This wonderful document box in grain-decorated red, brown, and ocher wavy comb pattern, with a red-painted interior, was $395 from Roger and Elizabeth Ayscough of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.
A dramatic nautical oil on canvas by James Hamilton (Irish-American, 1819-1878), After the Gale, was $14,500 with Day's Antiques, Brunswick, Maine. Hamilton painted mostly along the New England coast and south to Maryland and moved to San Francisco where he died.
by Mark Sisco
Once again, for the 31st time in 31 years, the sprawling Maine Antiques Festival bloomed on the Union Fairgrounds in Union, Maine, this year August 10-12. The number of exhibitors is down to about half of the 400 that used to set up in the 1990's, but the smaller ticky-tacky collectibles vendors mostly have been weeded out, and what's left runs the gamut of real antiques. About 175 dealers spread their wares under the summer sun, and except for an off-hours deluge, the Maine weather was quite cooperative this year.
The friendly weather helped to produce some good results. I heard a reliable report of an $8000 table finding a new home. I visited a booth early on the first day where several good pieces of painted country furniture already bore red "sold" tags.
Show manager and owner Paul Davis has added some features to the show. A few years ago, he opened a restoration section, where exhibitors showed
wood-strengthening products, contemporary books, refurbished wood stoves, and other preservation products. This year's innovation was the addition of a "Repurpose!" tent.
Repurposing is defined as taking an old item and converting or redecorating it to serve a new function. The show's advertising flier cites Cape Cod folk artist Peter Hunt as a seminal "repurposer" (my own word), taking old furniture, pantry boxes, and other wares and redecorating them in his own distinctive style.
"It's the latest craze," Davis explained. "All the network TV companies, cable TV stations, they all have repurposing shows, taking vintage items and repurposing them into a different use." It's not an entirely original idea, though. "Essentially people have been doing this for years, and we just gave it a label," he admitted.
The intent of the addition was to try to draw some younger buyers to the show, and the effort appeared to meet with some success. "It's attracting the younger people to the show, and they're seeing other things too that they buy," Davis added.
For more information, call (207) 221-3108 or visit the Web site (www.maineantiquefest.com).
This hand-painted Limoges lamp was offered by Kathy Tarr of Victorian Rose, Wenham, Massachusetts. She had the silk lampshade specially made for it, and the lamp could be taken for $1200 with the shade or $950 without it.
"Taking old stuff and redefining it" was the mantra for Amy Cloud of Vermont. The $235 painted door wasn't too far from its original purpose, as it was a chicken coop door to begin with.
Patricia Stauble of Wiscasset, Maine, always brings great showpieces to her exhibitions. This time it was an all-whalebone yarn swift for $2850.
A Portland 1885 Sunshine cast-iron stove with a raised relief scene of Quoddy Head Light on the arched door, claw-foot legs, fire-breathing serpents around the chrome-plated base, and the original figural finial on top, all restored to perfection by David Erickson of Erickson's Antique Stoves, Inc., Littleton, Massachusetts, was $4200. "I haven't even owned it for two weeks," he said. "I was so excited when I picked it up in Wentworth, New Hampshire, two weeks ago; I worked like an absolute dog to get it done! Everything you see is original."
A classically designed footed punch bowl with six matching cups, bordered in 24k gold and hand painted with a family crest, was $465 with Nancy Smith of Hyland Hedges by the Sea, Belfast, Maine.
This beautiful old Anasazi pot with a painted symbol in the center was $900 from Michael and Jill Albanese of Kendall, New York. The pot is in "archaeological" condition, having been reassembled from fragments, but this is one kind of pottery where collectors don't seem to care much about chips and hairlines.
This little metal dinosaur was wearing the kind of outfit no self-respecting Tyrannosaurus rex would want to be caught extinct in-a garish assortment of multicolored segments in a rainbow of blues, yellows, reds, and greens. It didn't have a price on it but would have made a distinctive lawn ornament. "Hecho en México," one of the booth staffers explained to me in heavily gringo-accented Spanish. Gary Graham of Tennessee displayed a field of such wildly creative contemporary metal sculptures, all fabricated from old parts.
Sandra St. Pierre of Maine Attic Antiques, Whitefield, Maine, offered a classically eye-catching Maine paint-decorated trunk with streaks of yellow and ocher and with hand-forged iron hardware and a wallpapered interior for $395.