Wayside Inn Antiques Show Springs Forward

SUDBURY, MASS. — The Wayside Inn Antiques Show makes good use of its best assets. Now in its fourth year, the annual Mother’s Day weekend event is staged under a big tent on the bucolic grounds of Longfellow’s Wayside Inn, a not-for-profit historic landmark 20 miles west of Boston. 

Managed by Bryn Mawr, Penn., antiques dealer Diana H. Bittel for the benefit of Longfellow’s Wayside Inn and mounted with the assistance of facilities manager Ralph DiSaia, the fair is a breath fresh air after too many months indoors. 

“We had a good gate and were blessed by beautiful weather,” Bittel said. A downpour late Thursday afternoon during setup put the tent to a rigorous test, prompting the manager to confess, “For a moment I imagined having to tell our insurance carrier that they had sustained a total loss.” The tent proved impervious to the elements and all came off without a hitch.

The well-attended preview on Friday, May 10, drew area residents and charity supporters, along with collectors, among them members of the American Folk Art Society, in Boston for their spring outing.

Made famous by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1862 Tales of a Wayside Inn, a harbinger of the Colonial Revival, and preserved by Henry Ford with help from Israel Sack, Wayside Inn has welcomed travelers along the old Boston Post Road since 1716. Several exhibitors played to the historic setting, providing furniture and accessories appropriate to Eighteenth Century New England houses.

 “Russell Kettell shows two examples of this rare form in his 1929 book, The Pine Furniture of Early New England,” said Merrimacport, Mass., dealer Colette Donovan, who asked $8,500 for a circa 1720 six-board, lift-top, one-drawer chest with a tilted top that was meant to be used as a desk.

Deposit, N.Y., dealer Richard Axtell offered Windsor furniture, a cupboard with dry sink, tole, redware and a cobalt decorated stoneware jug ornamented with a flower, $4,500, from New York City or the Hudson Valley.

Exhibitors made a point of bringing well-priced merchandise. A beautifully embroidered wool blanket, $375, covered a bed at Stephen-Douglas Antiques, where a painted dome-top box was $2,800 and a shadowbox was $1,100.

With Massachusetts’s famed seaside resorts in mind, some exhibitors emphasized marine art. Diana Bittel offered a deep selection of sailors’ wool works and valentines. An especially fine example of shellwork and cut-paper ornament was a shadowbox that descended in a Philadelphia family. The back of the box bore the paper label: “Old shellwork made in 1749 by our ancestor Mary Rhoads. She married Thomas Franklin. They were the parents of Israel Pleasant.”

Highlights at Port ‘N Starboard Gallery included a “A Ship Passing a Schooner” by the Boston-born painter Marshall Johnson (1850–1921), oil on canvas, $18,000, and “A Busy Harbor” by Gianni Cilfone (1908–1992), $15,000. Born in Italy, Cilfone trained in Chicago but was known for his Gloucester Harbor views, among other subjects.  A carved and painted Bellamy eagle with a 57-inch wingspan and a 45-inch mermaid carving rounded out the display.

Longtime nautical specialists Paul and Linda DeCoste of West Newbury, Mass., built their display around a Liverpool School oil on canvas painting of three vessels, one of them the American ship Perfect.

“A painting by the same hand is in the Peabody Essex Museum collection,” said Paul DeCoste, citing the work previously thought to be by Samuel Walters or Robert Salmon.

There were tributes and nosegays in honor of mother. Boston fine arts specialists Walker-Cunningham, who shared its booth with the Boston print dealer Haley & Steele, showcased the oil on canvas “The Young Mother,” a Boston School influenced picture by Frank Hector Tompkins (1847–1922), a member of the Boston Art Club.

From Wellfleet, Mass., Blue Heron Gallery offered a circa 1850 double portrait of a boy and girl with flowers and a hoop, $52,000, possibly by the New York-Pennsylvania painter John Carlin. The Cape Cod dealer, which sold four paintings at the show, also brought a portrait of the English barque Macedon, signed F. and J. Tudgay, active between 1850 and 1877.

“I did shows in Chicago and the Bronx in the past month, so I’m low on inventory,” protested Bruce Emond of The Village Braider, Plymouth, Mass., whose stand appeared to be well-stocked with garden ornament, outdoor furniture and a pair of folky barn doors with applied decoration. Tucked away was a slim, 1905 diary by Charles H. Evart, who illustrated the account with marine scenes and botanicals, still brilliant after more than a century.

Urns and finials were abundant at Jewett-Berdan, Newcastle, Maine, dealers who brought the outside in with a flamboyant 1920s iron and marble garden table, $1,850, and large stone and wood carvings of animals, including a stone sculpture of a lamp by George Papashvily (1898–1978) of Philadelphia.

The small show draws top talent. Known for New Hampshire furniture, Concord, N.H., dealer Gary Yeaton featured the circa 1780 Wason Family Queen Anne high chest from Chester, $29,500, and the Bowles Family secretary desk attributed to Langley Boardman of Portsmouth.

Nathan Liverant and Son of Colchester, Conn., brought an exceptionally detailed oil on canvas landscape view of Grafton, N.Y. Unsigned, it dated to around 1850.

Elliott and Grace Snyder of South Egremont, Mass., dressed a Rhode Island Queen Anne porringer-top maple tea table of circa 1740–65 with a pair of English Chippendale six-shell paktong candlesticks.

A circa 1770–90 Connecticut River Valley country Chippendale chest of drawers with a serpentine top, fluted columns and a gutsy ogee base was a standout at Peter Eaton Antiques, Newbury, Mass. His partner Joan Brownstein topped the display with a pair of portraits of a husband and a wife attributed to Zedekiah Belknap (1781–1858).

For Kelly Kinzle, the long trip from Pennsylvania resulted in sales, some to other dealers. His diverse stand featured a pair of untouched portraits by Ammi Phillips, a Baltimore octagonal table with a wax-resist portrait of William Henry Harrison on horseback and early Twentieth Century paintings by Jane Peterson and Maude Drein Bryant.

After pack-out, it was on to the Brimfield markets for a week of hardcore buying and selling for some exhibitors. Others were looking forward to a brief hiatus before the summer show season begins in earnest in July.

For additional information, Longfellow’s Wayside Inn, www.waysideantiquesshow.org or 978-440-9360.

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