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Low-Pressure, High-Value Show

Fran Kramer | August 6th, 2013

And they’re off, moving at a good pace around the bend and up the hill to the first buildings of the show.

This child’s settle with lift seat, 33" high x 42" long, from Mary de Buhr of Downers Grove, Illinois, was $3700. Always stop by her booth to get a ginger cookie.

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” with this miniature display of a decorated tree, $250, and a red and green fence, $225, from Anderson-Breish, Fort Washington, Pennsylvania.

This red chest, $350, and the wooden horse, $795, were from John Bourne of Pittsford, Vermont.

Americana Celebration, Deerfield, New Hampshire

You know what makes antiques show exhibitors happy in addition to sales? A relaxed atmosphere where showgoers can mingle and ask questions of experienced dealers, and a show manager who understands this. At the Americana Celebration, as manager Nan Gurley calls her show, on August 6 at the Deerfield Fairgrounds inside some buildings and outside under exhibitor tents, the mood was festive, positive, and very inviting to buy antiques. It was an easy 20-minute drive from Manchester, New Hampshire, too.

The show had good food, from homemade pies to homemade lemonade; easily accessible, large, and clean restrooms (no one ever talks about this, but they are indeed comfort stations); lots of parking; and for the second consecutive year, heavenly weather. Now, Gurley does not manage the weather, but this longtime antiques dealer/show manager from Maine talks the talk and walks the walk!

Exhibitors from 15 states bring fairly priced items that are heavy on folk and country and thousands of smalls. Most of them have been doing the Deerfield show for years. Set up the day before the show, take down the evening of the show, and that is it.

There are no show programs, no booth walls, no fancy lighting—the merchandise sells itself, with some assistance from the congenial dealers. Early buyers move quickly up a small hill at 8 a.m., paying $20 to do so. Sleep-in-a-bit visitors come at 10 a.m. and pay $6. But there is plenty for everyone because the booths are packed with merchandise, and the tabletop glass-covered display cases are stuffed.

We saw furniture selling, as well as textiles, wooden smalls, and accessories. The crowd stayed and stayed, as no other New Hampshire Antiques Week show is on Tuesday. So with lots of picnic benches, good food, great weather, good conversation, and some very good finds, everyone was happy.

And what did the dealers say? “There is good value, good quality, and no sales taxes,” said dealer Robert Baranowsky of Connecticut.

“Eclectic and fun, and the only show I do,” said Barbara Bourgeois of Hampton, New Hampshire.

And from manager Nan Gurley? “Very good sales, very good crowd, everyone loves it.”

And one reason why is the personal touch. About two weeks after the show, something extraordinary happened. For the first time in my 35 years of collecting antiques I received a handwritten thank-you note for a purchase. Anne Bedics of the Cat Lady Antiques, Bangor, Pennsylvania, mailed me (yes, mailed, as in the U.S. Postal Service) a personal thank-you on real note paper (remember those days?). She even used a classy note card, a reproduction sketch of an Edouard Manet painting, Cat and Flowers (1870). Her paper receipt at the show for the one item I bought was equally classy, as it included her name, phone number, address, e-mail, Web site, and a color sketch that included cats. We often get “thanks for the purchase” comments, but it takes extra time and effort to put the thanks on paper in such personalized way.

Thank you, Anne, for showing us that one-on-one personal contact is alive and well in the antiques community, and that some of those “old-fashioned” practices can coexist in this technologically frenzied time, and, in fact, mean a lot.

For more information on Nan Gurley’s shows, call her at (207) 625-3577.

From a post office in Vermont, this “Victorian” cabinet was $3200 from William Gittes of Barrington, New Hampshire.

This early 1900’s miniature stable with horse and wagon was $195 from Barbara Rotondo of Methuen, Massachusetts.

These six Shaker chairs, late 1920’s-’30’s, from Mt. Lebanon, New York, are referred to as Barlow/Perkins chairs for Sister Lillian Barlow and Brother William Perkins. Barlow and Perkins were the Shakers involved in the manufacture of this “new” kind of chair from 1924 after a fire destroyed the on-site buildings previously used for chair production. The design of the Mt. Lebanon chairs changed, with broader, thicker parts, and they were very practical, sturdy chairs for daily use, perhaps around dining room tables. This set retains its decals on the rear posts, and they were $2400 for all from Howard Graff of Colt Barn Antiques, Townshend, Vermont.

No, that is not a stack of firewood; it is a Black Forest carved chest, circa 1915, weighing over 125 pounds, and offered for sale for $5500 by a first-time dealer at Deerfield, John Provo of North Salem, New York.

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

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