NEW YORK CITY — People have come to expect certain things from certain antiques shows, and Stella Show Mgmt’s Antiques at the Armory is no exception. The venue, the armory on Lexington Avenue at 26th Street, is always warm and comfortable by the time the show begins, there is always a good mix of dealers so the inventories are varied, and the line of visitors on opening day extends from the entrance of the show down the hallways and down the stairs, ending in the vicinity of the restrooms.
All of the above fell together on Friday, January 25, when the show opened at 10 am for a three-day run and the last show to open during the popular Americana Week in New York. There seemed to be a bit more folk art on the floor this time, and it proved popular with the large crowd that came every day.
Jeanne Stella said the “show went well overall, and the gate was up from last year.” She attributed this, in part, to the fact that there were only four shows versus five the year before, and that made it easier to hit them all. She also noted that there was more folk art and Americana at the show than usual, mostly because “we picked good dealers in this field from those who generally exhibit just on the pier, which was canceled this year.”
Jeanne worked the box office most of the show, and from her perch there was able to observe the large amount of packages and pieces of furniture that left the show. “Some customers even sent their own truckers to pick up all of their purchases,” she said. The majority of the dealer surveys that have been returned so far rate sales as 4 or 5, on a scale of 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent).
About 25 vintage posters are on view at one time, with images on the tables changing all of the time, in the booth of Nancy Steinbock Vintage Posters, Chestnut Hill, Mass. At one point subjects varied from Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey’s Combined Shows to the 1904 World’s Fair of St Louis and on to the Pennsylvania Railroad tempting travelers with fast trips to New York City. And mixed into several large stacks of posters were those advertising wines and other drinks, special foods, travel and resorts.
Dawn Hill Antiques of New Preston, Conn., again had a good number of pieces in white, including a cast iron two-seater bench, circa 1880, in the twig pattern, and against the back wall was a white upholstered Gustavian-period settee with slatted back and lots of pillows for comfort. It measured 91 inches long, circa 1800, from Sweden.
A large round Coke sign, lettering on a red ground and in excellent condition, was bright against the back wall in the booth of Susan and Rod Bartha Antiques, Riverwood, Ill. Parked on a table at the rear of the booth was a large fire truck, a handmade piece of folk art with every detail in the right place, including ladders, hoses, helmets, a hatchet and other pieces of firefighting equipment. Painted red with gold lettering, it was true in every mechanical detail.
A new-to-the-market weathervane in the form of “Mauds,” horse and sulky with rider, was shown by Chuck White of Warwick, N.Y. It measured 42 inches long, circa 1880, and was in excellent condition. A second vane, in the form of a codfish, was 30 inches long, circa 1875, and attributed to J.W. Fiske, New York City.
An upholstered Victorian rosewood rococo parlor set, red fabric, was at the corner of the booth of Joan Bogart, Oceanside, N.Y., and other pieces of furniture and countless smalls filled the rest of the large end booth. A selection of original painted doorstops included a cat, peacock, cottage, monkey, elephant, a pair of ducks and a basket of flowers.
“This has been a great show for us,” said Judy Milne of New York City, who with husband James set up at the front of the show in a large booth and also against the wall by the entrance. But it was not just the location, for the inventory varied from a fine Index horse weathervane to a porcelain sign advertising “New York Beverages” to a pair of dolls in the original clothes to some interesting cast iron wheels and gears and onward to a variety of game boards. Sales included, on the first day, a pair of cast iron garden dogs, a seagull that is moving to Newport, a pair of figural duck andirons, a goose weathervane, a game table, a desk, a pair of penguins and a wine cupboard in the form of a large wooden wine bottle. (PS: That is a partial list).
A Bird in Hand, Florham Park, N.J., had the usual well-picked selection of stoneware, wood carvings, rugs and paintings, including a parrot with plumage on a stoneware crock by F.B. Norton & Sons, Worcester, Mass., and a carved and painted figure of a young Abraham Lincoln, 18½ inches high, that was found in Illinois. Three vases, in bright red with black and white, were eye-catching, the work of Carlo Moretti (1934-2008) of Murano, Italy.
