Suzanne SÃ¡rvÃ¡ri Crofoot chats with Hinsdale, Illinois, decorator and art dealer Sheryl Srivastava. They're admiring the pair of late 19th-century European carved pine putti hanging at right foreground ($4700). Note how they hang in opposite poses. Taking them from the wall, Crofoot showed how lightweight they are.
The embroidery is a detail from a Victorian screen with stunning textile panels in satin work and petit point ($2600). Suzanne Crofoot of Lakeville, Indiana, sold the screen, which will go to Naples, Florida, with its new owner.
As have many dealers, Bruce Shelton of Nashville, Tennessee, has taken another look at luxury accessories, particularly designer handbags. We're seeing them more and more in cases at shows. He's holding a circa 1997 double-flap Chanel bag. Priced at $3500, it comes with the original dust/storage bag.
Talk about committing a faux pas! We asked Filip Marona of Ile de France Antiques if he had painted the French three-drawer commode. Since he also offers restoration services, we should have asked whether it had been retouched. At any rate, the circa 1770 French commode is in beautiful condition, is equipped with later glove boxes and 19th-century hardware, and has had touchups through time. It was priced at $16,000. The American bird's-eye and curly maple sewing table at right was $1600.
The set of circa 1900 fish-form Sarreguemines pottery includes 12 plates, a charger, a covered tureen, and a sauceboatall for $2100 from Anthony Scornavacco of Minneapolis, Minnesota.
by Danielle Arnet
One has to admire a show promoter who tells the unvarnished truth. Summing up the third North Shore Antiques Dealers Association's (NSADA) Winnetka Summer Antiques Show, held June 8-10 in Winnetka, Illinois, association president Judith Andersen parsed her comments skillfully.
As Andersen put it following a meeting of the show committee three days after the event closed, "We were pleased with the way the show looked, but less pleased with sales."
Angela Brinton of Racine, Wisconsin, who deals in 19th-century furniture and accessories, told us, "It turned out to be a bigger picture of gloom than anybody anticipated."
Before giving details, some history is in order. We've covered the show housed in the Winnetka Park District ice arena since its debut in 2010, and we've seen it grow from a heroically improvised event with booth walls of paper-covered pegboard to a visually attractive event with carpeting and wide aisles.
Consider the challenges of holding this show in an ice arena. NSADA has literally days to convert an over 17,000-square-foot, cavernous interior space that has floor freezing capability but no air conditioning into an an attractive showplace. When the ice melts in preparation for yearly maintenance, vast patches of paint come off with it.
NSADA hires a local contractor to supervise the work, including carpeting the entire floor and installing portable air conditioning with ducts before the show. Add electrical workers, security, carpenters, porters, and more, and you get an idea of the costs incurred. The show program credited 19 volunteers.
Each year, the show's appearance becomes more professional and polished. Clearly, the promoters and dealers don't stintnot on effort, not on merchandise, not on setup.
Walking in this year, one had no sense of being in a suburban show. We recognized many sellers as veterans of the Merchandise Mart International Antiques Fair in Chicago and other major shows. All brought their best, and many traveled from some distance, including New York, Kentucky, Georgia, Tennessee, and Ohio. Area dealers of similarly high level were all known to Winnetka buyers.
One could always count on Winnetka and North Shore Illinois buyers. The affluent community 14 miles north of Chicago unfailingly supported semiannual shows in the Winnetka Community House. For 40 years, there was an antiques show in March and a Modernism show in the fall. After a showless year in 2009, a combined fall antiques and Modernism show debuted in 2010.
The point is, historically there has been money spent on antiques in Winnetka. Young homeowners, especially, gathered around antiques events as volunteers and buyers. One could spot sleek young locals and Chicago area buyers enthusiastically talking about this or that piece of furniture, porcelain, or whatever. Watching them buy was a joy.
Last year's NSADA show was a blockbuster, and dealers were ecstatic over attendance and sales. Walking the show, we could see a lot going on, saleswise. Happy days.
This year, however, the affect was flat. Physically, the show could not have been more perfect; it was the mood that was off. Buoyancy was missing. We saw a lot of looking but little buying. At the risk of being politically incorrectand we're no spring chickenthe crowd looked, well, old. Where were the young collectors?
With her usual humor, Brinton added, "Saturday and Sunday brought a big crowd of zombies."
"Tire kickers?" we asked.
"No, at least tire kickers are alive," she countered.
And yet, said Andersen, evaluations from the 50 participating dealers were positive. All but one said they would return for the 2013 show.
Friday evening hours from 5 to 9 p.m. brought the best sales; a $10 admission included repeat entry. Sunday, often a time for consummating sales, was flat with only a slight uptick at the very end.
Friday's attendance amounted to at least 30% of the gate, said Andersen. Many "serious people" returned on Saturday for another look, and total attendance was over 1000, she reported. The same total was reported last year.
In his second year at the show, dealer Ron Lotz of St. Louis told us that he had a better show, saleswise, this year than last, selling "the finest circa 1840 English lap box I've ever owned," a small late 18th-century steel and brass British colonial chest, and assorted small items.
"There were fantastic deals," he said of the show. One could buy well, but too many didn't.
Attributing lack of buying partially to the economy and partially to an election year with "people waiting to see what happens," Andersen also tagged a children's fair in the village for siphoning attendance.
Reporting that "there were a lot of lookers," Lotz added, "I think we're facing people who already have everything they need." With home buying down, people simply do not need another table, or chest, or objet d'art.
Worse, he added, "young people seem to be uninterested in antiques."
On the upside, however, he described the show as "one of the nicest high-quality shows around. The promoters should be commended for the balance of merchandise. That's a rarity today."
"In difficult times," he continued, "with the antiques industry struggling, their reasonable booth rental is very much appreciated."
For more information, phone (847) 814-2358; Web site <www.winnetkasummerantiquesshow.com>.
Dover House Antiques displayed circa 1810 Chrysanthemum pattern earthenware on the shelves at left. The top shelf holds a pair of fleur-de-lis finials, perhaps from a carnival ride, for $495; two round plates for $395 each; and a leaf-shaped plate for $895. The middle shelf is centered by a lidded tureen with stand, priced at $3900. The floor-standing tole tray at lower left was $1750, and the circa 1840 tole trays at right ranged from $150 to $845 apiece.
Finnegan Gallery, Chicago, decorated its space with enough grapevines to build a ship. Here, vines surround a larger-than-life pair of circa 1875 weathered limestone figures representing winter and summer, available for $16,000. The 108" high x 65" wide French late 19th-century iron window frame with a section that opens for ventilation was $3800. Partially seen in front is a terra-cotta tazza urn for $975.