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The Faithful Show Up in Droves at Wayside Inn Antiques Show

David Hewett | May 10th, 2013

Diana Bittel of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, picked up this pair of shellwork pictures in England recently. She said she’d owned a pair by the same hand 20 years or so ago. The circa 1840 pictures are 17½" tall x 12" wide. Bittel asked $12,000 for the pair.

Brian Cullity of Sagamore, Massachusetts, was no fan of the country music being piped almost directly into his booth during the pre-opening hours on Saturday morning and was very thankful (as were others in the vicinity) when it ceased after the doors opened. This New York table in blazing tiger-grained maple was $2750.

Melvyn and Bette Wolf of Flint, Michigan, show their choice collection of pewter at several shows each year. The 11" tall handled, lidded pot measure from Guernsey, Channel Islands is 1750-1825 and $1875. Melvyn said the flowers were for Bette, who had to be elsewhere on Saturday, but the Mother’s Day bouquet would be waiting for her when she returned on Sunday. She does all the packing, by her choice, and deserves the flowers, he said.

Sallea Antiques, New Canaan, Connecticut, displayed these two examples of Bohemian crystal boxes on a showcase shelf. They brought a booth full of the antique boxes the firm is famous for. The prices for the type of boxes shown here are around $3000 to $4000.

It wouldn’t be an antiques show without showing an early hooked rug. This example is 30" x 54" and was tagged $6500 by Stephen-Douglas Antiques, Rockingham, Vermont.

Dover House Antiques, Louisville, Kentucky, showed the paint-decorated settee and pair of chairs by fancy chairmaker Henry Dean, who worked in New York in the first quarter of the 19th century. The price was $9500 for the set.

Sears & Tither, Somers, Connecticut, has found an excellent way to display sterling silver tea balls. They were priced from a high of $495 for a Tiffany example to under $200.

This oil on board scene, possibly of Saratoga, New York, circa 1840, was 14" x 22" and $2200 from Garvey Rita Art & Antiques, West Hartford, Connecticut.

Sudbury, Massachusetts

Most show exhibitors will tell you, if you ask, that preview parties are generally seen as a waste of time and money. There are a lot of reasons for that opinion.

A preview party usually means an exhibitor expense of an extra day’s lodging and meals, plus the added effort involved in making sure the booth is presentable for visitors well in advance of those people who come to a show looking to actually buy antiques.

Preview party participants often have no interest in antiques except as pretty objects to converse about while renewing acquaintances with like-minded individuals.

That was not the case with the Wayside Inn Antiques Show managed by Diana Bittel in Sudbury, Massachusetts, May 10-12. This year’s show was held in a field under a tent with a floor that cost the inn and sponsors more than $50,000.

At least 400 preview party tickets were sold for the Friday night party. Those tickets went for $100 to $150, depending on whether they were ordered in advance or paid for at the door. That lessened the overhead expenses considerably.

The preview visitors got hors d’oeuvres, unlimited visits to the champagne stations, and guides and strolling minstrels dressed in Colonial finery. Longfellow’s Wayside Inn, a nonprofit Massachusetts Landmark on the National Register of Historic Places, will benefit from the approximately $50,000 that was raised at the preview.

What made this show different from many others was that actual sales were recorded during the preview. Moreover, some of those attending the Friday night affair considered what they had seen and returned to buy the object of their desire the next day.

That was the scenario for Concord, New Hampshire, exhibitor Gary Yeaton, who took a call from a retail customer who’d been very impressed with his $29,500 maple highboy and its untouched original surface and called Yeaton back to confirm the sale.

Yeaton wasn’t the only one making sales on Saturday. Bruce Emond of Village Braider Antiques, Plymouth, Massachusetts, sold several big and heavy stone garden pieces.

When we ran into Tom Jewett of Jewett-Berdan Antiques, Newcastle, Maine, in the parking lot early on Saturday morning, he said, “We almost never sell anything on preview night, but we sold here last night, and people have said they were coming back to look at us again.”

Despite those sales, some exhibitors did not do well.

Show manager Diana Bittel addressed that problem during the following week. “We had a very good gate, but I just wish the sales had been at that level. The show was well advertised, and we did our best with everything we could control, but I feel that some exhibitors felt we should have had better results.”

She wasn’t the only one noticing the reticence on the part of buyers to part with funds. Mo Wajselfish of Leatherwood Antiques, Sandwich, Massachusetts, said he saw it in his booth. “One general impression I had was that people seemed very cautious about parting with their money, even when they were obviously interested in a piece,” Wajselfish said. “There were more sales on Saturday, but probably more people on the floor on Sunday.”

When we checked back with exhibitors during the week after the show (which was a problem because Brimfield’s first show of the season ran that week), we found that those we could reach reported having a decent show.

Doug Norwood of Norwoods’ Spirit of America, Timonium, Maryland, said they’d had a “pretty good” session at Sudbury, just a notch below last year’s results, which were “excellent.”

Norwood said one sale that stood out was a pair of cast-iron sun-face andirons that went to a retail buyer who planned to use them in her fireplace. What made the sale memorable was that they had sold another pair at the show preceding the Wayside Inn event, and that customer had also intended to use the andirons in a fireplace.

Mo Wajselfish was a first-year exhibitor. “Dealers always want to make new customers,” Wajselfish said. “For that reason, we have to say the show was very successful for us. Some of our older customers showed up to renew acquaintances, but we made several new ones too.”

Wajselfish talked about the Leatherwood specialty. “There are three of us who are known for our successes with Black Forest carvings and sailors’ valentines or shellwork pictures. There’s Diana Bittel, us, and Paul Vandekar. We also specialize in Vienna bronzes and children’s pottery, but the Black Forest pieces are probably what we’re most recognized for.

“We had a very nice multi-item sale to collectors from the Cape at the show.

“We’ve only done three shows so far this year, but we’ve made some very nice sales, five-to-six-item sales. We don’t usually carry the very expensive pieces, pieces up in the one hundred thousand dollar range, so our sales weren’t up there in that category, but it’s still quite impressive to sell multiple pieces at five to six thousand dollars each.

“What it all comes right down to, though, is that we made money. That is why dealers do shows,” Wajselfish concluded.

For more information on the show, go to (

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

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