Auctioneer Archie Steenburgh joined family members Mary and Joshua Steenburgh of Pike, N.H., to help out at the show, offering a mixed bag of objects including a 1950 diving mask that looked to weigh about 50 pounds, an extra large game board and a large trade sign from a diner that encouraged people to “Try our Submarines.” A selection of circa 1897–1940 microscopes were scattered about the booth, “a collection I bought in Vermont recently, numbering 130 pieces,” Joshua said.
Mad River Antiques of North Granby, Conn., known for its stoneware, had several fine pieces, all decorated, including an eagle, trees, buildings, birds and floral. A painted, wood-carved fish with metal fins advertised “Bait,” and a bumbass, or one-man-band instrument, had a nice carved head at the top. Steve German noted that the show got off to a good start with the sale of a New England candlestand and a couple of paintings, plus some smalls.
There are always a few carvings mixed in with the paintings offered by Port ‘N Starboard, Falmouth, Maine, and this time there was a nice sailboat and a small tugboat named Claudia. Paintings included an oil on canvas of a ship passing a schooner, 24 by 36 inches, signed lower left by Marshall Johnson, (American, 1850–1921). A carving of a mermaid, 45 inches long, holding a mirror and comb, was found in Pennsylvania.
Victor “The Sign Man” Weinblatt of South Hadley, Mass., once again plastered his walls with all kinds of trade signs, and then spent the better part of the day wrapping them back up in bubble wrap for buyers. A small sample includes “Don’t Let The Flag Down,” “New York Yankees,” ”Saints & Sinners,” “No Stags Allowed,” “Farms” and “Baked Beans – 10 Cents.” A pair of figural flower stands, yellow flower heads on green stems, was at the front of the booth.
Bridges Over Time, Newburgh, N.Y., had a 10-foot-long table at the front of the booth, four boards with breadboard ends, surrounded by French dining chairs in a bright decoration pattern with some flowers. “The chairs date from the Nineteenth Century and we have 14 of them, but only are showing eight due to the size of the booth,” Ed Koren said. Several pieces of colorful Modern art filled the walls.
Terra Mare Antiques of Sharon, Conn., offered many rare pieces, including an amphora handled linear relief decorated vase, Paul Dachsel model, 1902–1904, and a Jerome Massler butterfly bowl, metallic luster, small size, dating circa 1900.
An oversized wood trade sign in the form of a pencil, green painted with eraser end, circa 1900, leaned against the back wall of the booth of American Garage, Los Angeles. Also hanging there was an oversized electrified, double-sided watchmaker’s trade sign, circa 1900, with colored glass and the original cast iron hangers.
Village Braider of Plymouth, Mass., had a large booth filled with a mixed selection of furniture and decorative objects. A carved wooden eagle from a lodge in Gloucester, Mass., signed and dated by the artist, Charles Hart, 1917, was shown between a large model of a seated dog, about 4 feet high, and a bench by Jack Kennedy, metal, depicting both a seated male and female figure. An enamel sign in the form of a Spalding baseball was in excellent condition and one of only a few known, and a collection of railroad spikes was made into 18 pieces of sculpture representing all of the sports of the Olympics. The sculptures were being sold as a lot.
The Norwoods’ Spirit of America, Timonium, Md., showed a wood carving of a male figure with great attention paid to his attire, and a pair of figural andirons suggest a pair of abstract horses. Bev Norwood spent some time wrapping up a trio of wallpaper boxes of various sizes, interrupting her listing of early sales that included two fractur, a ship portrait, two wooden busts, an animal carving, two portrait miniatures and an oil on canvas depicting sheep in a pasture.
Cherry Gallery of Damariscotta, Maine, offered a collection of Black Forest bears, various sizes and poses, with some of the bears bearing flags, and a nice pair of figural andirons, painted black and white seated cats.
Colette Donovan of Newburyport, Mass., had a tall desk on stand from Phillips Exeter Academy, circa 1840, in the original Windsor green paint with lock and key. It measured 48 inches high and the provenance was written inside the desk in pencil. A white upholstered country sofa (sold) was against the back wall, flanked by two Nineteenth Century chopping tables of different size and weight.
Mario Pollo of Woodstock, N.Y., was ready to set up a gaming booth in the armory with an original and perfectly balanced roulette table at the front of his booth. While a good number of people gave it a spin and watched the white marble, nobody laid down any cash. Other risks were in the cards, with an 1840 deck by Hunt & Son available.
