Antiques and the Arts Weekly
By: R. Scudder Smith
Read on Antiques and the Arts Weekly >
MANCHESTER, N.H. — When Michael Sczerzen, the New Hampshire Antiques Show’s floor manager, says, “The show is now open,” he might also add, “Just follow Scott Cook.” Scott is well known as “first in line” at many shows, especially New Hampshire, and this year he gained that position by arriving at the lobby of the Radisson Hotel just after midnight and settled in for a close to ten-hour wait for the show to open.
At 10 am he had lots of company, a gate that pushed 500 people and set an attendance record for the first day of the show. Even with a line that was close to being presold, at 10:30 people were still in line buying tickets. And, like years past that we long remember, it was well worth it. It does not take long for the “measles” look to happen, as little red dots start appearing all over the show as buyers snap up weathervanes, chair tables, trade signs, pottery, fabrics, Shaker boxes and on and on.
The show had a great look, lots of color, a fine mix of objects and visitors and exhibitors seemed to agree that this show was a winner. As several dealers mentioned, they raided their own collections to put on a good show, and it paid off.
It is well known that many of the dealers save objects all year long and put them aside for the New Hampshire show. It really works, as people come from across the United States for the feast.
A set of four polo garden chairs in orange paint stood out against the black background in the booth of Jef and Terri Steingrebe, Springfield, N.H. The chair, two arms and two side, has a cutout horse head on the back of each chair. A cast iron hitching post in old white paint had a seated squirrel on top, and a painted game board table was ready for a game of checkers.
A colorful patchwork schoolhouse quilt, linen and cotton, circa 1800 and of Pennsylvania origin, lit up a corner wall in the booth of Axtell Antiques, Deposit, N.Y. A Schoharie County, N.Y., blanket chest, circa 1820, in the original blue paint with a decorative urn of flowers on the front panel, surrounded by a yellow border with small red flowers was against the front wall, and an interesting kinetic marble toy sculpture with a runway for glass marbles to travel on the way to ringing a bell at the end, was painted pumpkin with green vine decoration and measured about 4 feet tall.
This is the second year at the show for “Smitty” Axtell and he said, “It was better than last year.” He noted selling was strong and his sales included a dry sink, two blanket chests, several pieces of lighting, woodenware, a rare lollypop butter stamp with a cow and eagle design, and the “largest burl bowl I have ever owned, 21½ inches in diameter with side handles, among other things,” Smitty said.
Nancy and Craig Cheney Antiques, Newark, Ohio, hung a painting by Alfred Montgomery (1857–1926), an oil on canvas, still life with corn, signed lower left, and a mirror with an eagle on top measured about 7 feet tall. It came from a fraternal lodge and was embellished with columns and stars on each side. A side wall of the booth featured two carved walnut panels with hunting scenes, including the hunter, his dog and the bird taking the shot.
Bill Kelly Antiques, Limington, Maine, had an 1815 New York-style stepback cupboard cleaned down to the old blue/gray painted surface, over red, that was filled with oval boxes, small baskets, pantry boxes and a couple of burl bowls. A circa 1780–1800 Maine four-drawer chest that ascended in the original family in Backfield, Maine, retained the original red surface, and an Eighteenth Century New England candlestand, old green paint, circa 1730–1760, was ex Roger Bacon.
There is still time this summer to add garden sculptures or porch furniture, both of which were offered at the booth of Kate Alex & Co., Warner, N.H. An impressive pair of facing cast iron eagles in gray paint, worn and weathered surface, were once prominent on a stone wall, and a late Nineteenth Century fan table, aesthetic period with naturalistic motif, would fit nicely on porch or patio. A pre-Civil War book press retained the original paint and was decorated with high relief flowers, shell and scroll designs.
