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Smaller but Still the Biggest

August 9th, 2013

Dennis Raleigh of Wiscasset, Maine, always brings some great upscale stuff to this show. This year, he had a 19th-century patriotic drum for $3400 decorated with an American flag with a non-official star field of about 45. “It was made in Cleveland,” Raleigh confirmed via a “sunbeam” hole in the side that revealed a maker’s label.

Hyland-Hedges by the Sea, Belfast, Maine, offered for $1950 a fine Handel curved slag glass lamp base with a Bradley & Hubbard shade with swirling caramel panels in a delicate trumpet vine and floral frame.

Maine Antiques Festival, Union, Maine

Driving to the Maine Antiques Festival in Union, Maine, held this year August 9-11, was like following a Hansel and Gretel-type trail of bread crumbs. Numerous yard sale entrepreneurs dotted the roads leading to the mother lode at the Union fairgrounds, enticing the crowds flowing into the show. (I found some antique hardware for my storm doors but just missed a chance at a $250 fiberglass canoe.) 

Like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, the real deal happens at the center of it all. About 125 to 150 dealers set up at the show, well below the peak of 350 exhibitors a decade or so ago, but it’s still the largest outdoor antiques show in northern New England. What’s left is like the cream that rises to the top, and the cream is content to hang in there and return year after year. Long gone is the flea market fodder, and what’s left are dealers showing “wicked good stuff,” to quote an overused Maine-ism. This was Paul Davis’s 32nd year of running the behemoth show, and many dealers have been there since day one. 

Friday’s setup and early-bird buying session was dampened by a torrential downpour that kept the casual lookers away but did nothing to deter some serious buyers. Umbrellas sprouted like polychrome mushrooms over a vast field of puddles and streams. The $25 early buyer’s fee was less of a deterrent than the weather, but most of the exhibitors were looking forward to a drier Saturday and Sunday, and fortunately they weren’t disappointed. Two days of glorious sunshine more than made up for the soggy start.

Of the 50 or so dealers that I spoke with on Saturday, only a handful were less than happy with their take. Most of the rest have been regular exhibitors for years or decades, and they enthusiastically agreed that they’d be back next year.

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This mid-19th-century wallpapered box was lined with a copy of the Sunday School Advocate, a Christian newspaper dated April 30, 1853. Pam Peters of Georgia, Vermont, priced it at $395. “It’s a great show, and the customers just keep coming and coming and coming,” she said with a smile.

Kathy Tarr, appropriately known as The Victorian Rose of Wenham, Massachusetts, showed a beautiful display of Limoges china, including this $800 gilt-trimmed plate with a hand-painted image of blushing roses.

This large and appealing hooked rug with a winter scene of a father and son returning from a hunt with their quarry slung over a pack mule was $550 from Adin Poole of Ironstone Antiques, Chester, Vermont. “We’ve had a great show,” he exclaimed. “It’s been excellent despite the torrential downpour yesterday.”

A parade of silent butler ashtrays marched across the front of the booth of Paula Cohen of Your Grandma Had It, Brooklyn, New York. The tall court jester was $175, the bellhop was $125, and I missed the price on the sailor. “The jester is much harder to find,” Cohen suggested.

The plane truth is that this oversized jointer was a non-functioning advertisement. “It probably was a store incentive, or it might have been a trade stimulator,” Tom Cheap of Northport, Maine, and Scottsburg, Indiana, suggested. It was made by Heywood-Wakefield as revealed by a label inside a drawer on the end. It even had a wedge and a false cutter. It was $1650.

Gary Taylor of Bloomin’ Antiques, Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire, brought along about 35 pieces of Rose Medallion china, ranging from an 11¾" charger for $450 to a couple of egg cups for $100 for the pair, and an early “sand bottom” plaque for $275.

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

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