Jewett-Berdan, Newcastle, Maine, offered a folky carved pine rooster weathervane, circa 1920, in old white paint and measuring 44 inches long and 24 inches high, and a carved and painted child’s sleigh, circa 1870, with wings carved and painted for sides. A hooked rug depicted a recumbent dog, white with spots on a checkered pattern rug and surrounded by a border of circles, circa 1900, and measuring 34 by 43 inches. Among their sales were a small rooster weathervane, a carved swan, three hooked rugs, a rare rag doll, hitching post, butterfly mobile, two other weathervanes and a carving of a serpent. “Folk art seemed to do very well this year,” Butch Berdan said.
Pioneer Folk Antiques, Ellsworth, Maine, brought an electrified boardwalk sideshow sign, a beach scene with jeweled and beveled mirror frame, circa 1940, and a collection of folk paintings with images of pigeons, fish, flowers and horses that was found in an upstate New York barn.
Cunha-St John of Boston and Nantucket, Mass., had a figure of Uncle Sam, a mail box stand measuring 78 inches tall and in the original red, white and blue paint. He was holding a large, handled Nantucket basket. A sold tag hung from a shell-encrusted tabletop with a central painting of a two-masted schooner, octagonal in shape, 29 by 29 inches, circa 1942.
English dealer Stuart Cropper from Seaford filled his booth with smalls, including ten full-length silhouettes, a selection of elaborate picture frames, several articulated figures of different sizes and a case filled with wood carvings, such as frogs, a bootjack, dogs, bears and shoes, complete with feet in them. The large figure he is pictured with in this review was one of several sold.
Jeffrey Henkel, Pennington, N.J., again offered pieces on the heavy side, including a signed terra cotta recumbent bloodhound, circa 1889, by Edward Kemeys, and a pair of glazed earthenware terra cotta caryatids, circa 1870–1880. A large Black Forest umbrella stand carried a sold tag.
A French commode, Louis XVI-style by Rinck, marble top and bronzes, was shown in the booth of Framont, Greenwich, Conn., along with an oil on canvas portrait of Edward Hoare by Gilbert Stuart (1755–1828).
Michael Whittemore traveled up from Punta Gorda, Fla., to offer a large cast iron bas relief of George Washington, circa 1858, and a Wedgwood-style mantel, circa 1920, that was made in New York City and provided display space for a duck decoy, fish decoy seagull and whirligig. A running deer weathervane had a sold tag attached, and “the show was very good for me, all three days,” Michael said.
“People came to buy and we had a real good time,” Robert Snyder of Wiscasset, Maine, said. Along with Judy Wilson, they sold, among other things, four Old Salt figures in original paint and of different sizes, three Grenfell mats, several doorstops and three hooked rugs. And that was just the first part of the first day. Other pieces of cast iron in the booth included a pair of figural andirons in the form of banjo players, a snail bootjack and a double-sided clock trade sign.
Steven Still of Manheim, Penn., had a good-looking deer carousel by Charles Dare, circa 1880–1890, from the New York Carousel Manufacturing Co., and a fine trapunto crib quilt, circa 1850, from New Jersey and measuring 44 inches square. A cigar store Indian, 6 feet 6 inches tall, was attributed to Thomas V. Brooks, and a carved figure of a policeman in American white pine, 6 feet 4 inches, was once a stage prop for a Broadway show.
A nice selection of redware was offered by RGL Antiques, Pittstown, N.J., including slip plates saying “For Sally,” “Money Wanted” and a flag. At the front of the booth was a pair of early Twentieth Century eagles with the original green surface, once on the Vanderbilt estate in Florida, and a sheet metal horse weathervane of large size retained much of the original yellow painted surface and came from a collection of folk art in Hudson, N.Y. A metal band was attached to the surface of the vane for support.
“Maybe he knows something we don’t know,” another dealer said of John Sideli of Wiscasset, Maine, who used one wall of the booth to display 38 paint-by-number paintings depicting country scenes, landscapes, horses and a nude. “I bought these one at a time, some of them on eBay, and a few of those were so bad they went right into the trash,” John said. This display brought many smiles to those who saw them, and very often someone commented, “I have done those.”
Stella did not run a show on the pier this January, but one is planned for March 16–17 on Pier 94, New York City, with more than 500 shops and galleries taking part. For information, www.stellashows.com or 973-808-5015.