Frank & Barbara Pollack American Antiques & Art, Highland Park, Ill., and Sunapee, N.H., had a large booth on the lower level of the show and filled it with many bright and colorful pieces. With floral decoration against a red ground, a Pennsylvania blanket chest, South Glen Rock, York County, was of pine and poplar, circa 1860, with turned feet and applied split baluster turnings. A pair of portraits showed a young couple seated in red chairs, New England, oil on academy board, circa 1840, attributed to George G. Hartwell (1815–1901) of Prior Hamblen School. A pair of wall plaques with carved and painted fish, Pennsylvania, 1920–1930, depicted a sunfish, yellow perch, white perch and pickerel, the largest fish measuring 23 inches long.
A monumental Dutch long neck storage jar, circa 1800, with Nineteenth Century stork decoration, was displayed on its own shelf in the booth of Jeff & Holly Noordsy Art and Antiques, Cornwall, Vt. A collection of New England chestnut bottles dated circa 1790–1820, and in addition to glass the dealers had a nice horse and jockey weathervane with good surface, and a cast iron eagle millweight in the original paint.
Nathan Liverant and Son, Colchester, Conn., had a Queen Anne maple, oak and pine hutch table with scrubbed top, circa 1735–1760, Hudson River Valley, and in one corner perched a carved architectural eagle, American, of Eastern white pine. This carving, dated circa 1790–1815, was possibly from New England, and was in as-found condition. Shown on top of a chest was a fine nest of six Nantucket swing handle baskets by R. Folger of Nantucket. In original condition, the nest dated circa 1870–1895.
“When the show first opened I stepped out of my booth to make more room, and the space filled up so fast I had a hard time getting back in to talk to clients,” Priscilla Hutchinson of East Dennis, Mass., said. A gilded wooden arrow from the Buck Printing Co. building on Washington Street, Boston, was shown on the back wall of the booth, a piece measuring 58 inches long and dating from the Nineteenth Century. In the middle of the booth was a country Hepplewhite table with a one-board scrubbed maple top, New Hampshire origin, circa 1800 and retaining traces of the original red paint, and against the back wall was a six-board chest on raised feet in blue, with three large wooden bowls on top with salmon, yellow and blue/green surfaces.
Meryl Weiss of American Classics, Canaan, N.H., had a shoe store bench that dated from the mid-Twentieth Century and advertised “Poll Parrot Shoes for Boys & Girls” on both ends, along with a illustration of a parrot perched on a branch. Dating from the same period was a painted carving of an eagle devouring a snake, a Southern object, and another eagle carving depicted a large, gilded spreadwing bird on a rock, late Nineteenth Century, Maine origin.
MG Art & Antiques, Merrimac, Mass., offered a carved egret on a driftwood stand, early Twentieth Century, and a early turned wood bowl, blue surface, measuring 23½ inches in diameter.
There were few, if any, of the “old-timers” who came to the show who could not relate to “The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co.” sign that hung dead center in the booth of Thomas R. Longacre Antiques, Marlborough, N.H. This sign, oil on canvas, had gold letters on a black triangular ground, centered on a red field and framed. “We have had this sign for many years and it came from the side of a horse-drawn wagon, circa 1905,” Bev Longacre said. It was one of the first things sold as the show opened, as was a copper arrow banner weathervane with old verdigris surface, circa 1893, attributed to Fiske.
A banister back armchair with sausage-turned front posts, original button feet, early Nineteenth Century, came out of a home in Littleton, N.H. “We had a great show, people were buying like the old days, and there were red dots all over the show,” Tom said. He named a few of his sales, including a car weathervane, three game boards, a Boston portrait, model of a sidewheeler, wooden trolley, wine & liquor trade sign and many smalls. Bev mentioned that Tom had an operation and spent some time in the hospital during the cold months, but that did not slow him down. “While in the hospital one day he bid at auction by phone and got two of the three lots he was interested in,” Bev said.
There is really no need to put up a booth sign for M. Finkel & Daughter, Philadelphia, for that booth is easily recognized after Amy Finkel has finished and the walls are covered with early samplers. Centered on the back wall was a needlework sampler by 10-year-old Mary Coffin of Newburyport, Mass., dated 1801. It is from the Shady Dower group and came out of the Ralph Esmerian collection. A few pieces of furniture complement the samplers, including a long-leaf pine double chest with eight drawers, circa 1850, possibly a Southern piece, and a Canadian Mennonite settee, mortised and tenon construction, original red and black painted surface, and dating from the third quarter of the Nineteenth Century.
