‘Prettiest Show Around’: Antiques At Elm Bank

WELLESLEY, MASS. — It is still the prettiest show around and on a perfect June weekend, it is tiptop.

Antiques At Elm Bank, on the grounds of the headquarters of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, takes advantage of the acres of gardens, some of which were redesigned in the very early Twentieth Century by the Olmsted brothers. It is a serendipitous setting for garden furniture and accessories, and most of the 125 antiques dealers made the most of the setting. This year’s show ran June 8–9 and opened Saturday morning with the remnants of a driving rain storm, but the weather cleared in time to allow strong sales and attendance.

The Brewster Shop, Brewster, Mass., in the summer and Key West, Fla., in the winter, showed a nice mid-Nineteenth Century Vermont pie safe in blue, an English garden gate in blue paint and a cast iron Art Deco plant stand, along with a stone Buddha. Turn of the Nineteenth Century Key West tin roof tiles made into decorative fish were suspended around the booth. Several pug likenesses were available: a Victorian stoneware example and a French terracotta example, circa 1850, with piercing glass eyes.

Village Braider of Plymouth, Mass., brought dandy garden furniture and accessories that included a good-looking table and four chairs in the Mayan pattern, probably by Woodard based on the feet, said owner Bruce Emond. A worktable made in India was desirable, as were fountains and benches and a cement garden seat in the form of a toadstool with snails, frogs and flowers at the base.

Richard LaVigne of Knollwood Antiques of Southbridge, Mass., was seen during the show wrapping a late Nineteenth Century English slipper chair with a down seat and back for a purchaser. A midcentury modernish paisley slipper chair with a rollback also sold, as did a sofa, a pair of Chinese Export lamps and some mocha ware bowls. An Eighteenth Century French Régence walnut armchair carved with botanical elements, shells and scrolls was upholstered in a 1930s blue and white fabric, and a pair of glass topped tables on a redwood driftwood base with a gesso covering went nicely with a glazed stoneware snail-form ottoman with a pillow top.

Marvin Getman is a meticulous show promoter and each time out he adds enhancements to his shows. An attention-getting example at Elm Bank was a small strobe light on a post in one of the buildings, drawing the eye down a hallway to four more booths that some might otherwise miss. Ingenious.

This year’s show also featured an appraisal clinic on both days by Martin Willis, director of decorative arts, Boston, for James D. Julia Auctions. He did a land office business at $5 per item that benefited the Massachusetts Horticultural Society library. The appraisals had a dual benefit: they also drew new patrons to the show.

Lincolnville, Maine, dealer Martin J. Ferrick and Yorktown Heights, N.Y., dealer John D. Gould shared a booth. Gould’s array of gilt frames and Ferrick’s elegant furniture were a perfect marriage.

McDonough Fine Art came up from Atlanta with a selection of natural history and botanical prints. A selection of gilt bumblebees mounted on bits of picture frame molding was appealing and well received.

New to Elm Bank, Old Lyme, Conn., dealers Hanes & Ruskin had a good show, offering a dandy tea table, Windsor chairs, brass candlesticks, Nineteenth Century paintings, jewelry and ceramics.

David Allan Ramsay of Cape Porpoise, Maine, overflowed a corner garden booth with garden furniture in wicker and rattan, a pair of sleek midcentury metal mesh chaises in bright blue paint, a deer-form weathervane, airplane models, a nice stainless kitchen prep table and an odd touch, vintage shoes with bags. The eclectic wares paid off in strong sales.

Gary Bardsley Antiques of Sudbury, Mass., drew visitors into its booth by opening the back tents to reveal the aromatic herb garden. The resulting sales were good. A pumpkin pine harvest table was grouped with a set of six painted chairs, a gentleman’s chest of drawers with a sideboard, and a French farm table with a blue painted stepback cupboard. An Empire secretary from about 1840 that retained the original label looked over a table inlaid with a detailed hunt scene and a 1920s rosewood and mahogany bridge table. A French nut measure with iron strapping and hand forged nails was for sale.

A 6-foot ship’s wheel marked the booth of Boston dealer Peter D. Murphy, who said only that it came from a large, multimasted vessel. Murphy also showed an early Nineteenth Century English oak cabinet with original wallpaper on the interior, a group of late Nineteenth Century watercolors made into a nest of tables and a large marble top washstand by George Knapp, a Riley Whiting clock and a handsome Gouda pottery lamp.

Online dealer Plain & Elegant Antiques specializes in garden furniture and displayed chairs and tables, garden animals such as frogs, mushrooms and deer and faux bamboo furniture.

Elm Bank veterans Steele & Steele Antiques of Middletown, R.I, make the most of its booth location on the edge of Jim Crockett Memorial Garden by opening the back of the tent. The dealers showed an upholstered wicker love seat and chair and other fine garden furniture. They spiced up the mix with two large decoratively cast iron heating and ventilating floor grates, possibly from an industrial or municipal building. The Steeles also brought some examples of the country furniture in which they specialize.

Two Sides of the River Antiques from New London, N.H., brought a set of six Pennsylvania painted side chairs, a paint decorated youth chair, a Mount Lebanon Shaker rocker, Number 6, and ceramics of interest.

Marblehead dealer S.B. Adams had some rectilinear clam baskets from around 1900, several oyster baskets and a stone goose begging to be taken home. Other baskets included a giant French textile mill basket from about 1880 from the Alsace region. A portrait of a Jack Russell terrier rested on an ornate theater or opera house easel, and a copper boiler was for sale, along with a plein air still life with peaches in a lemon gilt frame.

Sandy Gnidziejko of Little River Antiques of Biddeford, Maine, enumerated her sales: a Sheraton stand, the watercolor “Haystacks in the Marsh” in a gold wash frame and a selection of Heisey and Steuben glass and Herend ceramics.

Massachusetts dealers Essex Antiquarians served as the FILO booth — the first a visitor would see on arrival, and the last on departure down the exit path. A double booth was filled with such delights as a Black Forest hall chair, a campaign desk and a walnut Davenport desk, an English painted tabernacle dressing box and a Regency fire screen. The Cape Ann dealers offered “Shipping in Boston Harbor” by Frederick Tordoff and a watercolor of a locomotive. The latter referred to a Delaware, Lackawanna & Western wooden model railroad comprising eight cars drawn by a 30-inch locomotive. The train was commissioned by Alice Elizabeth Greene, grandniece of John I. Blair, founder of the actual railroad company.

Tarpon Springs, Fla., jewelry dealer Lucyanne Robinson enjoyed consistent traffic through her booth. Robinson noted after the show that the event brought out a loyal and significant group of collectors, which equates to strong sales.

For additional information, www.neantiqueshows.com or 781-862-4039.

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