Published: May 7, 2002
: The Southport-Westport Antiques Show
By Liza Montgomery
WESTPORT, CONN. – A soaking spring rain could not dampen spirits or cast a shadow on the 38th annual Southport-Westport Antiques Show, presented by the Near & Far Aid Association, Inc, and the Antiques Council, which previewed at The Fairfield County Hunt Club April 25 and closed April 28.
The event continued its tradition as one of Fairfield County’s finest and most beautiful sources for antiques, fine art and decorative objects, and remains an important fundraiser for Near & Fair Aid, an all-volunteer organization serving the county’s residents in need, including the homeless, the elderly, abused children and families at risk. Near & Far distributed nearly $600,000 to 68 agencies last year. Southport-Westport’s elegant preview was supported by Chase and JP Morgan Private Bank, and may have, according to preliminary calculations, numbered some 850 in attendance. Exhibitors in booths close to the entrance reported an increase in patrons throughout the weekend as well.
Seventy well-known dealers — 16 of them new to the event — featured everything from Seventeenth to Nineteenth Century American and European antiques and fine art, to folk art, ceramics, silver and other metalware, clocks and scientific instruments, antiquarian books and Oriental rugs. A special and well-received loan exhibit, “Drums A’ Beating, Colors Flying,” showcased a private collection of Revolutionary War-period American antiques and documents, presented by museum consultant, dealer and author Bill Guthman.
“Because Fairfield County figured so prominently in the American Revolution,” writes Guthman in the show catalog, “and because patriotism and Americana have become focal points…since the events of September 11…[we] decided to present a loan exhibition dedicated to this nation’s birth.”
Dedicated, too, was this year’s catalog to the memory of dealer Pat Guthman, a founding member of the Antiques Council, who passed away January 28. “Pat will be remembered for many things: her infectious sense of humor, the twinkle in her eye, her expert knowledge of the antiques world, her no-nonsense business acumen, her devotion to Near & Far Aid, her energy and stalwart faith,” the tribute stated. “Pat was and will remain the mainstay of our antiques show as long as it endures.”
“Pat had set forth a list of goals for the show last summer and the committee is to be commended for the extra care they took to try to meet every single one of them,” said Karen DiSaia of Oriental Rugs, Ltd, Old Lyme, Conn., the council’s liaison for the event. “Committee members have been very enthusiastic. At the same time, they understand they’re not ‘there’ yet.”
Special programs accompanying the show included a Designer’s Breakfast on Friday, hosted by interior designer Albert Hadley. Attendance was “by invitation only” and drew some 150 decorators, who toured the floor with Hadley and made purchases. “The breakfast was very well attended and produced sales for myself and many other dealers,” said the Council’s new administrator, Randall Decoteau of Randall E. Decoteau Antiques & Fine Arts, Warren, Mass.
A brunch and panel discussion, “If This Table Could Talk,” featuring members of the PBS series Antiques Road Show, was presented on Sunday morning. The panel included Bill Guthman; dealer Peter Curran of Peter Curran Antiques and Appraisals, Wilton, Conn.; dealer Wayne Pratt of Wayne Pratt & Co., Woodbury, Conn.; and dealer Leigh Keno of Leigh Keno Antiques, New York City. The program was moderated by Johanna McBride, editor of The Catalogue of Antiques & Fine Arts.
Of the subjects covered during the talk — such as collecting Americana, connoisseurship, auctions, changes in the market, and “what’s hot” (Surprise! Folk art and patriotic rdf_Descriptions) — discussion surrounding what defines a reputable dealer generated some controversy with Southport-Westport exhibitors. Audience members, however, were reportedly pleased with the panel’s lively interaction.
“Overall, it was excellent,” commented Pam Guthman, who heads publicity and advertising for the show. “The program promoted self-teaching and research, and that the most important thing is to buy what you like, not what you think you should invest in. And it did what it was supposed to do, bringing in new people [using] the ‘celebrities’ of the Roadshow and encouraging them to buy.”
Sales on the floor, as with all shows, produced mixed results for dealers. First-time exhibitor Joan R. Brownstein, Ithaca, N.Y., was happy with her experience. “Attendance was good and sales were certainly gratifying,” she told us. “I sold a circa 1800-20 diminutive inlaid country Federal cherry secretary with original brass pulls in thistle pattern stamped ‘H.J.’ Hands and Jenkins, Birmingham, for $28,000. I’ll certainly return in 2003.” Brownstein also featured a pair of husband and wife folk portraits, circa 1835-40, attributed to Ammi Phillips, for $48,000. The pair was listed in the American Folk Art Museum’s 1980 publication Revisiting Ammi Phillips.