RJG Antiques, Russ and Karen Goldberger, Rye, N.H., offered an oval chair table in pine with scrubbed top, shoe feet, two-board top, Maine origin and dating from the mid-Eighteenth Century, and hanging on the back wall was a pair of matched child’s ladder back side chairs, circa 1830, New England or New York State, in the original chrome yellow paint. The chairs were ex Rasso collection. Against a side wall was a yellow decorated federal dressing table, 1810–1820, probably Portsmouth, N.H., of basswood and pine. Listed as a museum-quality piece, the table had a shaped skirt and sides.
“The show has been excellent,” Russ said, producing a stack of sales slips for two game wheels, a two-drawer blanket chest in blue, potty chair in red, a rare carved passenger pigeon, a Mason shore bird, two hooked rugs, checkerboard, dome top decorated box and a Canada goose by George Boyd.
Two trade signs, one for “Native Potatoes” and the other, in the shape of a two-man saw, read “Saws Sharpened & Wood Cut,” hung in the booth of Michael & Lucinda Seward, Pittsford, Vt., and furniture in the booth included an Eighteenth Century tiger maple tap table with one-board top and turned legs, and a round lazy Susan table of Southern origin. The booth looked a bit sparse by the end of the day Wednesday, as sales included an inlaid card table, two-drawer blanket chest of Vermont origin, a couple of Shaker boxes, a large yellow Apache basket, painted wall box, three pieces of redware, coin silver pitcher and porringer, hour glass, bird carving and a piece of New Hampshire pottery.
Olde Hope Antiques of New Hope, Penn., had an attractive booth at the front of the show with lots of color and shapes. Against a side wall stood a stack of 12 graduated Shaker boxes, maple with pine lids, copper tacks, that measured 45 inches high. The boxes dated from the mid-Nineteenth Century, Northeast United States, and were in original paint in shades of yellow, red, green, blue and brown. A rare form stag weathervane, American, circa 1880–1890, with the original surface, 21½ inches long and 31 inches high, sold on the first day, as did a large, round bentwood storage box with lid, Pennsylvania, circa 1820, oak and pine with original yellow painted finish and hand painted floral decoration. It measured 12¼ inches high and 18½ inches in diameter.
“We sold the table in the middle of the booth to a couple from North Carolina, and they called back later and also took the four Windsor side chairs around it,” Ed Hild said. He also mentioned the sale of a large eagle weathervane, chandelier with wire arms, an 1843 Pennsylvania quilt and more major things than the smaller accessories. Pat Bell added, “We sold to people from many parts of the country, including Texas, Florida, Illinois, West Coast, New Hampshire and several more New England states.”
Joshua and Mary Steenburgh, Pike, N.H., had a circa 1830 oil on canvas view of Franconia Notch from Campton/Thorton, N.H., and a stack of wood containers including pails, buckets and round boxes with various labels including “Whole Spice,” “Sugar,” Bone Meal,” “Milk,” “Flour” and “Lentils.” “It took 14 years to collect them,” Joshua said, referring to a row of 22 flat irons, all painted in various colors including yellow, blue, green, blue and white.
Lewis W. Scranton of Killingworth, Conn., had his usual selection of redware, including an ABC plate, and a tall case clock, paint decorated case and R. Whiting — Winchester signed dial. A dome top chest was decorated with a village and river scene on top.
Ed Weissman traveled up from Naples, Fla., to do the show, offering a Queen Anne cedar side chair from Bermuda, circa 1760–1770, and a cherry tall case clock by Williams Cummens, Roxbury, Mass., measuring 88 inches high. Against the back wall was a diminutive bun foot chest in walnut, Netherlands, circa 1730, with overall floral marquetry decoration.
Jason Samuel Fine Art & Antiques, Milford, N.H., placed a sculpture by Carol Miller, “Feline,” at the front of his booth, a signed and dated bronze figure, 1972, measuring 56 inches tall. A Nineteenth Century carousel horse in park paint was at the back of the booth, and a Chippendale chest on frame in walnut dated from the Eighteenth Century and was of Pennsylvania origin.
