Date: Fri 23-Oct-1998
Date: Fri 23-Oct-1998
ADA/Historic Deerfield Antiques Show/with cuts
By Laura Beach
DEERFIELD, MASS. -- With illicit unions rife, marriage can be a dirty word in
the cabinetmaking business. But successful show promotion depends upon making
a happy match among buyers, sellers, a sponsoring organization, and a venue.
After three years of searching for a time and a place to showcase its manifold
talents, the Antiques Dealers Association of America seems to have found both.
The ADA/Historic Deerfield Show that debuted on the grounds of Deerfield
Academy on October 11-12 was a triumphant success. Moreover, it was proof that
there is still room in fall's crowded calendar for events of real creativity
An unsurpassed artistic achievement, the 47-dealer fair showed promising signs
of being a commercial one as well. "Everyone was delighted," said Olde Hope
Antiques' Ed Hild. As co-chairman, his biggest concern was making Historic
Deerfield, Deerfield Academy and exhibitors happy. "Everyone was so easy,
thankful, and respectful. Our organization was really an organization."
"I've had more serious, upbeat reactions from exhibitors than I could have
possibly expected," ADA president and show co-chairman John Keith Russell said
last week. "We had fun doing the show. I know Historic Deerfield did. They had
certain restraints on their time and energies with the opening of the Flynt
Center and Deerfield's bicentennial. There are no such restraints for 1999.
They are thinking Antiques Week in Deerfield, with a whole series of
activities planned for Columbus Day weekend."
It has been three years since the ADA disbanded its White Plains, N.Y., show.
Though superb, the Westchester County Center event never found its following.
Its eventual failure was attributed to awkward summer dates, an overplayed
venue, a weak sponsor, and a counterproductive marketing strategy emphasizing
The new show addressed those defects by supplying fall dates, an aggressive
and hospitable sponsor, and an attractive destination. "Our attendance was at
least twice what it was in White Plains," confirmed Russell.
Deerfield's distance from New York and Boston was not the deterrent some had
feared. For most New Englanders, the trip took less than two hours. The
rewards made the journey worthwhile. Stately Deerfield, a cradle of the
antiquarian movement, embodies traditional New England taste and values. ADA
wisely opened the show at 11 am, sans preview, so that collectors might drive
some distance and still be there when the doors opened.
"Every business person dreams of what things could be," remarked Colchester,
Conn., dealer Arthur Liverant. "Our expectations for Deerfield have come to
fruition. It was a beautiful show. The crowd was enthusiastic and scholarly."
His father, Zeke, predicted, "This is going to be the best show north of New
York. It will bring real collectors to see a remarkable historic village, to
look at good American antiques under the guidance of the ADA."
Aside from a sign reading "Helmuts Required At All Times," there was little to
remind shoppers that they were in Deerfield Academy's hockey rink. "Set up and
pack out went with no hassles or hitches," said Rich Rasso, East Chatham, N.Y.
"You can park ten trucks out front, and customers can pick up on either end.
Weather was the only thing that could have been better."
Exhibitors came from Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Pennsylvania, New Jersey,
New York, Ohio, Massachusetts, Vermont and Virginia with early American
furniture, appropriate accessories, folk art and regional American painting.
The ADA/Historic Deerfield Antiques Show had an intensely New England flavor.
Its most salient features were fine, early furniture in old surface and
outstanding primitive portraiture.
Exhibitors commented on the New England cast to the audience, as well. "I sold
to people I've never seen before," said Ithaca dealer Joan Brownstein. "People
were interested in earlier things. There wasn't as much overlap with Hartford
as you might have expected. People came from New Hampshire or Maine who might
not have come to Hartford."
Offered Glenside, Penn., dealer Marcy Burns, "There was a lot of money walking
around the show. These were collectors, not sightseers." Bob Wilkins, a dealer
from Austerlitz, N.Y., reflected, "You're always going to attract the hardcore
collectors, but this seemed to be different. We made a couple of sales to
brand new people, one of whom was from Rochester."
