Antique Jewelry & Gemology
Photos by David Vickery
It was sometimes difficult to get a word in edgewise without interrupting jewelry sales at the Maine Antiques Dealers Association show at Damariscotta River Association’s Round Top Farm in Damariscotta, Maine, on August 28. It was a glorious day, and the word from Roger Pheulpin, a longtime exhibitor, was that the gate was up over last year. Three dealers at the show sold mostly jewelry: John and JoAnn Hathcock of Heritage Antiques, Donna Grant of Grantiques, and Helen Nasberg of Mother Goose Antiques.
This assortment of Victorian gold and garnet brooches from 1850-75 ranged in price from $125 to $300 at Grantiques. The two stone cameos surrounded by pearls from the 19th century cost $800 and $1200. Brown photo.
Tennessee and Maine dealer John Hathcock was manning the Heritage Antiques booth at the show. His wife and business partner, JoAnn, was with the grandkids that day. John had just unraveled a long gold chain while I was talking to him. He stands in front of a display of Art Deco filigree rings. Hathcock said these rings are among their best sellers. This group ranged from $300 to $1200 “according to the size of the diamond. The filigree mountings are pretty much the same, as far as size and design, but each one being handmade, they’re no two exactly alike.” Brown photos.
Helen Nasberg is wearing a Victorian gold thimble necklace and bracelet that was specially designed for her and is not for sale.
Nasberg had a nice collection of reasonably priced Victorian combs, ranging from $35 to $45.
Three dealers had large displays of jewelry alongside other specialties: Nancy Prince of Portland, Maine; Roger Pheulpin of Gloucester, Massachusetts; and Joan Mollan of Marblehead, Massachusetts.
Donna Grant is based in Massachusetts and Maine. She and her husband and assistant, Gordon, were swamped with business, and we communicated more by e-mail after the show than we could in person. She wrote, “I’m sorry I didn’t have more time to spend with you at the show. However, it was the best show I have ever had at Damariscotta or even in Maine.”
John and JoAnn Hathcock’s business, Heritage Antiques, is based in Tennessee and Maine. John was solo at this show while JoAnn was spending time with her granddaughters.
We spoke about the popularity of the Art Deco rings in the Heritage Antiques display, and Hathcock said, “Young girls are starting to realize that if you buy a new ring from a jewelry store, within a year, it goes down in value. If you buy an antique ring, it goes up in value. And that’s the truth. I’m not saying that just because I sell them. They go up every year in value.”
When I asked how I could reach him if I had any questions to ask after the show, Hathcock told me he doesn’t have e-mail or a computer. He gave his away to a disadvantaged youth who really needed one, through a mentoring program that JoAnn established 25 years ago. He was tired of coming home from a weekend show and getting 400 junk e-mails. If I needed to contact him, I could call him on the phone. When I did, he let me know that he had a good show, “about the same volume as last year and the year before.”
Helen Nasberg is a veteran antique jewelry dealer, exhibiting as Mother Goose Antiques. Sparky Lindsey, the shop manager of Avalon Antiques Market in Wiscasset, Maine, where Nasberg has a permanent display, assisted Nasberg the morning of the show. She told me that this was Nasberg’s first time selling at the MADA show, and people were excited when they heard she’d be exhibiting. Lindsey said, “She has a great following.” I told her that Paul Fuller, the show manager, had given me the heads up when he’d booked Nasberg for the show.
Her best seller is Victorian earrings “when I can find them. I sold some this morning already.” Nasberg explained, “I really try to stay with Victorian jewelry. That’s what people look for, from me. And it’s getting harder and harder to find. So I’m out there all the time trying to find Victorian jewelry.”
When I asked what she likes about selling at antiques shows, she replied, “It’s not getting up at four in the morning! I enjoy the display aspect of it. I like to please my customers.” In a phone conversation days later, Nasberg told me that she “had a very good show.”
Joan Mollan of Moon Gold Antiques has a good philosophy. She sells what she is attracted to. “Everything has been hand picked, so I don’t have anything that I don’t like.” Mollan offers fine smalls, textiles, and lighting in addition to antique and vintage jewelry.
The morning of the show I asked her what’s hot in the market and how the show was going. She replied, “In general, the Asian stuff is selling, amber is selling, silver is selling. But there hasn’t been too much selling here.” She added, “I’m surprised, because last year I did sell quite a number of pieces—but every year is different.”
Mollan directed me to Roger Pheulpin because “he said he sold a few bits.” I’d been looking for him, since Paul Fuller had also suggested that I check in with him.
Pheulpin greeted me, saying, “The show’s going fine. Another exciting day in the world of antiques and collectibles!”
As I mentioned, it was a beautiful day, which hasn’t always been the case for this one-day show. Pheulpin concurred. “We’ve been here in the worst rainstorms. Last year we got through most of the show, and at the very end, it just poured. People down there [pointing to a tent across the way at lower ground] were up to their knees!”
When we spoke on the phone after the show, Pheulpin told me, “I was comfortable with what I did, considering the economy. People in my tent, D, seemed to do pretty well.” Carrying a “mix” of offerings helps, and Pheulpin adds silver, decorative items, glass, and china to his.
Nancy Prince’s display was inside the Darrows barn at Damariscotta River Association’s Round Top Farm. Native American jewelry is one of her specialties. This is a good show for her, and she returns every year. She was on the board of the Hudson Museum (an ethnographic museum) at the University of Maine at Orono for nine years. Prince, a painter, started selling antiques when she and her sculptor husband “suddenly had four kids in college at one time. We were running an art school, and I started moonlighting, figuring I could do this. For better or worse, I did it.”
Nancy Prince of Portland, Maine, had a bright and graphic display of vintage and antique jewelry at the head of her booth. Brown photo.
The smaller Navajo belt was Prince’s favorite piece in her jewelry display. The circa 1930 belt was $1650. The assortment of Native American rings ranged from $75 to $200, and the various necklaces were $200 to $450.
Roger Pheulpin, center, and Christine Coyne, right, are joined by local Damariscotta, Maine, jewelry dealer, Frieda Hanlon, left, who was shopping in their booth.
These bracelets were in Roger Pheulpin’s jewelry display. From top, a 19th-century silver-mounted shell cameo and three 20th-century estate jewelry bracelets of 14k gold and jade, possibly aquamarine, and amethyst.
Originally published in the October 2013 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2013 Maine Antique Digest