“Southport-Westport was strong this year,” said Victor Weinblatt, of South Hadley, Mass., “with good sales across the board for me, after a couple of disappointing years at the Hunt Club.”
Among the many antiques flying out of Weinblatt’s booth and into the hands of buyers were a large demilune table with scrubbed top and early red on the base, a stretcher base table in original blue, a diminutive one-drawer lift top blanket chest in robin’s-egg blue, a bombe stand in blue, a boathouse lifesaving cabinet, several lemon gold mirrors, two figural hooked rugs, andirons, game boards, decoys, and trade signs, including a country store example reading “Fresh Beef.”
“The show has a very loyal following in the towns of Southport, Westport and in Fairfield County,” continued Weinblatt. “Many of these [people] go to only one or two shows a year, and come [to this one] determined to buy.”
Third-year Southport-West-port exhibitor Norma Chick, of Norma Chick/Autumn Pond Antiques, Woodbury, Conn., enjoyed a similar response. “I had a successful show, mainly selling Seventeenth and early Eighteenth Century Delft and English delftware to collectors. I also sold two Nineteenth Century weather-vanes.”
Other dealers, although not so fortunate with buyers, still remain enthusiastic about the show’s solidity. “I always believe that the success of a show can rarely be measured accurately until weeks, if not months, afterwards,” remarked Jeff Cooley of The Cooley Gallery, Old Lyme, Conn., specialists in American — and particularly Connecticut — paintings from 1850 to 1920. “I do think it is one of the handsomest and richest shows for material and breadth of offerings. People who are not coming are truly missing a big and grand display!”
And grand it was. Outstanding furniture highlights, almost too numerous to mention, included, in the booth of Christopher T. Rebollo, Mechanicsville, Penn., a pair of Federal carved mahogany side chairs, Hartford, circa 1800, for $80,000, and an early Queen Anne Massachusetts highboy with burl and herringbone veneers, Boston or Salem, circa 1740, priced $70,000.
Thomas Schwenke, Inc, Woodbury, Conn., offered a Federal Pennsylvania carved and inlaid cherrywood scroll top secretary desk on flaring French feet, circa 1800, for $65,000, and a Federal mahogany lolling chair hailing from coastal Massachusetts area or New Hampshire, circa 1785, tagged $16,500. Peter Curran Antiques & Appraisals, Wilton, Conn., displayed a wonderful, diminutive oval writing desk, probably Massachusetts, circa 1800, for $14,000.
Marie Plummer and John Philbrick, North Berwick, Maine, featured a New Hampshire blanket chest with till and three mock drawers over three graduated drawers on a tall bracket base in original red paint, for $17,000, while the eyecatchers at Maria & Peter Warren Antiques, Southport, Conn., were a cherry four-drawer chest on ogee feet, circa 1790, priced $6,300, and “The Villanova,” by Otis Cook (1895-1980), a work reflecting the artist’s studies with Emile Gruppe, for $6,500. Flanking this were lithographs of birds by Alexander Wilson, engraved by A. Lawson.
A highlight in the booth of Irvin and Dolores Boyd, Fort Washington, Penn., was a set of four Pennsylvania Windsor chairs, circa 1800, in poplar, maple, hickory and ash, for $3,000. Also offered was a Federal cherry, maple and poplar Dutch cupboard, circa 1810-40, for $13,700; a large painting of saddled horse by James Loder, Bath, England, circa 1843; and a charming pair of lithographs of “The Sailor’s Adieu” and “The Sailor’s Return,” by Nathaniel Currier, circa 1840-60, before his partnership with James Ives, an excellent buy at $2,750.
Queen Anne still reigned at Jeffrey Tillou Antiques, Litchfield, Conn., in the form of a bonnet top highboy, circa 1750-70, in cherry with white pine secondary wood, priced $68,000. A zinc and iron boot shop trade sign, circa 1850, was $7,500, and a New England running horse weathervane, circa 1880-90, was offered for $13,500. Wayne Pratt, Woodbury, Conn., showcased the Sanford family Chippendale cherry desk-and-bookcase, circa 1780, attributed to Elijah Booth, Woodbury.
Washington, D.C., dealers Keyser-Hollingsworth, Inc displayed a Massachusetts mahogany Hepplewhite sideboard, circa 1790, priced $58,000. One of the most unusual fine art offerings in the show was their large (50.5 by 33 inches) Eighteenth Century oil on canvas, “Allegory of the New World,” depicting a decidedly European-looking Indian maiden and child, tagged $85,000.
