WILMINGTON, DEL. — “We were swamped with compliments about the show, with people telling us that it was the most beautiful it has ever been, that there were so many wonderful things to buy, and on preview night, compliments to the chef,” Diana Bittel said after a few days of rest following the close of the 50th annual Delaware Antiques Show on November 10. The show opened with a gala preview on Thursday night, and then continued for three days at Chase Center on the Riverfront.
The show, a benefit for the educational programming at Winterthur, was busy with not only 61 exhibitors, but also with a full agenda of events, starting on Friday with a keynote lecture by Lady Henrietta Spencer-Churchill, the honorary show chair and internationally recognized interior designer, talking about her family treasure home, Blenheim Palace.
On Saturday, Donald L. Fennimore, curator emeritus, Winterthur Museum, and Frank L. Hohmann III, author and collector, spoke on “Stretch: America’s First Family of Clockmakers,” and in the evening the Wendell D. Garrett Award was presented to Gerald Ward, senior curator emeritus of American Decorative Art at MFA Boston. On Sunday, Barbara Paul Robinson, attorney, director emeritus and former vice president of the Garden Conservancy, spoke on “Rosemary Verey: The Life and Lessons of a Legendary Gardener.”
“This was the 50th year of the Delaware Antiques Show and the dealers went all-out to make it look great,” Diana said. As a manager, “This show is less stressful since we have a wonderful facility with easy pack in and out, there is plenty of parking and there are no unions.” And everyone agrees that Winterthur is a fine sponsor and so easy to work with. Every day it serves up a nice luncheon so that dealers do not have to leave the building, and, in turn, the dealers serve up attractive booths laden with fine antiques.
Sumpter Priddy III of Alexandria, Va., offered a set of six side chairs in walnut with the original slip seats, circa 1780, attributed to Maryland, and a pair of card tables, possibly Hains, Philadelphia, circa 1790–1800, in mahogany.
A life-size copper elk’s head, retaining some of the original paint, dated from the late Nineteenth Century and from an Elks Lodge in Rochester, N.Y., was hanging at the front of the booth of Greg Kramer & Co., Robesonia, Penn., along with a paint decorated stand with single drawer, tapered legs and top with graphic, curled sponge design. It was of pine and poplar.
Color set off the booth of Olde Hope Antiques, New Hope, Penn., including a single, drop leaf table from Maine, circa 1820–1840, in pine and maple with a blue painted surface. The top was a single pine board measuring 28 inches wide. A unique corner cupboard with single recessed panel door and high molded backboards was from Ohio and dated from the second half of the Nineteenth Century. The green painted surface dated from the early Twentieth Century. Across the front of the booth was a bench table with a two-board pinned top measuring 8 feet 6 inches long, shoe foot base, red surface, circa 1820–1840, with a New York State origin.
An American neoclassical center table with quartered crotch mahogany veneered top, Philadelphia, circa 1810–1820, and an American circular dish top tea table in walnut, 33 by 28 inches in diameter, circa 1780, Delaware Valley, were featured at the front of the booth of The Federalist Antiques, Inc, Kenilworth, Ill.
A pair of carved stone gate lions, looking in opposite directions with one paw raised and resting on a shield, Bavaria, early Nineteenth Century, measuring 36 inches high and shown on stone plinths, was in the booth of Barbara Israel of Katonah, N.Y. She also had a large circular lead cistern with zodiacal signs on the side, attributed to Hope Foundry of Jamestown, N.Y., circa 1936. It measured 29 inches high, 58 inches in diameter, and “since it was so difficult to fill with water, we did some research and came up with a revolving light that gives the impression of water moving in the cistern,” Barbara said.
HL Chalfant Fine Art & Antiques, West Chester, Penn., showed a William and Mary low chest, two drawers over three long drawers, resting on turned ball feet, circa 1740 and attributed to John Head, Philadelphia. Other furniture included a Hepplewhite dish top, birdcage candlestand with urn pedestal and cabriole legs. It dated circa 1790, Philadelphia origin, the top measuring 19 inches in diameter. A walnut Queen Anne armchair with cupid’s bow crest and carved shell in the center was from Philadelphia, circa 1770.
Stella Rubin of Darnestown, Md., had a very colorful booth, filled with quilts and jewelry, the back wall of the booth covered with a bull’s-eye quilt from Lenhartsville, Penn., circa 1870.
Nathan Liverant and Son, Colchester, Conn., offered a Chippendale wing chair with straight molded legs, Connecticut origin, circa 1760–1785, and a small Chippendale chest of drawers in cherry, Massachusetts or Connecticut, circa 1755–1780, with the original brasses. A watercolor and ink drawing of five sailing ships, signed and dated Mar 22 1881, was by Jacob Henderson.