The back wall in the booth of Suzanne Courcier and Robert W. Wilkins of Yarmouth Port, Mass., was dominated by a room-size wool rug, hooked on burlap, depicting a Maine harbor scene and measuring 82 by 78 inches. It dated circa 1945. Beneath the rug was an American sea chest in pine, circa 1856, in Prussian blue paint and with the original becket handles. The interior of the lid was painted with a nautical scene, including three sailing ships.
An 1816 Sunrise Tavern sign that originally hung outside J. Wilder’s establishment in Hillsboro, N.H., was of pine, measured 38 by 39 inches, and retained the original iron hangers. “This has been an excellent show for smalls, and we have done very well,” Suzanne said. Among the pieces they sold were a fine game board, several baskets, a shark box, a large hanging shelf, a painted box and several hooked rugs.
Peter Sawyer Antiques, Exeter, N.H., filled his booth with furniture, including a tall chest on frame, circa 1790, with three short drawers over five long drawers, scrolled apron and short cabriole legs. It measured 38½ inches high. A Federal fall front secretary-desk, Concord or Newburyport, dated circa 1800–1810 and likely was the work of George Rogers. It retained the original brasses marked “HJ” for Thomas Hands and William Jenkins. A rare tall case clock by Benjamin Clark Gilman, Exeter, N.H., retained the original bill of sale.
“We sold a number of pieces of furniture,” Peter reported, listing a tavern table, Chippendale wing chair, card table and Dunlap candlestand, as well as several White Mountain paintings, the Titcomb & Bellamy clock, candlesticks and a pocket watch.
A large terracotta rooster and its mate in colorful polychrome paint were displayed on a table against the back wall in the booth of Stephen-Douglas, Rockingham, Vt. The sculptures, dating from the Twentieth Century, were of Pennsylvania origin and came from the Machmer collection. Furniture included a William and Mary single arch, ball foot blanket chest in old yellow paint over the original red. The provenance lists “Gunner” Holmes, with shop in Cornwall Bridge and New Milford, Conn. A single door corner cupboard in old red was filled to capacity with smalls, including pantry boxes, an iron latch, treen plates, small baskets and carvings.
Doug Jackman noted, “The show has been very good, lots of selling,” citing sales that included a decorated dresser, ball foot blanket chest, two banister back armchairs, several hooked rugs, a tavern sign and many smalls. “This year people seem to be making up their minds more quickly and this show continues to shine,” Stephen Corrigan said.
When Judy and James Milne first exhibited in the New Hampshire Antiques Show, they were on the left side of the lower level room. Last year they were moved to the first level, holding down a booth on the right toward the back of the show. This year visitors found them with more space after moving toward the front of the show and taking over the booth occupied for many year by Ron and Penny Dionne, who are no longer doing the show. With a larger space, they showed more things, including a hand crocheted rug, very bright and graphic, round and dating circa 1930.
And with room to spare, they offered a 12-foot-long country store display table, circa 1860, as well as a life-size pair of cast iron whippets, circa 1880. Several wood carvings were available, including a folky pair of owls. “I can’t remember the last time we sold furniture,” Judy said, “and this year we sold three pieces the first day, including a fanback Windsor armchair, an oval top chair table and a stepback cupboard.” A couple of weathervanes and numerous smalls were also sold, leading Jim to remark, “There was great energy on the floor and not the resistance to buying there has been in years past.”
Bob Jessen and Jim Hohnwald, Fitzwilliam, N.H., had an open top, cant back pewter cupboard with three shelves on top and blind doors on the lower section, Maine origin and dating from the late 1700s. “We sold that cupboard over 20 years ago and we were able to buy it back just recently,” Bob said. A rare tabletop desk with fall front, maple and chestnut, dated from the Eighteenth Century and was probably from Rhode Island. It measured 24 inches wide, 13 inches deep and 11 inches high. A tavern table with one-board top measuring 38 by 23 inches, breadboard ends, dovetailed drawer, stretcher base, was of New England origin and dated circa 1750–1800.