"Wait until you see what we're bringing to Deerfield," Arthur Liverant had
warned us. In the center of Nathan Liverant & Son's stand was a spectacular
Chippendale cherry bonnet-top secretary with flame finials, stepped
amphitheater interior, bold ogee feet, and original brass hardware. The price
"Everybody wanted to touch it," Liverant said of the tactile Massachusetts
casepiece showing Colchester influence. The secretary may well be from a suite
auctioned at Robert Heron's last year. It closely resembles a secretary with
Colchester history that is in the collection of Historic Deerfield.
Many displays revealed ADA's scholarly ambitions. "The idea was to give people
a side by side look at regional style," Peter Eaton of Newburyport, Mass.,
said of two lowboys in his stand. One, with an inlaid pinwheel top, was a
Portsmouth, N.H., example marked $38,000. Possibly made in Colchester, a
massive Connecticut lowboy with robust carvings was $35,000.
Sheffield, Mass., dealer Sam Herrup had assembled several children's chairs.
Drawing most attention was an outstanding New England infant's high chair with
a simple yoke crest and voluptuous turnings. Dating to 1730, the rare artifact
came from a Long Island family and cost $25,000.
A couple of gutsy looking Queen Anne rush-seat chairs of perfect proportions
and emphatic turnings staked out a hold at David Morey's. The Thomaston, Me.,
dealer was asking $8,500 for the pair of coastal Massachusetts or New
For furniture wonks, the ADA/Historic Deerfield Antiques Show boasted a number
of novel items. Elliott and Grace Snyder of South Egremont, Mass., showed off
a diminutive New England maple desk, $16,500, painted in imitation of burled
veneer. It dated to circa 1780.
An unusual Chippendale server was against Stephen Garner's side wall. The
Massachusetts dealer was also asking $16,500 for what he believes to be a
Rhode Island example.
"I came very surfacey," admitted Colette Donovan, who wove primitive furniture
and early textiles together into a lovely composition of gray and taupe. An
untouched Queen Anne maple drop-leaf table, $10,750, proclaimed its integrity
and Donovan's, as well, with the note: "After much soul searching, toes have
been left unrestored."
Shaker furniture collectors combined Willis Henry's October 11 sale in
Pembroke, Mass., with a trip to Deerfield to see specialists Suzanne
Courcier/Robert Wilkins of Austerlitz, N.Y., and Richard and Betty Ann Rasso
of East Chatham, N.Y.
"We did business," said Rich Rasso, whose centerpiece was a delectable Shaker
cupboard over drawers from Canterbury, N.H. Its surface pristine, the classic
casepiece of 1840 was $48,000. "We were pleased," said Wilkins, who, in
addition to Shaker, unveiled a New England high chest of drawers in red paint,
$24,000. Marked "Hands Patent," its elegant Federal hardware combined brass
and ebonized gutta percha.
A contingent of Pennsylvania dealers added color and diversity. Occupying Skip
Chalfant's booth was a folky four-post bed in green paint and a pair of
Chippendale side chairs with pieced splats, $18,500. A Pennsylvania German
decorated chest of circa 1780, $32,000, and a decorated child's settee,
$16,500, by George Nees of Manheim, Penn., circa 1850, were focal points at
Olde Hope Antiques. Connie and William Hayes of Bellville, Penn., presented a
painted dower chest, $16,500, by Franklin Enas. It is one of several with rare
stamped decoration by this Somerset County, Penn., maker.
"Isn't the show spectacular?" asked Ohio dealer Gary Ludlow. "There's
something for everyone here." He demonstrated his point by putting a Sheraton
applewood card table, $4,900, with a Salem Queen Anne mahogany lowboy,
"The sign should say buy one get one free," quipped Jesse Goldberg of Artemis
Antiques. The North Salem, N.Y., dealer featured a pair of circa 1810 Sheraton
card tables from Salem, Mass. They were $16,500.
Russ and Karen Goldberger were busy showing a beautiful country Hepplewhite
chest of drawers, $6,400. A set of four stepdown Windsor side chairs in gray
paint by Daniel Stewart of Farmington, Me., was $8,950.
