MILFORD, N.H. — Ever since he was in college, on every Sunday from late October through late March, Jack Donigian has managed his brief antiques show, now for five years at Hampshire Hills Sports and Fitness Club. His business plan is simple — gather about 80-85 dealers to exhibit starting at 8:30 am, charge a low admission fee ($5 for the first hour then free after that) and keep it short, closing the show at 11 am.
January 5 saw the facility, comprising several indoor, heated tennis courts, fill with antiques on tables, on the floor and leaning against walls — very few frills — and several hundred shoppers waiting anxiously for the starting horn.
Greg Hamilton, a Vergennes, Vt., dealer, was among the first to benefit from the opening surge with his exhibit area quickly filling with buyers. His sales included Eighteenth Century sterling silver and Sheffield plate, art, folk art and early furniture. One piece drawing great attention was a winged head from a totem pole, priced reasonably, he said.
Another Vermonter, John Bourne from Pittsfield, was also enjoying the shoppers that morning. He brought a collection of Nineteenth Century folk art, which included a stuffed cat that appeared to be munching on some fresh fish, all very charming. His sales also included an early birdhouse on stand. He considers this a good stop, exhibiting most weekends, weather permitting. In the recent past, he has sold a valuable carved rooster, probably a trade sign, which was about 3 feet wide, and a whirligig of two men making horseshoes.
Another happy exhibitor was Bob DeLuca from Amesbury, Mass. He brought a number of significant antiques for the morning’s sale, which he sold, including an early ship’s binnacle; a girandole mirror, probably early Twentieth Century; and a Connecticut pillar and scroll clock. In addition, he sold a number of small antiques and art in the two and a half hours of the show.
Mountain Rug Company, Parsonsfield, Maine, was showing mostly smaller Oriental rugs, but Mark Longval, the dealer, was quick to point out there were more available. He also was trading in antique and estate jewelry.
Early woodenware was a significant part of Raymond, N.H., dealer Bruce Miller’s collection. One table was virtually filled with early firkins and pantry boxes, likely Shaker and all in original paint. Another table was filled with early kitchen implements, including nut presses, scoops, scales and wooden measures.
The show is known as a source for great little antiques and art selling at comparatively low prices. Jim Biondi, Kennebunkport, Maine, had two oil on canvas portraits without frames, which sold for less than $300. Jay Simmons, Fairhaven, Mass., sold early tools in great condition for comparatively low prices, he said. There was a set of four rod back Windsor side chairs, one of which needed some repair and the other three in great early condition for sale by Buddy Conklin of Newport, R.I., for less than $100 each.
Bud Tully, Dunstable, Mass., offered furniture, including an early dressing table, along with his collection of early porcelain. Early whale oil lamps and miniature baskets were offered by Elizabeth Kingsley of Hopkinton, N.H. Snowshoes were the order of the day and available from Bob Moore a Newton, N.H., exhibitor. Kurt Mansbach, Marshfield, Mass., sold a collection of 19 early brass candlesticks for only $200 in the first 30 minutes of the show.
“Milford Antiques Show is known as a source to find the great early antiques that dealers put out there, and we have loyal customers who come to buy,” said Donigian.
The show takes place every Sunday through the end of March except when extremely bad weather is expected. The rare cancellations are posted on the website and emailed to all on their list.
Hampshire Hills Sports and Fitness Club is at 30 Emerson Road. There will also be shows on the Sundays preceding Brimfield and New Hampshire Antiques Week later this year. For more information, www.milfordantiqueshow.com or 781-329-1192.