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Peabody Essex Museum Antiques Show

November 28-30, 2008

Review By Frances McQueeney-Jones Mascolo

Photos By David S. Smith

SALEM, MASS. — One of this historic maritime city’s most favored traditions is the Peabody Essex Museum Antiques Show, which has set up shop the day after Thanksgiving every year since 1972. It is a dependable respite from turkey and stuffing — entrance to the show is free with museum admission — and the majority of the dealers return each year to a loyal client base.

The aesthetic connection between the objects for sale and the ones on view in the surrounding galleries is compelling. Nearly every object for sale by the dealers bears some relationship to the objects on view in the museum. Spread out on the second floor of the 1825 East India Marine Hall, the show links to the adjacent Asian and American holdings. The spectacular modern addition resonates with the modern material offered by many dealers.

The preview party draws an enthusiastic crowd and it is unfailingly a sparkling and well-organized event. This year was no exception: the music was lively, the hors d’oeuvres tempting and plentiful and the bars accessible. Sold stickers began appearing during the preview and continued over the weekend.

Marine paintings for sale from Stonington, Conn., dealer Roberto Freitas scored nicely. He sold the James E. Buttersworth oil on board “Ship Caught in a Storm” and had serious interest in an Alfred Thompson Bricher seascape that looked to be a Newport scene. A Boston Chippendale reverse serpentine chest is also under consideration. He had a 1798 Pennsylvania blanket chest and clocks included an Aaron Willard mahogany tall clock, circa 1800, and a Federal cherry example with fan inlay.

Venetian views attracted interest in the booth of Woodbury, Conn., dealer David Brooker Fine Art, who also showed “The Coast Guard at Work” by Thomas Buttersworth to a receptive audience.

Marine was also on tap in the Heller Washam booth where a pair of mahogany ship’s gangway boards from a US naval vessel was for sale. One was carved with a cornucopia overflowing with coins, the other with an eagle and shield. A 30-inch carved pilot house eagle was also for sale, as was a ship’s walnut and oak billet head from the Hartford. The Woodbury, Conn., and Portland, Maine, dealers also showed a Connecticut Queen Anne maple high chest, a New Hampshire Queen Anne tiger maple highboy by John and Samuel Dunlap and a Connecticut River Valley tea table with a molded tray top and a scrolled apron.

More maritime was evident in the vibrant lobster pottery marking the booth of Circa Antiques of Rockport, Mass. The crustacean was available in Carlton ware, Maruhon ware and Brad Keeler pieces. Circa showed a carved wood falcon and a carved wood griffin that had begun life as newel posts in a house in Manchester, England. Now mounted as lamps, they sold, along with a bronze lamp. A 6-foot wood block for Frederick Robbins’s “Indian Tribes of North America” attracted a lot of attention and some nibbles.

For their tenth year at the Peabody Essex show, Roy and Sheila Mennell, who as the Bradford Trust are based in Harwich Port, Mass., brought along a fine mix of traditional and contemporary Cape Cod paintings. The preview was most productive for them: they sold four paintings, including Arthur Burdett Frost’s sly “The Escape” depicting a fox with a maw full of pheasant feathers as the birds flew away. A sublimely comfortable pair of Dakota Jackson chairs was also sold. The Mennells also showed eight works by Henry Kallem, spanning a 30-year period, that were markedly different from each other and included views of Monhegan Island, Provincetown, Bermuda, Manana and New York City.

Hollis Brodrick and Sharon Platt who run the harborside gallery the Antiquarium in Portsmouth, N.H., had a good assortment of the exceptional early objects for which they are known as a reliable source. A rare document, a 1797 Essex County, Mass., payroll sheet listed the compensation for the April term of all the justices of the peace in the county. A selection of colonial clay pipes made between 1620 and 1770 included two with bowls in the image of Walter Raleigh. One was accompanied by an engraving of a 1614 portrait of Raleigh, who introduced tobacco to Europe. An Eighteenth Century blanket chest had an incised decoration, a group of Eighteenth Century clay wig curlers was available, along with a pair of tow linen man’s pants.

Hard by the front entrance was Hanes & Ruskin Antiques of Old Lyme, Conn., which had an English woolie of a steam locomotive in a maple frame, a maple tavern table with a scrubbed two-board top and a pair of birdcage Windsor chairs with dramatically arched crests and bamboo turnings that Joy Hanes said were probably made in Salem. The dealer also showed a folky mid-Nineteenth Century portrait of a mother and daughter, each wearing a white dress, which may have been South American in origin. In an email several days after the show, Hanes wrote, “It is the best show we do in terms of committee and management. Where else do you get homemade stew and soup and all kinds of other goodies for lunch?”

