WHIPPANY, N.J. — Weather was sunny, not sultry on July 26–27, when Birchwood Manor’s opulent doors once again swung open to stage New Jersey’s long-running antiques event. Celebrating 35 years, the summer edition of Birchwood Manor, managed by JMK Shows, cemented its reputation as a leading source for antiques, fine art and collectibles for the tri-state area.
The setting is elegant. Surrounded by a parklike 20 acres of landscaped gardens, with fountains, gazebo and statuary, the stately Georgian manor is equally opulent inside — large, luxurious ballrooms lit by massive ceiling-mounted chandeliers overhead — a fitting setting for the rich displays of antiques, fine art and jewelry, silver and ceramics showcases.
“We had a good show. We had dealers who did exceptionally well,” said show manager Allison Kohler. “A lot of furniture moved. Jewelers all did well. Limoges did extremely well.”
There are many loyal longtime dealers at this show, and Kohler counted seven new participants among the 72-dealer roster. “We were full for what we used,” explained Kohler, adding that the manor’s auxiliary ballroom was not put into service for this event “It was an easy show. Our dealers were very happy. We have an excellent staff working on behalf of our vendors.”
And while Saturday’s gate was down about 100 people from last year, Sunday was up by about the same amount.
With merchandise spanning several eras and continents, JMK’s dealers offered furniture, silver, porcelain, pottery, jewelry, linens, glass, objets d’art, fine art and more.
Biuk Fardin of Fardin’s Antique Rugs, Fairfield., Conn., filled a corner booth in the main ballroom with a wide range of Oriental rugs. A highlight, however, would not cover an entire floor but would be an accent to one’s décor. Made for the American market by a Chinese maker in the 1930s, a pictorial wool rug on cotton foundation, 2 by 4 feet, had a nautical theme.
Furniture at this show was once a major draw, less so nowadays. Still, dealers like Flo ‘n Time, White Orchid and Donald Bethune were offering American, Continental and Asian furniture. Yorktown, Va., dealer Flo ‘n Time filled its stand with a variety of pieces, most notably an Asian cypress wood bride’s chest with original brass hardware, camphor wood interior and beautiful carving throughout, circa 1920, as well as a Hunzinger chair, circa 1899, with its trademark Aesthetic Movement stick and ball design and the original upholstery.
Limoges porcelain was in plentiful supply by Kathy Tarr, owner of the Victorian Rose, Wenham, Mass. Local interest was strong in a grouping of pieces by Ester Miler (1861–1931), a New Jersey artist whose primarily peach-hued work is highly sought after. And if Limoges was not on one’s shopping list, there was Shelley, American and Irish Belleek, Royal Bayreuth and more on offer.
PKG Antiques and Fran Bondy shared a booth space just to the left inside the entrance to the main ballroom, with a good selection of elegant epergnes, a category that Bradley Beach, N.J.,-based PKG specializes in, especially examples made in England in the late 1800s. The beautiful hand-blown centerpieces — basically a base from which glass vases meant for flowers or fruit hang on extended branches — included a vaseline glass example from Birmingham, England, circa 1800–1910, as well as a Baccarat lead crystal form on a gold base from the 1920s.
Representing the decorative arts category, among other dealers, Kathy Jansen, owner of K. Rothschild-Jansen, Green Valley, N.J., filled her space with an eclectic and unusual array of what she called “interesting stuff.” One was a Chinese apothecary, circa 1800s, with a plethora of storage drawers for herbs or spices, and even after more than 200 years, the aromas of those were still present. Chinese symbols on each drawer described its contents.
A games compendium from the 1920s came complete with roulette, chips, dice and backgammon board. On an easel was an artist-signed oil painting of sheep grazing in a meadow dated 1896. Jansen does shows such as Birchwood Manor, but she also runs a business called Cool Home Consignments in Harding Township, N.J., about five miles outside Morristown.
Those looking to decorate their persons rather than their living spaces could find much jewelry and accessories from which to choose. There was much to catch the eye at Eden Estate Jewelry, Hauppauge, N.Y., including interesting accessories like a Victorian opera glass holder with chatelaine, circa mid-1800s, in silverplate with foliate design and velvet lining, a Nineteenth Century sterling mesh purse with link chain, a sterling cigar case from the 1930s–40s, a Zuni multistone cuff bracelet and a Victorian coral and amber perfumer.
There were many wonderful pieces of jewelry at Joy Starr Enterprises, Englewood Cliffs, N.J. Kirk Smith jewelry is in high demand these days, according to the dealer, due to the artist’s death in an auto accident a couple of years ago. Smith’s pieces are solid and substantial, exuding a Southwestern Native American aesthetic. Another contemporary jewelry maker represented was Zuni artist April Haloo, whose intricate work involving tiny beads of turquoise set into sterling silver included a cuff bracelet, a regular bracelet and ring.
Exquisite workmanship was also on display at Jamie Shenkman’s booth where the Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., dealer presented Trifari jewelry brooches crafted into the forms of a treble clef and axe.
Complementing the fine art, antiques and decorative arts item that are Birchwood Manor staples, John Tyler of Colophon Books, Layton, N.J., featured books and scientific instruments. Standouts included a collection of books by British poets, printed in London, 1853–69, 12 volumes with original cloth binding, and from a Belgian Book of Hours from the Fifteenth Century, a manuscript leaf double mat-ted to show the verso. A 1493 copy of the Nuremburg Chronicle featuring hand colored illustrations was another highlight.
JMK’s next show is the White Plains Antiques Show at the Westchester Civic Center, with 50 dealers, September 13–14. The Birchwood Manor show returns January 3–4. For additional information, www.jmkshows.com or 973-927-2794.