RIDGEFIELD, CONN. — Returning for its 51st year, the Ridgefield Antiques Market opened on a glorious, sunny morning, May 4, in and around the historic Lounsbury mansion. Inside, showgoers could browse ephemera dealers’ offerings of posters, photographs, books, prints and paper-related antiques and collectibles. Outside on the mansion lawn, about 50 antiques dealers took advantage of the fine day and set up pleasing, informal displays of furniture, textiles, Oriental rugs, art pottery, vintage clothing and much more — some under tents and canopies, but many setting out their merchandise en plein air. Occurring just a couple of weeks before the Brimfield shows, this one-day offering put everyone in the mood for a good outdoor antiques show.
Adding to the festive mood was the continuation of an enhancement made for last year’s 50th anniversary show — old-fashioned carnival rides like a Ferris wheel and merry-go-round, along with a bevy of vendors offering foods from local bakeries and caterers in a section on the north side of the mansion that charged no admission
It was a bittersweet day, however, for Vivien Cord, president of Cord Shows Ltd, and her partner Ed McClure. They recently announced that this would be their last year managing this show and others. With the exception of the Danbury, Conn., Vintage Clothing Show, their company is being assumed by the father/daughter team of Richard Vazzana and Beth Steele of Ridgefield.
On the lawn, awaiting a new generation of calipers, micrometers, rulers and the like, a Gerstner machinist’s tool box in oak with felt lining and mirror, circa 1915, was a pristine find at Reclaimed Memories, Denville, N.J. Owner Robert Schicke specializes in bringing old furniture to life, and in addition to the tool box brought a rare left-handed school chair/desk in golden oak from the 1920s. A selection of pink and green Depression era glass was also part of the mix.
Steve Balser of nearby Danbury, Conn., also likes early furniture. He collects mostly early Nineteenth Century examples, such as a wonderful pine lift top blanket chest, circa 1850, of six-board construction and with two drawers at the bottom — “Perfect for the guestroom,” he added, with ample room for linen and pillow storage. Balser also brought a collection of needlework, mostly English, including a silk on linen example wrought by Mary Belton in 1827 extolling the virtues of an industrious nature within a floral frieze border. A German example from 1848 was more colorful than its English counterparts, and yet another, wrought by Martha Pimblo in 1808 measured 11½ by 19½ inches.
Serving the desire of many home decorators to use sturdy relics of America’s industrial past, Rick and Candy Pirozzi, Woodbury, Conn., set out reconditioned items like a Gerstner woodworker’s bench, circa 1910, a Hamilton drafting table with cast iron legs and a midcentury Hamilton map chest with commodious drawers.
Nearby, Stonehouse Vintage, Newtown, Conn., was displaying vintage midcentury lawn furniture, including a set of four Homecrest Casino chairs from 1966, and a Salterini dining set in the Mount Vernon pattern, a table with glass top and four chairs, from the later 1940s. In vintage garden sculpture, a cast stone Mother and Lad shared space with a whimsical Curtis Jere work in brass and copper from 1970.
Most folks know Garrison, N.Y., dealer Melissa Bourke for her Americana and folk art, and there was plenty of that on display, including an interesting print by unschooled painter Vestie Davis (1903–1978), who, according to the dealer, passed by a New York gallery on 57th Street one day and saw a rendition of Coney Island, prompting him to create his own sparkling scene of the playland, on display here in number 110 of 300. Another side of Bourke’s interest, however, revealed a small collection of colorful classic children’s wooden preschool educational toys from the 1920s through 1950s, some with the rare Holgate Toys of Philadelphia label.
A rare iron scale featuring the emblem of Paris was among the kitchen and household antiques that are the specialty of Marie and Larry Butchen, Wantagh, N.Y. From around 1930 or earlier, the scale also sported a figure and ship in the center. A waggish figural match holder and striker from Ireland, a hand-cranked pencil sharpener from 1906, a French jewelry anvil and a French salesman’s sample sewing machine, circa 1930-35, had been reclaimed by the couple on one of their many shopping trips abroad, as well as a 200–300-year-old compass made of “steel like velvet,” according to Larry Butchen.
Paula Cohen, who does business as Your Grandma Had It, Brooklyn, N.Y., brought her customary selection of art pottery, glass and ceramics, including a rare McCoy matte aqua umbrella stand from the 1930s. A couple of tole coal scuttles featuring portraits and a coffee bin that was probably an early fixture on the counter of a general store were also notable, but the real conversation piece in her collection was a large buttocks basket from Pennsylvania that had been created by weaving together strands of rag newspaper. “The form itself is iconic,” said Cohen, “but this transcends into the realm of folk art.”
A wide selection of Oriental rugs had been lain out on the lawn by Jorge Vasques of Kazak Oriental Rugs, Peekskill, N.Y. Among the gems were an antique Zigler Persian rug measuring 4 feet 8 inches by 7 feet 4 inches and a Persian Baktiari with the same dimensions. A Russian Kazak example with bold blues and browns, 4 by 6 feet, was a bit younger, probably 60–70 years old.
Nice pieces of America’s past, mostly from Pennsylvania, comprise the stock and trade of William Korzick of New Haven, Conn. These included a sea green folk art blanket box, circa 1820, that had some restoration to the front panel but was in otherwise original condition, a rare ovoid stoneware jug, circa 1830, and a traveling desk with most of its original accessories intact from the late 1800s. Pure joy from the pleasure of smoking was evident in the expression of a young boy captured in a German hand painting on porcelain, circa 1890.
Local history was represented in the booth of Antique Olive, Branchville, Conn. Among the items shown by owner Claudia Haas, who has a small shop inside the Branchville train station, was a trunk bearing the name of Joseph P. Ancona, who in the early years of the Twentieth Century, emigrated from Sicily with dreams of finding opportunity in America. He founded of the popular Ancona’s Market in Branchville, which is still in operation by Ancona family members today.
Art pottery fans could find much from which to choose at Art from the Attic, owned by Yrena Edwards of Arlington, Mass. Edwards’ eclectic eye has an American bias when it comes to midcentury examples, although she said she includes period appropriate forms from German and Scandinavian artists. She also collects unusual Fiestaware and flatware.
The trend for this longstanding show is to tie it in more closely with several town-wide events that occur on an early spring weekend, drawing visitors to this upscale suburban enclave. With Ridgefielders Vazzana and Steele set to take up the reins next year — he is involved as a board director in multiple nonprofits in Ridgefield, as well as corporate boards — that trend is likely to continue and deepen. In the meantime, for information, www.cordshows.com or 914-273-4667.