Hanes is not alone in her sentiments. Dealers invariably heap kudos on the show management. Christine Crossman Vining has managed the show since the beginning. She says she could not do it without her “other half,” Betsy Weisman Viani, who is the museum’s manager of development and events. The two have worked in tandem for several years, with Vining managing the dealers and Viani handling everything on the museum side.

Vining, now based in Wellington, Fla., is an exhibitor in addition to her managerial duties. She had a fine New England Queen Anne maple tap table and a diminutive carved cupboard made from timbers from the wreck of the English ship HMS Minden aboard which the “Star Spangled Banner” was written.

A raccoon coat hanging on a wall excited much interest. Vining calls it her “bodacious raccoon coat,” a Jazz Age men’s coat complete with a flask pocket. Some 30 years ago she did a show in Cleveland and arrived at her hotel wearing it. A young, handsome bellman collected her bags and accompanied her to the front desk where she was upgraded from a standard room to a penthouse suite. She wondered why and he told her, “You look so bodacious in that coat, they think you are somebody.”

Cape Cod dealers Hilary and Paulette Nolan of Falmouth, Mass., brought a Rhode Island Queen Anne tea table, circa 1750, in untouched red paint. They showed two cherry Spanish foot side chairs made in the late Eighteenth Century in the Litchfield County area and a Rhode Island or eastern Connecticut Chippendale green painted desk and a scalloped skirt.

Milton, Mass., gallery the Country Squire offered English furniture and accessories like the circa 1900 Edwardian mahogany breakfront bookcase, a William IV rosewood library table and a good-looking leather Chesterfield settee. There was a handsome English flamed mahogany center table with radiating veneers above a cavetto frieze and a walnut dumbwaiter attributed to the Bath cabinetmakers, accessorized by a Continental painted earthenware tobacco jar in the form of a begging spaniel and several treenware urns.

The Cape Cod gallery East Dennis Antiques provided plenty of country seating in its booth. A set of six Sheraton-style tiger maple slat back chairs with rush seats vied for attention with a set of six American Empire figured maple dining chairs with carved acanthus leaf rails and caned seats. An English hanging bowfront corner cupboard, circa 1730, attracted no small interest because of its reasonable size.

Red was the color in the Birchknoll Antiques booth. The walls were red, a pair of classical chairs were upholstered in red and the carpets picked out the red tones of other objects. A fine Regency mahogany sideboard and server galvanized buyers in the booth of Wolfeboro, N.H., dealers.

Like beacons in the night, the silver for sale from New York dealer Silver Plus ran the gamut of forms: salt spoons, tea caddy spoons, mustard spoons and condiment and cruet ladles. Irish silver included a Dublin bowl, circa 1831, by Edward Power and a squat Dublin teapot, circa 1842, with a finial in the form of an Asian man by James Fray.

The Boston Art Club delivered a study in contrasts with work like John Wilson Carmichael’s “Exploring Greenland,” a nod to the arctic painting show on at the museum, and Robert Swain Gifford’s scene of gathering firewood. Contemporary work by Jason Berger, Walter Sanford and Louis Catusco lent dramatic splashes of color.

Some people are pushovers for antique jewelry and they gathered around the showcases at Maxime Antiques, based now in Oakland, Calif., which had such alluring pieces as an 18K gold scarf that was made in Italy and signed indistinctly. Actress Ellen DeGeneres wore it to the Oscars several years back. A delicate seed pearl necklace, circa 1820–30, was a perfect example of the form.

In addition to the first rate Shaker and Mission that American Decorative Arts, Canaan, N.H., can be relied on to provide, the dealer had for sale a selection of Nineteenth Century silk ribbon pictures by Thomas Stevens. Proprietor Richard Vandall had two double images of Abraham Lincoln, a single Lincoln picture and one of British politician John Bright. An 1882 silk needlework commemorating the entrance of the US fleet under the command of Admiral Sampson was made by the George Washington Company of Nagasaki, Japan.

A China Trade sewing stand in black lacquer with gilt decoration and ivory fittings beckoned visits into the booth of W.M. Schwind. The Yarmouth, Maine, shop also showed six fine Pennsylvania painted, balloon back side chairs, a New Hampshire Chippendale tiger maple chest-on-chest with fan carving and a pair of New York sack back Windsor chairs.