Jewett-Berdan Antiques, Newcastle, Maine, offered a circa 1910 whirligig by Henry Sargent of Wilmington, Mass., with Uncle Sam sawing wood, a figure driven from a rotating fan housed in a round cages at the opposite end. Sargent operated a bike repair shop and made these whirligigs in his spare time. He charged a penny per minute for working on bikes and went by the nickname “Henny Penny.” A carved wooden pike from a Wisconsin lodge, with detailed painting, had a removable head and was said to have been used to hide a bottle of whiskey. A shooting gallery in the shape of a fox was of cast iron, and a bench, circa 1830, Ohio area, was yellow with green grapes and leaves decorations.
“The show has been good for us,” “Butch” Berdan said, mentioning sales of a portrait, decorated box, oyster sign, double Davis watercolor and all of their miniatures, including one on ivory by Brewster.
Pam Boynton / Martha Boynton, Groton, Mass., hung a stumpwork/woolwork piece depicting flowers and vines, in the original frame and of Maine origin. A rocking horse, paint decorated, was signed Crandall, and a portrait by H. Buney of Jane Clay was signed, dated and sold. Two pieces of furniture left the booth the first day, an Eighteenth Century chest and a small cupboard, as well as a decorated round box.
A graphic hunter and his dog, the hunter about 4 feet tall, retained the original painted surface on copper, early Twentieth Century, probably a lodge sign, took up most of the back wall in the booth of Ken and Robin Pike of Nashua, N.H. A riverboat model found in New Hampshire was constructed with great detail, and a Nineteenth Century life-size sheep came out of a store window. The sheep had a wood frame with fabric over straw stuffing.
“The show has been really good, as usual, and I had to bring in more things and redo the booth for the second day,” Michael Whittemore of Punta Gorda, Fla., said. On opening day his booth contained, among other things, a blue cupboard that was filled with redware pottery, a large model of the steamship The Florida, circa 1907, and a 6-foot-tall figure of a minuteman, carved pine, dating from the late Nineteenth Century, dressed in uniform, including a tri-corner hat and holding a long rifle. An 8-foot long wood carved alligator that was once a trade sign was in the booth the second day, taking the space where the cupboard moved out.
“People were really in a buying mood, lots of energy,” Michael said, as he listed some of his sales, including an Indian weathervane, two game boards, painted blanket chest, redware pieces, and a Philadelphia tea table.
A cigar store figure carved by Thomas Brooks, New York City, circa 1860, stood in the booth of Fred Giampietro, New Haven, Conn., with a carved wooden figure of a seated, howling dog in brown, black and white nearby. Crawling across the side was of the booth was a large snake, very colorful in rings of black, yellow and red paint decoration. It dated from the Twentieth Century. “This is always a very good show and I sold the Indian shortly after it opened,” Fred said.
Gail and Don Piatt of Contoocook, N.H., held down their regular spot at the back of the show and filled the booth with lots of furniture and a case filled with smalls. A tea or tavern table dating from the Eighteenth Century had a one-board pine top with shaped corners and a birch base. “We bought this table from John Philbreck 21 years ago and have enjoyed it all those years,” Gail said. Another piece they have lived with for a long time, purchased in the early l980s from the George Morrell collection, was a New Hampshire blanket chest in old red over the original red, dating from the Eighteenth Century. A chair table, ex John Walton, had a three-board top measuring 56 inches in diameter.
A bench table with lidded base and three-board top measuring 5 feet 2 inches by 35 inches, was shown by Sharon Platt American Antiques, Portsmouth, N.H., along with a display of Eighteenth Century New England treen including bowls, plates and a soap box carved from one piece of wood.
“Everyone asks how many pieces of pewter do we have in our booth,” Bette Wolf of Flint, Mich., said, “and I try to come up with a number, generally around 500 to 600 pieces.” Melvyn Wolf, who is generally busy setting up most of the booth, took time to point out a couple of special pieces they brought with them, including a large tankard, circa 1782–1800, by Peter Young who worked in both Albany and New York City, and an English set of 14 graduated measures dating from the Nineteenth Century.
