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Strong Dealer Buying at Vermont Antiques Dealers' Association Annual Show

David Hewett | July 27th, 2013

Mill Brook Antiques, Reading, Vermont, reported very good preshow sales. In fact, most dealers said there was a lot of action at setup, some of which we witnessed. This labeled Grenfell mat is 21" x 33½" and was priced at $1950.

Holden Antiques, Sherman, Connecticut, showed a painted game board, 36" square, reading “Rainshine Golf,” a dart game with “golf” on one side and “baseball” on the reverse. It was copyrighted in 1931 by E.W. Love of Joplin, Missouri. The baseball side was obviously the favorite, as it was much more riddled by darts. The asking price was $795.

Jean Tudhope of Back Door Antiques, East Middlebury, Vermont, bought 287 of these painted wooden Vermont highway signs. (The ones in the middle reflected the camera flash.) They were rescued when the state replaced them with metal ones. The 17" x 50" ones were $175 each, but the ski area signs were priced at $250 each. At least two of the latter sold during the first half-hour of the show, and the sign reading Woodstock also sold.

The maple workbenches that Jim Mulder of Liberty Hill Antiques, Reading, Vermont, refinishes have been a staple of his business for many years, but they have such character and usefulness (think gardening benches to food preparation islands) that it’s no wonder he keeps selling them. This one is 84" long. The price was $1750; it sold.

Gardiner’s Antiques, Falls Church, Virginia, showed this brightly painted Studebaker Junior wagon, made by the Studebaker Brothers Mfg. Co. of South, Bend, Indiana, circa 1900, for $4950.

This huge braided rug, approximately 9' x 10', was draped over the back wall of the American Classics booth. The Canaan, New Hampshire, dealer asked $500 for the rug,  $2250 for the game wheel, and $495 for the blue table.

Bob and Mary Fraser of Fraser’s Antiques, Chester, Vermont, showed a stencil-decorated arrow- and comb-back Windsor rocking chair made in the Woodstock-Taftsville area of Vermont by chair maker John White. There were several pieces of Vermont furniture at the show, more than we’ve seen at one show in years. The rocker was tagged $975.

Jeff and Holly Noordsy of Cornwall, Vermont, offered this exceptional horse and rider copper weathervane, 33½" long, for $18,500.

Woodstock, Vermont

If there was any prevalent theme or pattern at the Vermont Antiques Dealers’ Association (VADA) show held in Woodstock, Vermont, July 27 and 28, it had to be the amount of material that was exchanged between dealers. Exhibitors reported good selling prior to the public opening at 10 a.m. on July 27, and the number of dealers who arrived to shop the two-day affair was impressive.

Most of the pieces that sold before the show opened remained on the floor, available to the retail crowd, who took advantage of the opportunity and did a good amount of buying too. But, and it’s a big but, there were a certain number of dealers that had very bad shows, and, unfortunately, that happens at almost all shows.

The visiting dealers who were among the first wave into the Union Arena Community Center proved to be no pikers at snapping up good buys. Patricia Stauble of Maine, and Thomas Longacre of New Hampshire, were spotted among those in line at the opening. Stauble flew from booth to booth and left at least one exhibitor very pleased with her visit. When we ran into her in Justin Cobb’s booth, she had picked up a baleen box and was choosing among some carved ivory smalls.

Why were some dealers so hungry for fresh stock? One reason was that Antiques Week in New Hampshire was about a week away, and many of the exhibitors showing here (and some of the visiting dealers) were exhibiting at one or more of the events in New Hampshire.

Preshow buying by fellow exhibitors has been a given since the beginning days of this trade, and as long as merchandise remains available to the retail buyers, there aren’t a lot of complaints. Indeed, in the past, some exhibitors at other shows have admitted that the reason they pay the exhibitor price is that it gives them the opportunity to shop the floor before others get in.

“I don’t think we had any of that type here this year,” VADA president Greg Hamilton said. An exhibitor can’t ignore the fact that something in the booth next door is exactly what his or her customers have been looking for, though.

The folks at Halliday House Antiques, Napa, California, told us that the VADA show had become a regular summer event for them because of the opportunity to sell their West Coast offerings and pick up new stock to take back to their California customers.

When the exhibitor list includes local dealers who seldom show elsewhere, the opportunities become even more inviting for dealers seeking fresh stock.