Known for their fine early English oak furniture, Helen and Hamilton Meserve, Running Battle Antiques, Newagen, Maine, supplemented their offerings with some interesting marine paintings. They showed a China Trade ship’s portrait of The Reindeer off Manila, the painting titled “Tartan, a Sort of Barque Belonging to Cataro, in the Gulf of the Adriatic” by Ange-Joseph Antoine Roux and inscribed “Marseille, 1818.” There was also a rare view of the English tea clipper Fiery Cross in Nagasaki Harbor painted by Japanese port painter O-chi-yai and shown in a beautifully carved frame. Another object of interest was a Korean chest, circa 1820, in mountain ash with brass trim.

A couple of American Queen Anne chairs were the story in the booth of New Canaan, Conn., dealer Jane McClafferty. A New England maple side chair, circa 1760, had a fancy carved splat and Spanish feet, and another of the same period had a parrot back, a vasiform splat and particularly beautiful rear legs. There was also a desirable New England, possibly Connecticut, maple tip top table with cut corners.

Hanover, N.H., dealer Steven J. Rowe had a classical bird’s-eye maple workstand, circa 1840, with fanciful carving to the bottom trestle, a turned and carved mirror with brass medallions and a sheet metal weathervane in the form of a hunter. A fireback with a dominant fox head was already sold.

Inviting folk art from Newburyport, Mass., dealer Collette Donovan ranged from a mid-Nineteenth Century watercolor, pen and ink map of Salem and Marblehead harbors with sea monsters, rabbits and horses and riders. A cast iron toaster in a Greek key pattern was among a selection of fireplace utensils, and a mid-Eighteenth Century ladder back chair with a seat of brass woven in a herringbone pattern was among the other unusual pieces.

Folk art was also the draw from Marblehead, Mass., dealer Sandy Jacobs, who showed a coastal New England sewing table with allover decorative painting and a cartouche with a scene on the top. An arresting Twentieth Century folky painting, “Morning in Millerville,” depicts 108 buildings in what appears to be a Pennsylvania town. A chair mat featured a cat with a puffy red bow and an indistinctly signed photograph, circa 1941-42, “Evening Mist, Fifth Avenue” was a Northern aspect.

Such is the quality and organization of the Peabody Essex Antiques Show that exhibitors and visitors alike look forward to next year. Proceeds of the preview party support the educational programs of the museum.

For information, www.pem.org or 978-745-9500.

The Popular Peabody Essex Antiques Show

The Peabody Essex Antiques Show

Peabody Essex



Michael Whitman, Fort Washington, Penn.



Running Battle Antiques, Newagen, Maine



The Bradford Trust, Harwich Port, Mass.



Christine Crossman Vining, Wellington, Fla.



Jane McClafferty, New Canaan, Conn.



Roberto Freitas, Stonington, Conn.



Dean Lahikainen, center, curator of American decorative art at the Peabody Essex Museum, with his wife, Betsy, chat with Americana dealer Don Heller during preview.






Hilary and Paulette Nolan, Falmouth, Mass.



The Antiquarium, Portsmouth, N.H.



David Brooker Fine Art, Woodbury, Conn.



Sandy Jacobs, Swampscott, Mass.



Colette Donovan, Merrimacport, Mass.



Boston Art Club, Boston



BFine Prints, Beverly, Mass.



American Decorative Arts, Canaan, N.H.



Circa Antiques and Fine Decorations, Rockport, Mass.



Silver Plus, New York City



Birchknoll Antiques, Wolfeboro, N.H.



Charles Edwin Puckett, Akron, Ohio



East Dennis Antiques, Cape Cod, Mass.



The Country Squire, Milton, Mass.



Heller Washam, Portland, Maine



William Schwind, Yarmouth, Maine



Steven Rowe, Hanover, Mass.



Maxine Antiques, Oakland, Calif.



Dealers Joy Hanes and Paulette Nolan chat during setup.



Roberto Freitas shows clients a painting.



Joe Barri, the Country Squire, right, shows clients a Black Forest dog’s head carving.



Ed Puckett discusses one of his early maps with a client.



Judy Lodi, the new owner of Russack Books, Danville, N.H., shows one of the many reference books offered to client during a preview.



Hilary Nolan, left, shows an early table to shoppers.



Lee Hanes goes over the fine points of a chest with clients. The chest sold soon after the show opened to the public.


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