Nine game boards, including checkers, Parcheesi and backgammon, just about filled one wall in the booth of John Chaski Antiques, Camden, Del., and on the opposite was a 75-inch-long carved wood American alligator was resting, with mouth wide open. It dated circa 1880. A cast iron horse head hitching post had a very well defined post, and a New England paint decorated pine blanket chest with center drop and bold feet, dated circa 1830 and was in vibrant yellow and ochre vinegar surface.
A pair of oil on canvas portraits of Alfred Gowing Carter and Carolyn Sheldon Carter of Woburn, Mass., stood out on the back wall of the booth of Resser-Thorner Antiques, Manchester, N.H. The portraits were by Samuel P. Howes (American, 1806–1881). A carved and painted wood eagle by John Haley Bellamy, holding a banner reading “Don’t Give Up The Ship” was also on the back wall.
It was like going to a dog pound to enter the booth of Steven F. Still Antiques, Manheim, Penn., with a cast iron pair of whippets lying on a 38½-by-10¼-inch base to the left of the booth. The pair dated from the late Nineteenth Century and were attributed to Fisk. At the cent of the booth was a folk art figure of a reclining dog sculptured from black sandstone, 25 inches long, probably English and dating from the mid-Nineteenth Century. Standing by was a zinc whippet garden figure, 35½ inches high, of the Nineteenth Century, and looking down on all of this from the back wall was a folk art painting of a dog on a sofa, circa 1890, oil on canvas, 38½ by 54½ inches, from the collection of Milly McGehee. And there was no vet in sight.
“Trail of the Snowshoes” was the title of an oil on canvas that hung center on the back wall of Brock & Co., Concord, Mass. This work by William Baxter Palmer Closson (1848–1926) was signed lower left, measured 30 by 40 inches, and was in the original frame.
Cherry Gallery of Damariscotta, Maine, had an interesting coat and umbrella rack made from a number of canoe paddles, a boat at the bottom to catch the water off the umbrellas, and a mirror in a life ring in the center at eye level. A couple pieces of Old Hickory included a settee, and a wall rack included a number of carvings including owls, mourning dove, woodcock and purple finch.
A Maine chair table with shoe feet and two-board top, 47 inches in diameter, circa 1800–1820 was offered by Newsom & Berdan, Thomasville, Penn., along with a large swimming swan decoy from Chincoteague Island Waterfowl Museum in cottonwood. The maker is unknown, probably from the Carolinas or Virginia. Betty Berdan is known to have a fancy for old brooms, and has been known to have a dozen at one show. She had only three in New Hampshire, and remarked, “I flew in on one of them and carried the other two.”
A pastel portrait of a young child holding flowers, bittersweet dress, early Nineteenth Century and of New England origin, was in the booth of The Norwoods’ Spirit of America, Timonium, Md. They also offered five hand puppets, including a “Professor” and “Sister Sally,” and a pair of child’s sleds were decorated, one with a running horse and the other with an eagle and shield.
John H. Rogers Antiques, New London, N.H., was new to the show this year and came loaded for bear with a large count of wooded pieces, including plenty of butter prints, bowls, scoops and more. “This show was everything I have always heard about it, and even better,” John said, and his sales included more than a dozen butter stamps, two major cookie boards attributed to Cooper, a Shaker lemon squeezer, burl bowls and handled scoops.
“I brought along a selection of blue Staffordshire, but when I placed all of my wood, there was no room on the shelves,” John said. Sales the first day freed up two plus shelves, so out came the Staffordshire.
Traveling the greatest distance to do the show were Michael and Diana Douglas of American Garage, Los Angeles. They set up a booth filled with eye-catching pieces, including trade signs, game boards, weathervanes and architectural objects. New to the show this year, Michael said, “We have visited the show for many years and it was a great feeling to be on the other side this time. It is a great show and we are very happy to be here.”
The popularity of the New Hampshire Show never seems to dim, it always shines brightly, and people leave the show planning next year’s visit. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, August 6-7-8.