Sheffield, Mass., dealer Samuel Herrup had a four slat back armchair in maple and ash, dating from the early Eighteenth Century, from either New York or New Jersey, and a painted two-drawer blanket chest in pine, New York State, circa 1820–1840. Red paint outlined the drawers with sponge decorated panels. A large running horse weathervane, 48½ inches long, retained traces of the original gilt and had a cast iron head.
Victor “Sign Man” Weinblatt, South Hadley, Mass., was asked his favorite sign and, between bites of food at the preview, he pointed and said, “I think that one.” It was, of course, the one with the most words and read as follows: “To Day is short, Yesterday is gone, To Morrow may never come, If you’ve got any thing to do — Get Busy.” With that we left his booth and continued photographing the show.
Local dealer Schoonover Studios, Ltd, offered a number of works by Frank E. Schoonover, including “Men Pulling Sled,” an oil on canvas measuring 24 by 43 inches, 1926, which appeared on the cover of Collier’s Magazine, May 15, 1926, and “Sir Francis Drake Landing at Nova Albion,” 1941, oil on canvas, 30 by 42 inches, for the DuPont calendar.
Setting up toward the entrance to the show was Philip H. Bradley Co. Antiques, Downingtown, Penn., with a selection of furniture that included a Philadelphia high chest in walnut with trifid feet, circa 1745, 76 inches tall with the original brasses. An early Peter Stretch walnut eight-day tall clock, 96 inches tall, circa 1715, was of Philadelphia origin. A paneled cupboard of hard pine, circa 1790, had been restored to the original blue and white painted surface and was found on the back porch of a farm house in Accomac, Va.
A brightly polished model walking beam steam engine by Harlin & Hollingsworth of Wilmington, circa 1845–1855, was attracting attention in the booth of Kelly Kinzle of New Oxford, Penn. Three large pieces of stoneware were lined up on a bucket bench, the largest one a storage jar for Day & Ross, in cobalt blue, along with a large #10. The piece dated circa 1860 and was originally used by a West Virginia merchant.
Diana Bittel of Bryn Mawr, Penn., wears two hats at this show, first as the manager and secondly as one of the exhibitors. Her booth, positioned at the end of the first exhibition area and looking into the second large exhibition space, is where she can sell and also keep an eye on the show. “It seems to be a good spot, as dealers can always find me when they have a question or two,” Diana said.
This year she offered a Pennsylvania walnut inlaid high chest, circa 1790–1800, and a small proportioned Queen Anne Bermuda cedar blanket chest, among several pieces of furniture. A portrait of the American ship “Caravan passing Flushing, 1857,” was by Carolas Ludovicus Weyts (1828–1876), an oil on canvas dated 1857. A large New England full-bodied cow weathervane retained its gilt surface, as did a fish weathervane that sold on preview night. “I had a China Trade trunk that sold during the preview and while one person was considering buying it, two others were waiting in case he changed his mind,” Diana said.
Peter H. Eaton and Joan R. Brownstein, Newbury, Mass., shared a large booth with a large selection of furniture and walls filled with paintings. “There is a lot of interest in that chest, but so far no buyer,” Peter said of his exceptional William and Mary chest on frame from Eastern Connecticut on Friday, the first day of the show. “It is the first chest of this kind I have seen with Spanish feet,” he added. With scrolled skirt, the case measured 36½ inches wide, 45 inches tall, with red painted surface. A country Queen Anne drop leaf table with scrubbed top, original red on the base, was of tiger maple and chestnut and came from either Connecticut or Rhode Island.
A pair of portraits attributed to Zedekiah Belknap (1781–1858), circa 1835 and measuring 26 by 20 inches sight, 30 by 24 inches framed, were from Massachusetts, New Hampshire or Vermont. The card read “Sotters are beautiful” — she is and it could be said that he is handsome.
Among the numerous Pennsylvania samplers hung in the booth of M. Finkel & Daughter, Philadelphia, was one from the School of Mary Ralston, Easton, Penn., circa 1830, depicting a large school-house building in the center, surrounded by many flowers. A mantel painted to simulate marble dated from the mid-Nineteenth Century and came from Maine.
Carved wood pieces, large and small, stood on pedestals and filled cases in the booth of Steven S. Powers, Brooklyn, N.Y. The largest folk art carving was of a man with his hands in his pockets, 24½ inches tall, circa 1890, from a single piece of wood. It was found in Kentucky. Another carved wood male figure, nude, was 18 inches tall, mid-Nineteenth Century, with a note reading “like a folk art doll.”
