Published: October 21, 2003
“They have been real loyal and great for my shows,” Jim Burk said recently, speaking of James and Nancy Glazer, who will be exhibiting in the Greater York Antiques Show this fall for the 32nd consecutive year. The show opens on October 31 for the 34th year at the new York Expo Arena at the York Fairgrounds.
Burk recalls his 1992 show when it was time to hand out contracts for the next York Show. It was a sad time in the lives of Jim and Nancy Glazer, as Jim was battling cancer and was the first to admit “things did not look good.” Jim Burk said, “When Glazer handed me his deposit, he asked that if he died before the show would the money be returned. I told him ‘Hell no,’ because I knew the determination and the fighting spirit he had, and the support from Nancy, would win out. And it did.”
The year 1993 was a pivotal time in the Glazer family. “I wanted Nancy to be settled in a good home and we were moving away from Philadelphia where we had lived on Delancey Place from 1966 until that time,” Jim said. A move to Maine, where Nancy wanted to be, happened in 1993 when a farmhouse became available on Bailey Island. “We bought it immediately and then began the task of fixing just about everything at the place,” Jim said. Gray water ran outside to a defunct cesspool, resulting in new plumbing, the electric system needed an upgrade, paint was applied to every wall and the roof had to be fixed. “We redid the whole place, including the construction of a new barn that now houses a garage, with our gallery on the top level,” he said. They also rent a small cottage on an estate in Villanova, Penn., “but that may be coming to an end as the estate is for sale and our future there is uncertain,” Nancy said.
What is not uncertain is the permanence of the home they have made for themselves in Maine. “We love it, it’s home, and we are here to stay,” Jim said. They have come a long and interesting way: Nancy was from Scarsdale, N.Y., and Jim from Philadelphia. Both were students at the University of Pennsylvania and Nancy says, “I met him while he was ‘picking’ one of the girl’s dorms.” That September meeting turned into a June wedding, so fast that “my father did not seem to realize it was all happening,” Nancy said. Along the way they raised two children, Jennifer, the older, who lives in Portland, Maine, and John, living in Denver.
By 1969, Jim was in business holding down a full-time job with Highlander Industries in New York City. Clients included Sears Roebuck, W.G. Grant, F.W. Woolworth, J.C. Penney and Montgomery Ward. “There were over 5,000 stores we handled and supplied merchandise to them, usually over 12 million units. And on top of that, I had to be at all of the festivities every time one of them opened a new store,” Jim said. Jim and Nancy were into the antiques business at the time and he would help setup a show and then go back to his real job while Nancy would do the selling.
“It became too much so in 1972 I left the company and we became full-time dealers,” Jim said, and within two years they had fallen into the good graces of manager Russell Carrell and were on the show circuit. “Russell liked us and we were doing about a dozen of his shows at one point, including his outdoor markets in Ridgefield, Conn., Shaker Museum, Chatham, N.Y., and Cow Pasture in Salisbury, Conn.
“Talk about being in the right place at the right time,” Jim said, recalling doing the Cleveland Show in 1976 and exiting the men’s room just as Russell Carrell came in sight. “He had just hung up the phone with Harry Hartman who informed him that he would be unable to be in the Winter Antiques Show. He looked at me and asked if we were ready for East Side. It was a great day for us,” Jim said.
In 1977 the show catalog for the Winter Antiques Show, page 64, James and Nancy Glazer advertised a “boldly incised stoneware pitcher, 81/2 inches high; a Philadelphia Windsor comb-back armchair, Eighteenth Century, in original paint with provenance available; and a decorated Centre County, Penna. Spice box, Nineteenth Century, 141/2 inches high, 12 inches wide.” Those three rdf_Descriptions still characterize their inventory of high style Pennsylvania and New England furniture, with wonderful accessories including pottery, decorated tole, frakturs and carvings. Every so often another special interest crops up in their booth, such as major folk art objects, architectural rdf_Descriptions, or a collection of occupational shavings mugs.
So what decorates the house in Maine? “We live with and collect the things we could not sell,” Jim said, adding “everything we have has been offered for sale at one time.” Do they miss the objects they sell? “Yes, but one rdf_Descriptions stands out from all of the rest,” Jim said. He referred to a great Pennsylvania German decorated dower chest that ended up at the Philadelphia Art Museum in 1982.
“The piece had been through a few hands and following the death of White Plains dealer Tony Sposato I was able to buy the chest from his son,” he said. “It was a masterpiece and I offered it to our best clients,” he added. Beatrice Garvan heard about it and told him, if he still owned it, to drive it over to the museum and she would present it to the board of directors for purchase. “It was accepted and I was paid in 15 days,” he recalls.
The Glazers travel between Philadelphia and Maine often, using the time to update material in their computer, make phone contacts with clients and other dealers, and hit a few favorite eating places along the way. “Never fast food,” says the former Iron Man competitor. They frequent a number of auction houses, including Pook & Pook, Ron Bourgeault’s Northeast Auction, Skinners, and Horst, and spend time with dealers who share their same interests. “There are many great dealers out there now, some fine ones coming along, and they are constantly raising the bar in this business,” Jim said, adding, “Competition is good for everyone.” He believes dealers get better as they get older and more people want to see them, citing Joe Kindig and Albert Sack as examples.
Will the Glazers retire from the antiques business? “Never,” Jim says, answering for both of them. They love what they are doing, love the objects they sell and enjoy the company of both clients and fellow dealers.
Will they increase the number of shows they are presently doing? Most likely not. With the new gallery they are happy with their show schedule of The Philadelphia Antiques Show, Mid*Week in Manchester in August and both the spring and fall Greater York Antiques Shows.
“The York shows have come a long way, from the time there were no booth walls, no special lighting and just a lot of tables, but the integrity of the show has not faded,” Nancy said. She added the show has its own momentum and “Jim Burk leaves you alone and lets it run.” It is a show where countless gems in the antique world have surfaced, many of them now housed in fine private collections or in museums.
“Early on in York Bill DuPont came into our booth and asked, ‘Do you know anything about antiques?'” Nancy said. Jim replied, “I know they are heavy.” He also knows they are exciting, interesting, eye-pleasing and an important part of their everyday life. “They build a fire in my belly,” he said, and that fire seems to be burning very brightly.
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