“We’ve already sold a lot of stuff,” conceded Nancy Stahura of Mill Brook Antiques, Reading, Vermont, on Friday afternoon during setup. Nancy and John Stahura kept a shop on Vermont Route 103 for decades (admission: I sold to and bought from Nancy Stahura some 30-35 years ago), but they are far less active nowadays.

The Stahuras had a large oversize painted papier-mâché fish, probably a trade sign, that ended up in VADA president Greg Hamilton’s booth, where it was still available for under $1000 when the doors opened. Other Stahura pieces went to other exhibitors on the floor.

“I’ve had a very good show,” said Michael Seward of Pittsford, Vermont. He wasn’t kidding. A sold sign quickly appeared on his pine and cherry cabinet, probably a Vermont-made piece, which originally had an $875 price tag. He also sold a New England five-drawer Federal chest with original red paint.

When we first saw him on Friday, setup day, he was making purchases from the booth of American Empire Antiques, Essex, New York.

Stephen-Douglas Antiques, Rockingham, Vermont, exhibitors at the hyper-popular New Hampshire Antiques Dealers Association show that was less than two weeks away, was busy writing up receipts on Saturday morning.

Mario Pollo of Holliston, Massachusetts (formerly of Bearsville, New York), did well in Woodstock—we looked at his stock on Friday and then saw much of it had blossomed with sold stickers by noon on Saturday. “I don’t know why Woodstock works so well for me,” Pollo said a day after the show closed, “I didn’t do so well when the show was in Manchester, but it sure does well here.”

Jean Tudhope of Back Door Antiques, East Middlebury, Vermont, lined her booth walls with painted wooden highway directional signs that came from Vermont. She assumed they had been replaced with metal ones back in the early 1960’s by the state. A state of Vermont highway worker took 287 of the wooden signs home, and there they remained, all stored in one room in his house through at least two subsequent owners, until Tudhope learned about their existence and bought all 287 in one purchase. The ski area distance signs were priced at $250, and at least two sold quickly to retail buyers during the first half-hour of the show.

A day after the show closed, we spoke with Greg Hamilton. “Overall attendance was about the same as it has been in the past, but it was busy both days, and for many of us, the selling was fantastic. The list of dealers having great shows goes on and on. Justin Cobb [Captain’s Quarters of Amherst, Massachusetts] said he had a fabulous show and even wrote me a note in appreciation.”

We spoke with Justin Cobb later. “Oh yes, I had a very good show,” he said, “What I wrote to Greg was that people who come to antiques shows in Vermont really like antiques. They ask a lot of questions about what they see and get involved in the process. When that happens, it’s very rewarding to the exhibitor….They know antiques, they understand antiques, and they appreciate antiques.”

Cobb is admittedly no Johnny-come-lately in his field. “I think that maybe five to six people who made purchases said, ‘Do you remember me? I’ve bought from you before.’ Sometimes I did remember the face, but sometimes you just have to wing it.

“Customers come back because they liked the piece they bought, or they liked the price they paid. Either way, they are welcome.”

Cobb listed some of his sales. “There was the baleen ditty box Pat Stauble bought that came from the Barbara Johnson collection, and I also sold an eagle weathervane that was in the corner of the booth, an Eskimo-made cribbage board, plus a cribbage board made on an oosik. There was a good whaler’s knife, and other pieces.” (Adult readers may get a rise out of Googling oosik.)

Greg Hamilton reeled off the names of other satisfied sellers. “George Johnson of Montpelier had a great show. I think he may have had to restock his booth a couple of times. Frandino Antique and [Vintage] Oriental Rugs [Walpole, New Hampshire] sold well. Joan Korda [Brookside Antiques of Bridport, Vermont] also had a very good show, and I’ve got more names if you want them.”

Hamilton noted that probably there were a few who didn’t have the same successes as those he mentioned, but that overall many exhibitors left pleased with the results. That may have been the understatement of the summer.

For more information, see the Vermont Antiques Dealers’ Association Web page (

This wonderful painted sheet-iron sign from a poultry farm in Sedalia, Missouri, about 36" from dewclaw to cock’s comb, was offered by Missouri Plain Folk, Sikeston, Missouri, for $1450.

New England Home Antiques, Wethersfield, Connecticut, offered this 76" x 92" red and white double-woven coverlet, dated 1859, with a plethora of fascinating details, including flowers, fruit, stags, birds, buildings, and eagles with banners, all for $975.

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

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