Jeffrey Tillou Antiques, Litchfield, Conn., filled its booth with many varied and interesting pieces. Among the furniture was a Queen Anne desk on frame, Connecticut, circa 1750, of sycamore with a varnish finish and dating from the late Nineteenth Century. It measured 387/8 inches high, 28½ inches wide and 19 inches deep. A carousel horse head, American, was 35 inches long with a weathered surface, and a New England rooster weathervane, with cast zinc feet, was 27 inches high and 29¾ inches wide. It retained traces of the original gilt.
Joe Kindig Antiques, formerly in York, Penn., and now located in Lancaster, offered early furniture, accessories and smalls, as well as a selection of long rifles, a longtime specialty of the firm. A circa 1740 Delaware Valley dressing table in walnut and poplar measured 30½ inches high, 35½ inches wide and 20½ inches deep, and a pair of candle sconces looking glasses, with carved gilt shells and the original brass arms, dated 1720. Of English origin, Joe Kindig noted, “I bought them about 35 years ago and they were one of my favorite things. I was a little sorry to see them sell,” he said.
Jenifer Kindig added, “The show went well for us and we sold across the board.” She mentioned an unpainted blanket chest that found a new home, as did a pair of New England Queen Anne chairs with leather seats, a Philadelphia Federal side chair and several smalls.
Schwarz Gallery of Philadelphia, offered “Woodland Scene with Ducks,” an oil on canvas by A. Defaux, 26 by 39½ inches, that was shown in the center of the booth. On side walls hung a landscape, 1881, an oil on canvas by Robert Bruce Crane (1857–1934), signed and dated lower left and measuring 30 by 22 inches. Francois Joseph Huygens (Belgian, 1820–1908), painted a still life with apples, flowers and grapes, an oil on canvas measuring 30 by 24 inches. It was signed lower left.
Christopher T. Rebollo, North Wales, Penn., showed a wonderful Philadelphia carved side chair, rococo style, that was attributed to Joseph Armitt and dated from the second quarter of the Eighteenth Century. It was sold preview night to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Against the back wall of the booth was a classical sideboard from Baltimore, circa 1815–1825, mahogany, poplar and white pine, possibly by John Needles, 55½ inches wide, and a cylinder desk and bookcase with scrolled pediment, Baltimore, Md., with the same attribution as the sideboard. It measures 95¼ inches high and the provenance listed the Burris family, Kent County, Md.
Jewett-Berdan, Newcastle, Maine, offered a Pennsylvania quilt with embroidered center that read “Diana Witty’s work finished March the 16 aged 12 years 1829.” It hung on the back wall of the booth near a folk art portrait of J.W. Worthen with his black dog, circa 1840. Among many interesting items in the booth was a mirror in a wood shield-shaped frame with the original red, white and blue painted surface, late Nineteenth Century, with the label of Alhion, Ohio Pullman Co. on the back. “That’s a nice child’s Windsor side chair and it certainly came from Maine,” Windsor expert Charlie Santore said as he visited the booth. The chair, with freehand decoration across the back splat, dated circa 1825.
Stephen-Douglas, Rockingham, Vt., returned to the show after a year’s absence and showed a fine pair of portraits on paper of Captain and Mrs Phineas Stone, Framingham, Mass., circa 1796, the figures shown against a yellow background. A rare Eighteenth Century armchair with Queen Anne crest, original surface, had been adapted to a commode chair during the later part of the century. Chrome yellow over red was the surface on an Eighteenth Century New England stepback cupboard.
Taking the spotlight at the front of the booth of Steven Still, Manheim, Penn., was a large paint decorated slide lid box in the shape of a large book. Measuring 24 inches tall and the work of George Robert Lawton Jr, 1839–1883, Wisconsin, it featured an eagle on a vase of flowers on the lid. Centered at the back of the booth was a rare George Eby shelf clock, Manheim, Penn., circa 1830. It retained the original painted dial with a basket of flowers and the maker’s name, and the eight-day brass movement.
A pair of terracotta lions with peaceful faces were of English origin, circa 1850, and stood near the front of the booth of James Kilvington, Greenville, Del. One of Delaware’s earliest clock makers, Duncan Beard, was represented with a tall case clock in walnut, circa 1780.
James L. Price of Carlisle, Penn., uncovered a large piece of furniture as the preview opened on late Thursday afternoon to reveal a rare walnut schrank, circa 1769, with wood inlays to form figural and geometric designs. “It is from Lancaster County, possibly the Lititz area, and has been in my collection for over 30 years,” Jamie said. He added, “I was pleased to bring it out for the 50th anniversary of the show.” It caused much interest at the show, but did not sell. Jamie indicated that “there was one couple very interested in it and I still may hear back from them.”
