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The Newport Antiques Show

Julie Schlenger Adell | July 26th, 2013


G. Sergeant Antiques, Woodbury, Connecticut, asked $14,500 for this 51" diameter single-board Sheraton breakfast table; it sold. Gary Sergeant said he also sold a mid-18th-century George II English inlaid walnut chest (not shown); the asking price was $18,000.


Diana H. Bittel of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, asked $9500 for this late 19th-/early 20th-century New England wood birdhouse. “It would do better under a covered porch,” she remarked. She sold numerous rare shellwork pieces and other decorative items, plus a chest and a weathervane.


Martin Johnson Heade, Coast of Newport, 1874, oil on canvas, 51" x 72", $3.5 million from William Vareika Fine Arts, Ltd., Newport, Rhode Island.


This “very rare” Minton majolica stag and fox ice stand was available for $27,865 from Charles L. Washburne of Solebury, Pennsylvania. The table fountain, one of many hunting pieces from England, was used to chill fresh fruit.


This 12" x 10" oil on panel still life of two yellow pears, 1810-30, a gift of Bertram K. and Nina Fletcher Little, was part of Historic New England’s loan exhibit at the show, Windows on the Past: Four Centuries of Historic New England. Formerly owned by the Littles, Cogswell’s Grant in Essex, Massachusetts, is one of the 36 properties preserved by Historic New England.


Kelleher Fine Art sold View at Twilight-Bornhem by Joseph Gerard Van Luppen (Belgian, 1834-1891). The 13½" x 22½" oil on panel, signed and dated 1875, was priced at $8000. It was Ken Kelleher’s first year at this show.

Middletown, Rhode Island

Forty-three dealers set up shop in the hockey rink of St. George’s School in Middletown, Rhode Island, and many a cup—not a Stanley one—ran over at the sold-out Thursday evening preview party for the seventh annual Newport Antiques Show, held July 26-28.

“That party was on fire last night,” commented a dealer from California.

“No one wanted to go home,” said a representative of the Newport Historical Society, which together with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Newport County, was a beneficiary of the show.

Anne Hamilton, the driving force of the show and its chair, seemed pleased with the overall tone of the event. She said 650 people attended the preview party on July 25. Many of her friends support the show at a patron level, she explained, enabling the historical society and the Boys and Girls Clubs to receive checks of over $100,000 each.

There were some first-night sales, and lots of interest was generated. “They take their time here,” explained Diana Bittel, the show’s manager, who also owns an eponymous antiques business in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. The preview party used to be held on a Friday night, which seemed to conflict with Newporters’ weekend plans. “We moved it up to a Thursday night, and it works better for people,” said Bittel. “There’s so much going on up here on Saturdays and Sundays.”

Apparently, most sales were made either on opening night or in the last few hours of the show on Sunday. Roberto Freitas of Stonington, Connecticut, who deals in American antiques and decorative arts, sold a pair of Chinese export plates on opening night to a new customer. A couple interested in one of his marine paintings saw him while he was loading his van on Sunday (on his way to the Nantucket antiques show) and made an appointment to view it again at his shop the following week.

Marion Harris of New York City sold several pieces of Scottish agate and hardstone jewelry, including a “magnificent” brooch, circa 1880. “Newport was quite a good show for me,” she said. The committee strongly supports the show, and that “explains the strong interest at opening and then again on the last day when comparisons have been discussed at the various social events surrounding the show and decisions finally made.”

One dealer, who was exhibiting for the second time, said the atmosphere “feels like the excitement we used to see years ago. The people behind the show psych up their friends,” and added, “you can’t go wrong in a historic town like this.”

History was very much on display at the show’s loan exhibit, Windows on the Past: Four Centuries of Historic New England, presented by Historic New England. The private, nonprofit organization preserves 36 properties that are open to the public as house museums, and it has a collection of 110,000 objects and more than a million archival materials, which are stored in an old shoe factory in Haverhill, Massachusetts, and a library in Boston.

Lots of rain fell all day Friday. Whether that affected attendance, no one could say, but some dealers said having a presence at the show is almost as important as selling, and a few said they had made excellent connections with collectors whom they didn’t know before.

“There was steady, genuine interest from a big part of the crowd,” said one dealer, a first-time exhibitor at the show. “I do twenty-four shows a year, and I’m all over the map…There was a markedly different interest level in the merchandise,” he opined.

Bill Vareika of William Vareika Fine Arts, Ltd, Newport, Rhode Island, a presenting sponsor every year since the show’s inception in 2007, explained that most people in Newport “know us and come to the gallery.” However, on opening night, “I met someone with a new home in Newport and another gentleman with Rhode Island connections [I’d] never met before.”

He charmed a young patron by dimming the lights on a $3.5 million Martin Johnson Heade large oil so she could see the sun set in the painting. Coast of Newport was painted in 1874, he explained to the girl and her family, “just a few miles away from here.”

In fact, the area surrounding St. George’s School, “a picturesque section of Middletown on the southeastern tip of Aquidneck Island, is an area known as ‘Paradise,’” Vareika explained. “It’s one of the most celebrated settings in the artistic heritage of Newport.” Paradise’s natural beauties “inspired generations of well-known American artists,” he continued. Among them were William Trost Richards, Jasper Francis Cropsey, John LaFarge, Winslow Homer, and Elihu Vedder.

Rehs Galleries, New York City, sold a few paintings and had “lots of interest” in others. G. Sergeant Antiques, Woodbury, Connecticut, sold an English George II inlaid walnut chest and a round Sheraton breakfast table. James L. Kilvington, Inc., Dover, Delaware; The Cooley Gallery, Old Lyme, Connecticut; David Brooker Fine Art, Southport, Connecticut; and Kelleher Fine Art, Turlock, California, sold small landscapes and marine paintings. All the jewelry dealers sold well, said Bittel.

“Anything with water seems to go over well in this part of the country,” said one dealer, but he cautioned that “if you think you’ve figured it out, you’re done in this business.”

Maria and Peter Warren of Wilton, Connecticut, sold some creamware, and Oriental Rugs Ltd., Old Lyme, Connecticut, sold a 100-year-old 9' x 12' Serapi. Dealers buy and sell among themselves, usually before the show when they are setting up their booths, but as the show was nearing its 4 p.m. closing time on Sunday afternoon, several exhibitors were seen making final deals with each other.

Some last-minute buyers were seen walking out with their purchases when the show closed. “Hope to see you next year,” said one customer to her silver dealer as she happily left with her purchase.

For more information, call (401) 846-2669; Web site (www.newportantiquesshow.com).

This circa 1820 bridal clock from Jämtland, Sweden, 7'4" x 23" x 7", has elaborate carved floral decoration and a carved crown at the bonnet. Dawn Hill Antiques, New Preston, Connecticut, priced it at $11,000.

Bibi Mohamed of Imperial Fine Books, Inc., New York City, holds a first-edition copy of George C. Mason’s Newport and Its Cottages (1875). Priced at $6500, the folio-size book with 109 hinged leaves is illustrated with 45 full-page heliotype plates.


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

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