to one illustrated in The Flowering of American Folk Art and a theorem of fruit in a footed compote that was decorated with mica flakes to simulate the visual effects of light on glass, something I have never seen done before.”
Sharing the booth, with a focus on furniture, Peter Eaton said the crowd seemed bigger than usual. “Hooked rugs, weathervanes, good smalls seemed to sell. Furniture remained tough — although I understand that some people did sell. I thought the show looked very good, many dealers had clearly made a major effort.” Among the pieces Eaton displayed was a New Hampshire Chippendale chest on chest, circa 1800–10, in flame birch with strong cornice molding and particularly fine proportions on a tall bracket base. Back in Eaton’s possession, having been repurchased from a collector he had sold it to 20 years ago was a William and Mary tavern table from the third quarter of the Eighteenth Century. Made of birch and pine, the unusually large size table in great old red paint had come from either New Hampshire or Massachusetts.
Also pleased with the show were Steve and Lorraine German of North Granby, Conn., who do business as Mad River Antiques. “We saw a lot of interest and enthusiasm from the customers and we were busy selling from the time the show opened at early buying until it closed. We sold items to several customers who said that they had come to do some Christmas shopping —- there was lots to choose from in every price range and they could avoid the malls.”
Highlighting their booth was a signed oil on board winter street scene in New York City, very Wiggins-esque, from the 1940s–50s. It was signed R. Wylie, but the Germans had not found any information about the artist. A blue and white Jacquard coverlet made for Prudence Morrison and dated May 4, 1825, was on view, as well as a painting on velvet of “Lady Liberty,” circa 1810, after Edward Savage’s late Eighteenth Century allegorical painting of the goddess of youth giving support to the bald eagle.
The Germans sold an early C. Crolius stoneware jug from New York City and a fire bucket dated 1828. “While we sold several traditional antiques, such as stoneware and furniture, a good part of our sales included the Christmas items and early toys that we look for all year long and put aside for the show,” said Lorraine German.
The lifetime collection of books once belonging to English and American porcelain expert David Good was the latest offering by book dealer Rick Russack of Danville, N.H. The rarest book in the library was a presentation copy of Chinese Armorial Porcelain, signed by the author. And, speaking of authors, dealer David Schorsch and Ruth Wolfe were set up at a table next to Russack’s booth signing copies of their book on American folk art, Expressions of Innocence and Eloquence: Selections from the Jane Katcher Collection of Americana.
Game boards, trade signs and the ever-present lineup of quality decoys were being displayed by Russ and Karen Goldberger, RJG Antiques, of Rye, N.H. “We had a good show, moving some furniture, decoys, hooked rugs, etc,” said Russ Goldberger. “Seemed like there was a good crowd, many in a holiday buying mood. Marilyn runs a smooth, well-organized show.”
Brian Cullity of Sagamore, Mass., had stepped up to the plate to offer fresh merchandise that included a selection of three Eighteenth Century leather billfolds ex-William Guthman collection. Proclaiming “Liberty” embossed on its surface was one example, and another, dated 1751, featured a full rigged ship on both sides, while a 1776 billfold was embossed with “Unity.” “It turned out to be a fairly good show,” said Cullity. “My sales were limited to very good small items, no furniture. There was a good gate throughout the day with customers expressing interest in a variety of objects. One of the better items I sold was a rare pair of George Washington cloak hooks manufactured in England for the American market, circa 1790.”
Unlike last year, there was no snow on the ground when the show opened. Still, thoughts of hearth and home were stoked by the gleaming display of antique fireplace equipment and accessories at J. Gallagher, North Norwich, N.Y. Owners Jim Gallagher and Ruth Zager were showing a British leather seated fender, circa 1880, along with a large selection of New York federal signed andirons.
The “fire dogs” were pointedly more conceptual in the booth of J.B. Richardson. The Westport, Conn., dealer had a pair of early Twentieth Century examples of iron that had been forged with doggy heads and tails. “They’re good enough to be folk art,” said Jim Richardson.
Early Americana was the main draw at Raccoon Creek Antiques, Oley, Penn., whose owners George Allen and Gordon Wyckoff mounted an eye-pleasing assortment ranging from a mid Nineteenth Century sandpaper painting that was very detailed with people, boats and animals to a diminutive Pennsylvanian blanket chest, 1860, with a strong stylized tulip design. “The show overall seemed pretty active for most dealers,” said Allen. “Marilyn knows how to advertise and gets the crowd there. As in any show, it’s having the right piece for the right person, and then they have to want to buy it. We had extreme interest in some of the higher end rarities we brought to the show, and did sell several items including a Nineteenth Century black and white oil on canvas farmscape. Our follow-ups are usually strong after the show.”
For Newcastle, Maine, dealers Tom Jewett and Charles Berdan, the show was “good with a well rounded crowd. We thought the quality of the show looked great.” They offered, among other items, a fresh, right-out-of-the-home child’s sled, circa 1870, with stylized swan heads in tin, a 1940s hooked rug and several pieces of painted furniture, including a yellow washstand with original decoration, circa 1850.
“A few of our notable sales were a wonderful theorem on paper, a great decorated Snyder, Penn., bench and many smalls,” said Tom Jewett.
As always, the show presented several fine art dealers, including Jaffe & Thurston of Warwarsing, N.Y., and Blue Heron Interiors of Cohasset, Mass. A one-day show is challenging for such merchandise, said Shelley Brown of Blue Heron Interiors, “because people don’t have the opportunity to go home and think about a purchase, and then return the next day. This can be important, particularly if it is a large piece of furniture, a large painting or other work of art.
“That said, Marilyn puts together a very attractive show filled with wonderful dealers who truly work hard to display their goods artfully. There is a wonderful assortment of antiques and fine art. It would be nice, however, to have another day to connect with customers.”
Brown and partner Jim Puzinas had artfully filled their booth with Nineteenth and Twentieth Century American paintings. Among the gems was an oil on canvas board painting by Frances Hudson Storrs (American, 1860–1945), “Lieutenant River, Old Lyme, CT, 1914,” exemplifying the woman artist’s training by such masters as William Merritt Chase, and “The Rose Arbor” by Hal Robinson (American, 1875–1933), an oil on canvas displaying the artist’s strength as an impressionist painter conveying the first bloom of a colorful rose arbor.
“We had a decent show, selling two paintings and hoping for a couple of follow-ups,” said Brown.
Jewelry is always a best-seller at holiday antiques shows, and Merle Koblenz, the South Kent, Conn., dealer who offers a wide range of precious gold and silver items, enjoyed a successful outing. “One of my most enjoyable sales was a 1920s enameled gold brooch with gemstones to a gal collector who received her graduate gemology degree in 1976 and she knew one of the first few woman gemologists, Eunice Miles, with the Gemological Institute of America.”
For information, 203-762-7257 or www.wiltonhistorical.org.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm