Published: May 4, 2016
Review And Photos By W.A. Demers
WILTON, CONN. — There was an eager group of about 25–30 people standing at the entrance to the Wilton High School Field House on Saturday, April 16, waiting for the 10 am opening of the Wilton Spring Antiques Show. More than 30 booths, some with two dealers sharing a space, were filled with a wide range of merchandise, covering a variety of collecting interests — from tall case clocks, American furniture and accessories to prints and maps, folk art, fine art, early Staffordshire and transfer ware ceramics, Asian arts, midcentury design and more.
Frank Gaglio of Barn Star Productions pulls together this event that benefits the Wilton Historical Society for both its spring and fall editions. “We were pleased with Saturday’s gate. There was a good consistent flow of people through the show, and we received many compliments on the layout. Our new boutique floor plan makes it easier to enjoy the show without being rushed or cramped, and our relocated café was a big hit,” Gaglio said. He noted, “Sunday was slower, but there were people who were back with return passes, and several dealers made good sales.”
As usual, the booth of Hilary and Paulette Nolan, Falmouth, Mass., was at the front of the show and offered, among many items, an Eighteenth Century Windsor stool, all original with a chestnut seat. Probably from Connecticut, it presented an unusual form in that a modern day sitter — and certainly an Eighteenth Century one as well — would find his feet well off the floor. “It was made this way to accommodate the sitter, who would be working at a loom, to work the treadle with one’s feet,” Hilary explained.
“As one of the ‘devout Wilton faithful,’ for me this latest installment bore its strongest harvest to date, a veritable cornucopia of excellent sales,” said South Hadley, Mass., folk art dealer Victor Weinblatt after the show. “Within minutes of Saturday morning’s opening, I sold the centerpiece of my booth — an eight-section, 10-foot polychrome iron balustrade in a lush grape motif, circa 1890, from upstate New York wine country. Selling simultaneously was a circa 1900 stick planter in the most exquisitely dry robin’s egg blue and white color. The second buyer also racked up a litany of folk signage: a Nineteenth Century diminutive tavern sign, a figural Maine clams sign, a double-faced shoeshine three-color trade sign, a well water sign, a soda fountain ‘egg cream’ sign and a ‘Furnished Rooms’ sign.”
Weinblatt’s successful commerce continued over the next day of the show as he sold a large, graphic wood gate with hand-forged hardware, a department store “Ski Pants” sign, a butternut candy sign, a set of four vertically elongated Nineteenth Century architectural finials and a graphically edgy midcentury “TV and Radio Repair” sign. “Boutique-size shows can often work to the advantage of the dealer, with fewer pieces in which to divvy up the pie,” said Weinblatt of the downsized show. “Barn Star continues to live up to its long and hard-working tradition — a dealer’s dealer quite naturally becomes a show manager’s manager.”
A cement rabbit from around the 1940s struck a spring-like note in the booth of Robert Perry, Orchard Park, N.Y. It seemed poised for a hop across the Nineteenth Century oversized table with carved legs that it had been placed on, perhaps to find a cozy spot on a nearby Eighteenth Century Chinese Chippendale camelback sofa covered by English early Twentieth Century needlepoint and an Eighteenth Century petit point medallion. Also attracting attention was a New England dollhouse with an 1857 date and an early Twentieth Century still life oil on canvas of pears and cherries. Among the dealer’s sales were two half round architectural windows.
Westport, Conn., dealer J.B. Richardson’s usual minimalist display of American folk art and primitives was enlivened by a large 1950s Abstract Expressionist painting with looping green and orange cursives against a vibrant red background. Jim was also showing some of his own artwork rendered in acrylic with oil crayon, as well as a massive 14-foot Christmas banner utilizing quilt-style appliqués in a gingerbread man motif.
Gloria Lonergan of Mendham, N.J., was not at the show yet, the booth ably manned by husband Patrick, who seemed at ease to be just shooting the breeze with friends. But when asked about an interesting red painted rocking chair on display, he had to call Gloria. The only details she could provide were “I’ve had it in my home for years. I don’t know anything more than that.” Descriptions were available, however, for a hutch table with a two-board top, a pastel “house” hooked rug and a red painted doughbox table with drawer, circa mid-1800s, from Pennsylvania.
Richard Axtell from Deposit, N.Y., brought an array of early furniture and accessories, including decorated boxes, a great double-sided tavern sign, circa 1820, from Groton, Mass., an all-mahogany sign from the Gold Wedge Saloon & Clubrooms, a California establishment near Sutter’s Mills advertising all kinds of liquors and fine cigars. On another wall was a pair of recently cleaned portraits of a husband and wife done by an unknown American artist on English prepared canvas, circa 1850.
Some of the other exciting dealers in the show were Barry Ezrin from Moffat, Ontario, Canada, with a wonderful untouched and crusty International Order of Foresters honor roll from 1886 to 1901, as well as a working J.W. Fiske cherub fountain of zinc from 1883 and a weathered gray sign stating simply “Post Office Shunk, PA”; Rue du Tresor from New York City with French country redware pottery, decorative arts and accessories; Huntington & Hope from Washington Depot, Conn., with an assortment of French antique linens, English creamware, Sheffield silver and old English books; Edwin C. Ahlberg Antiques from Guilford, Conn., with a booth full of American formal furniture, fine art and brass candlesticks; and American Room Antiques from Chambersburg, Penn, offering tall case clocks and a rare bureau by Rhode Island cabinetmaker John Townsend.
The next show on Barn Star’s calendar is Rhinebeck over Memorial Day Weekend. For information, 845-876-0616 or www.barnstar.com.
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