"This is a wonderful new show," pronounced Joan Brownstein. "I think it's
going to be major. Most people did quite well." The dealer sold "early smalls.
I didn't sell as much furniture as I would have liked, or paintings. That
Exhibitors took pains with their displays. Lewis Scranton had one of the best.
His pumpkin-colored walls gave off a warm glow, showing to perfection an
assortment of redware, stoneware, tole, tribal rugs, and a country Sheraton
secretary desk by Spooner & Fitch of Athol, Mass. The imaginatively inlaid
casepiece was $25,000.
George Allen and Gordon L. Wyckoff of Raccoon Creek Antiques had shoppers
wondering where to look first. The Bridgeport, N.J., dealers' irresistible
exhibit included a large, architectural trinket box by Ohio craftsman John
Allen Christy, $29,000; an eccentric table in the manner of John Scholl,
$5,800; and a Soap Hollow chest of drawers dated 1876, $23,500.
Massachusetts dealer John Sideli will soon relocate to Sheffield, where he has
acquired the home of old-time dealer Ralph Garfield Jones. Sideli had a rare
Schoharie County grained and paint-decorated chest of 1825, $26,000, and a
Loof carousel figure, $24,000, in original paint.
Outstanding primitive portraiture gave a face to the past. Highland Park,
Ill., dealers Frank and Barbara Pollack lined their walls with likenesses in
oil and watercolor on paper and panel by Shute and Peck. Arresting in their
countenance and detail, a pair of 1838 double portraits of Henry Ehle and Anna
Bellinger was $90,000.
Ruth and Samuel Shute's inky "Portrait of a Young Lady," $12,500, matched the
tones of a hearth rug, $11,000, at Stephen-Douglas, Rockingham, Vt. A double
portrait of children attributed to Springfield, Vt., painter Horace Bundy was
One of the show's major textile buyers happened to be an exhibitor. "We bought
well and we sold a lot," confirmed Stephen Huber. The Old Saybrook, Conn.,
dealer and his wife, Carol, have high hopes for Deerfield. "It's one of the
best shows I've seen in a long, long time," Steve said. The Hubers are taking
orders for their 1999 Sampler Engagement Calendar. It contains 58 color
photographs and descriptions.
"Terrific" was the word from Amy Finkel. "Was it worth the drive from
Philadelphia? Absolutely." Said the Philadelphia dealer, "We sold a dozen
needleworks, including an important sampler. We also sold smalls, but not much
furniture." A Balch School silk embroidery, $18,500, was a highlight of M
Finkel & Daughter's stand.
"Would I go back? Oh, definitely. I have a very good feeling about this show.
It was beautiful and well attended," said Marcy Burns. A specialist in Native
American art, Burns says she is always "a test case. I just never know what to
expect. But I had people in my booth the whole time. There were customers from
New York and from Wilton, and a couple from Virginia said hello." Burns
retailed a classic Navajo child's blanket of vivid red, blue and cream.
The only rain on ADA's parade was just that -- rain. Eleven inches of it fell
in several days, enough to deter some travelers, enough to make parking a
mess, enough to prevent some from touring Historic Deerfield's collections.
Organizers may not be able to control the weather, but hopefully the
ADA/Historic Deerfield Antiques Show will iron out scheduling conflicts next
year. Sotheby's Americana sale in New York and the Rhinebeck Antiques Fair
fell the same weekend as the ADA effort; the Fall Connecticut Antiques Show
was a week before.
"We don't want to compete with Sotheby's, Rhinebeck, or Hartford, but our show
is totally at the discretion of Deerfield Academy," said John Russell, who
awaits confirmation of next year's dates.
A beautiful bride, a handsome groom. Everyone would like to see this marriage
last. "We've always wanted a match," said Historic Deerfield spokesman Grace
Friary. "We've matched the quality of the exhibitors with the quality of our
collections. For the first year, it worked out beautifully. It met every
single expectation we had."