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Fearless Followers Forever

Fran Kramer | May 25th, 2013

Edward and Lillian Miller of Pioneer Folk Antiques, Ellsworth, Maine, have a good eye—well, actually four—and they spot the whimsical and the colorful, such as this metal tractor part, $450, that looks almost like spokes of a game of chance, and the 1940’s metal “Candy-Soda” sign, $675.

This wonderful old 1840’s hand-planed wooden country sofa in its original red stain was sold by Victor Weinblatt of South Hadley, Massachusetts, at the start of the show.

Rocking horse in good shape, $1250, from Melissa Bourque of Garrison, New York.

Massive Empire sideboard, all original, a lot of wood for $3200 from Robert Conrad of Yeagertown, Pennsylvania.

The green and bittersweet orange metal lawn mower works. From the 1920’s and offered by Bob and Janet Sherwood, this “Panther” sold after we took the picture and wrote down the ticket price—$725.

The biggest, and we do mean biggest, item sold was this gigantic cupboard from Seaver & McClellan, bought by a decorator for herself. It had 121 drawers, measured 9' x 7', and was $3200. It was from a hardware store in Beverly, Massachusetts.

Copper boat weathervane, $975 from Nutting House Antiques, New Paltz, New York.

Rhinebeck Antiques Show, Rhinebeck, New York

I cannot stop using “F” words when describing the Rhinebeck Antiques Fair in Rhinebeck, New York: folky, funky, fanciful, fascinating, friendly, funny, and family-oriented.

The twice-a-year show held on Memorial Day and Columbus Day weekends since 1976, and currently managed by Bruce Garrett and his family, draws dealers from 14 or so states with about half from New York state, and they all know what to expect: great show management, sales of odd, peculiar, decorator, and trendy items (although Garrett said this year the furniture sales were strong, and he knows because of the shipping he offers), and a younger crowd, many with kids tagging along, and retail buyers from cosmopolitan areas, be it San Francisco or New York City.

What they did not expect was a very cool, wet opening day for the May 25 and 26 show. It was good for attendance, which Garrett said was up 20% for both days total, but bad for the outside sellers of all that carnival-type food. Throughout the decades we have visited Rhinebeck, we have never worn a coat, but we knew the Northeast was expecting a wet, windy weekend—(three feet of snow fell in the highest Adirondack Mountains and on the peaks of neighboring Vermont) and so we dressed for the weatherman’s forecast, which happened to be right on.

Never mind the “climate change,” what about the selling? We saw an old painted lawn mower sell and lots of cast-iron garden furniture, a painted country wooden “couch,” an enormous multi-drawer cupboard, a nice blue stepback cupboard (Garrett was right—we did see furniture sell), and more.

Prices were realistic and that helped. The booths of the 125-plus dealers were stuffed to the brim. A few years ago an additional building was put into use for the show, so the tally then was as many as 200 exhibitors. It seemed that the total numbers of items for sale was probably the same now, even with fewer dealers. They came from 14 states, with the largest group, not surprisingly, from New York—59 total.

What did the dealers say about the show?

“It’s trendy.”

“Newer items are ‘in’ and acceptable especially for younger people.”

“People deliberate more; no run up the hill at opening.”

“Very ‘New York-ish.’”

“Very diverse.”

Two of the exhibitors new to the show talked about their experiences. John and Kristin Marfoglia Antiques, Buffalo, New York, have been doing shows for 23 years, sometimes as many as 20 a year, in addition to having a shop. They said Rhinebeck was successful for them in selling high-end decorative arts. “The crowd was very knowledgeable and very specific about what they wanted.” The Marfoglias set up a very eclectic booth and said it was well received by collectors and other exhibitors, although they admitted to feeling like a needle in a haystack at setup with so much merchandise on the floor.

The Milnes of Kingston, New York, are longtime dealers with a new face in the booth, their daughter Rebekah. “First show my Mom and I opened together,” she said, “and it was great. I always wanted to get into the antiques business with my parents, kind of keeping alive the American tradition, carrying on, so to speak. I love all aspects: the buying, the selling, the designing of displays. My Mom says I am not jaded yet because I have not been in the business long enough to be.” (Judging from her animated voice and her smiles, we think she will never be jaded.) At Home Antiques has a shop open by appointment.

Longtime exhibitors and first-timers seemed to share the optimism; selling was not gangbusters but paid the bills, with a little left over; contacts were made, and there is always that next show.

At press time we asked Garrett about the speculation (some in print) of the show’s not coming back to the fairgrounds next year because of changes in terms and costs. “It was a misquote; we are not leaving the Dutchess County Fairgrounds.”

The next Rhinebeck Show is October 12 and 13. For more information, check the Web site ( or call (845) 876-1989.

P.S. Next time you come to the show, drive into the center of this quaint town for lunch at America’s oldest continuously operating inn, the Beekman Arms, because its chicken pot pie is better than Mom’s.

There is a new face among the Milnes’ antiques business. Daughter Rebekah went to college, graduated, as her parents wished, and then came into the business. She is a perfect fit—outgoing, great to talk to, and very enthusiastic. Wonder who she takes after? Mother Judy (left) and daughter Rebekah strike a pose for M.A.D. At Home Antiques is what the Milnes now call their business, and both women seem right at home with it. For more about the business, see Frank Donegan’s article “Rebekah Milne and Seamus McCance, At Home Antiques and Gallery, Kingston, New York” in the June 2013 issue of M.A.D.

Originally published in the September 2013 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2013 Maine Antique Digest

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