Some of the pieces that did sell included a paint decorated chest of drawers attributed to Jacob Carter, Belchertown, Mass., circa 1820, and a three-piece fireback by the Hopewell Furnace, Everson, Penn., circa 1790s, that went to a museum. A mahogany lowboy with ball and claw feet, Pennsylvania or New Jersey, also sold, as did rugs, paintings and a number of smalls.
James and Nancy Glazer Antiques, Bailey Island, Maine, showed four Windsor chairs on pedestals at the front of the booth that formed an interesting mix of spindles and legs from a distance. Up close, each chair took on its own merits, including a sack back attributed to Joseph Henzey, Philadelphia, circa 1765–1780. Of interest was an Aesthetic Movement stand, American, circa 1900–1910, carved and painted wood fashioned in layered sunflowers. Jim showed his enthusiasm for the show by stating, “This is the best Americana show in the country.” He got no arguments.
It was impossible to miss the large swan carving that stood out at the corner of the booth of Newsom & Berdan Antiques of Thomasville, Penn. This figure, from the Chincoteague, Va., Waterfowl Museum, dates from the mid-Twentieth Century and has a hollow body. A Pennsylvania farm table, walnut with a two-board pinned top measuring 6 feet long, dated from the Nineteenth Century. “We sold our wonderful animal quilt to a lady who saw it written up in Antiques and The Arts Weekly,” Mike Newsom said, “and we are going to miss it.” The quilt, with 36 squares, showed all sorts of animals, including cats, dogs, monkeys, leopards, bulls, deer, rabbits, lions, goats and horses. The quilt, when shown at the New Hampshire Antiques Show, won high praise from quilt expert Jan Whitlock.
Against green covered walls, Stephen and Carol Huber, Old Saybrook, Conn., offered a collection of needlework that included silk on linen piece by Mary G. Kimball, Haverville, Mass., 1808, measuring 123/8 by 16½ inches. It depicted an urn in the center of the piece, overflowing with flowers. Jane Hammell of Burlington County, N.J., did a sampler at age 9, in 1829, silk on linen measuring 17½ by 16¾ inches. It depicted a house, surrounded by flowers and with several figures in the foreground. “We had another sampler by Jane’s sister, Elizabeth, which we sold at the Collector’s Fair, Art and Antiques in New Hampshire,” Stephen said.
An Eighteenth Century sawbuck table, 8 feet long and 31 inches wide with a one-board top, was at the front of the booth of Elliott and Grace Snyder of South Egremont, Mass. It was of New England origin and of pine and ask. A portrait of a pet dog in a marine landscape, an oil on canvas by S. Roberts, measured 30 by 25 inches sight and was from Maine. A New England dressing table, circa 1830, was in yellow paint with decoration on the back splash and drawer fronts, and had a figuration of two short drawers over one long drawer. “The show got off to a good start for us at the preview when we sold some brass and iron pieces, including a great pair of Eighteenth Century English candlesticks, a nice chair and a few other things at the preview,” Elliott said.
New to the show this year, Garthoeffner Gallery, Lititz, Penn., also got off to a good start. “We had a good preview and sold one item as late as 9:45 pm,” Rich Garthoeffner said. The preview was listed from 5 to 9 pm, but “We didn’t blink the light, so people stayed a little longer,” Diana Bittel said. “One person looked at our Indian weathervane early in the preview and then came back about as the show was closing and bought it,” Rich added. The sheet iron vane came from a carriage house on the estate of Jacob Nolde, Reading., Penn., and dates from the last quarter of the Nineteenth Century. It was advertised as a masterpiece of American folk art and retains the original directionals and surface.
Among other pieces sold were a cast iron toy train, an Eighteenth Century chair, some jewelry, two building still banks and other smalls.
The opening night raffle, a $5,000 show voucher, was won by a couple who made a beeline for the booth of Oriental Rugs Ltd of Old Lyme, Conn., and walked out with a 9-by-12-foot antique Mahal. “The couple had looked at the rug earlier in the show and they came back to buy it for their daughter,” Karen DiSaia said. She also mentioned that “we had a very good show, the best one in years, selling eight rugs, which included three room-size ones and a couple of runners.”
The dealers offer thousands of good reasons to attend this show next year, but patrons might also keep in mind that the State of Delaware has no sales tax, making buying all that more pleasant. Give it a try.