New Jersey antiques could be found at Saje Americana, of Short Hills, who displayed a Hackensack corner cupboard in blue, circa 1790, for $26,500. Their booth also included a four-drawer Hepplewhite bird’s-eye and mahogany chest, New England, circa 1800.
Hanes & Ruskin, Old Lyme, Conn., featured a lovely pair of husband and wife folk portraits, a couple hailing from Newtown, Conn., painted on pine panels, circa 1825, for $12,500. The booth of Judd Gregory, Dorset, Vt., was dominated by a large, rare Spanish Colonial desk, mahogany, circa 1770, for $16,500.
Wonderful Pennsylvania rdf_Descriptions at Diana H. Bittel, Bryn Mawr, Penn., included a blanket chest in original paint, circa 1830, for $16,500, upon which was a Rochester Iron Works rooster weathervane, New Hampshire, with yellow paint, circa 1860. Ballyhack Antiques, Cornwall, Conn., displayed a barbershop carved horse by Stein & Goldstein, Philadelphia, 1910-20, in old surface, priced at $22,000. A wooden painted train, which once stood under eaves and over a ticket booth in Redding, Conn., before being placed in the care of one of the train’s conductors since the early 1920s, was $16,500, and an absolutely gorgeous Poughkeepsie, N.Y., album quilt, dated 1891, was $19,500.
Outstanding English offerings included, at Gary E. Young, Centreville, Md., an English kidney-shaped desk by Gillows, signed, circa 1850, tagged $85,000. Jackson Mitchell, Inc, Wilmington, Del., displayed a pair of Eighteenth Century flintlock pistols signed by the maker, Whatley, English, circa 1790, for $9,800, atop an English Regency library writing table, mahogany, circa 1810, priced $39,500. In the booth of Kuttner Antiques, Sheffield, Mass., was a set of eight (two armchairs and six side chairs) English Regency mahogany inlaid chairs, circa 1810-25, priced $16,000.
At Christine Vining Antiques, Marblehead, Mass., a Yorkshire high dresser, circa 1800, with unusual pierced cornice, at $22,000, was filled with an Eighteenth Century English Derby dinner service in the Imari palette, and an English oak cupboard, circa 1800-20, glowed with a selection of pewter.
King-Thomasson, Asheville, N.C., featured a Chinese export painted leather trunk with camphorwood lining, circa 1870, for $5,800; a Windsor comb back armchair of ash and elm wood, English, circa 1780, for $13,500; and an Irish housekeepers cupboard, circa 1860, for $18,500.
A French bronze architectural lion, Nineteenth Century, at $21,500, drew the eye to Cheryl and Paul Scott, Hillsborough, N.H., and the booth of The Finnegan Gallery, Chicago, was highlighted by a late Nineteenth Century French polychromed ceiling medallion with four angels, tagged $12,000.
Asian specialists Vallin Galleries, Wilton, Conn., offered a “Cinnabar lacquer” carved red and ochre begonia vase, Qianlong Period, with scenes of scholars in gardens, 17 inches high, behind which were hung a pair of Ming Dynasty ancestor portraits.
Clocks were well represented by Charles Edwin, Inc, Louisa, Va. Front and center was a large English turret movement meant to drive a public clock, dated 1900 and priced $7,500. A George III period mahogany longcase clock by Robert Wood, London, circa 1800, approximately 6’7″ high, was offered for $43,000.
If ceramics could talk, those presented by Suchow & Seigel Antiques, New York City, would tell remarkable stories, in the form of Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century German and Dutch creations, Eighteenth Century creamware, and Nineteenth Century Chinese export porcelain. More unusual rdf_Descriptions included a large mortar dated 1656, made for John Care; a Nuremberg brass alms dish of the Annunciation, dated 1525; and a copper bookplate for Caspar Waser, a theologian, scholar and professor of the Seventeenth Century. Fascinating Westerwald figurines of a gentleman and a monkey holding a tray for “pounce,” or fine sand used to blot early documents, were a particular favorite.
All in all, Southport-Westport proved once again that excellent dealers, a hard-working committee, professional management and lovely surroundings create a winning combination able to withstand the gloomiest forecasts, whether economic or meteorological. As one dealer summed it up, “The tony Hunt Club, for all its supposed cache, is physically a very difficult one for dealers to operate in, but the camaraderie and collegiality of an Antiques Council show overcomes these facility limitations.”
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm