More paintings and prints than furniture sold at the 35th annual Chester County Antiques Show, which filled the riding ring at the Phelps School with a real, old-fashioned antiques show on April 8 and 9. The preview on April 7 that benefited the much-loved Chester County Historical Society was pretty well attended. Saturday’s crowd was smaller than usual, and the Palm Sunday crowd did not materialize until about 2 p.m. The result was spotty selling.
Some business was done. Philip Bradley sold a fine Philadelphia mahogany drop-leaf table with strong ball-and-claw feet that was once owned by George Meade Easby. Skip Chalfant found a buyer for a Chester County tall chest with fan inlay early in the show. Hilary Nolan sold a Coromandel screen and an Empire table with Chinese decoration, which he said was China trade, a sign for “Dr. Drake / Health & Reducing Treatments / Lady Attendant,” and some blue and white Canton porcelain. James Kilvington sold an Irish table, a Welsh Windsor chair, a George Cope landscape, and Chinese export porcelain. Dixon-Hall sold four paintings and a much-admired bronze sculpture of a cat with a dark green patina by Gerd Utescher (1912-1983).
Thomas Brown Antiques, McMurray, Pennsylvania, asked $3700 for this circa 1930 Adirondack table and four chairs. The set sold to the trade.
Ned Stinson and Brian Bartolotta of Mid-Atlantic Antiques, Greenville, Delaware, sold a six-piece silver tea service by Philadelphia silversmith Harvey Lewis to a descendant of its original Chester County owner, the Pennock family, and a Chester County velvet embroidered pocketbook with the initials “A M” for Abraham Marshall and the date 1770. Ned Stinson had a handful of receipts for other smalls.
Don Heller sold a leaping stag weathervane, one of a half-dozen appealing weathervanes at the show. Denise DeLaurentis sold a pair of botanical prints by Redouté, a set of six botanicals by Englishman John Hill from the mid-18th century, and more.
The show catalog had an article about the Hoopes, Bro. & Thomas Company, West Chester, once the largest nursery in Pennsylvania, which began in 1853, was very active until the 1920s, and continued in business until 1948. Another article in the show catalog, by William Woys Weaver, told about the largest collection of Native American and Colonial seeds in Pennsylvania, begun by Weaver’s grandfather H. Ralph Weaver in 1932. He has taken over the archive, which has grown to 4500 rare heirloom food plants. The archive is housed in historic Lamb Tavern in Easttown Township, Chester County.
The tin man stood outside a hardware store in the Germantown section of Philadelphia in the 1940s and 1950s. It was $1600 from Wesley Noonan-Sessa of Pottstown, Pennsylvania. The pair of Philadelphia side chairs with carved splats, molded legs, and original slip seats was $4900. The tin mirrored sconces were $2800; the shield-shaped ones, probably not American, were $900. The small Philadelphia looking glass was $375.
A Maine pine dressing table, 44" x 36" x 17½", in original yellow paint with green striping and stenciled fruit decoration with freehand highlights was $4400 from W.M. Schwind Jr. Antiques & Fine Art, Yarmouth, Maine.
No dealer sold as much as Mo Wajselfish of Leatherwood Antiques, Sandwich, Massachusetts. He had a table and four chairs in the middle of his stand and invited people to sit down and talk about what took their fancy. “I had an invisible fence around my booth, and they could not leave without buying something,” he joked. He sold Black Forest carvings, Vienna bronzes, folk art, and ceramics, including seven copper luster pitchers, popular in the 1920s to 1940s but lately a hard sell. “I put together a collection of luster pitchers for a client, and then I bought more, and they have been selling,” said Wajselfish. “I have only three left on my mantel.”
Mo Wajselfish of Leatherwood Antiques, Sandwich, Massachusetts, is shown holding forth at his table with four chairs, an area continuously filled with collectors ready to hear the stories he had to tell. He enjoyed the most successful show of all the dealers. The copper luster pitchers on the mantel, left to right, are $275, $295, and $350.
Many of the sales at this show were dealer-to-dealer. Wajselfish bought a much-admired Adirondack table and four tall-back chairs from Tom Brown. Malcolm Magruder said, “I always buy well at the show.” Vilnis Vitols of Strasburg, Virginia, showing at the Chester County show for the first time, said his sales were to dealers.
“I have a lot to learn about show business,” said Michael Gunselman of Wilmington, Delaware, another first-time exhibitor at the Chester County show. The retired graphic designer had a stunning booth with tin and pressed steel toys hung on brackets and screws so they floated on the wall.
Ann E. Colson (1797-1865) embroidered this map at Pleasant Valley School, a Quaker school near Athens, New York, with silk threads on silk in 1809. Bill and Joyce Subjack of Neverbird Antiques, Surry, Virginia, asked $10,000 for it.
Richard Worth of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, sold Sarah Weston’s sampler. Weston grew up in the house that is now the Dilworth Inn. Worth said the sampler may return to the inn. In typical Chester County fashion, the sampler has a silk ribbon border; this one is green, the color of serpentine stone used to build many Chester County houses.
One dealer summed up the show this way: “Tax time, spring vacations, Palm Sunday, and a gorgeous Sunday after days of rain and cold made it less than an ideal time for an antiques show, and the bombing in Syria on Thursday night didn’t help either.”
The mood was not buoyant late on Sunday afternoon. “We love the Chester County Historical Society and the long tradition of the show, but coming two weeks before the grand Philadelphia show that pulls from the same suburban Philadelphia pool of collectors is too much competition for any show,” pronounced another dealer.
The pictures and captions show a small sampling of what 48 passionate professional dealers showed at the Phelps School. Most of them said they hoped to return next year. See (www.chestercohistorical.org) for more information.
This pair of fan-back Windsors was $3850 from Joseph J. Lodge of Lederach, Pennsylvania.
Skip Chalfant of H.L. Chalfant American Fine Art & Antiques, West Chester, Pennsylvania, offered this rare Chester County piecrust tilt-top tea table with dovetailed battens, suppressed ball pedestal, and tripod cabriole legs ending in nicely carved feet, 1770-75, for $18,500. The pair of side chairs with cupid’s-bow crests, solid splats, cabriole legs, trifid feet, and an old dark surface, circa 1775, was $7500. The pair of New York state portraits in the manner of Ammi Phillips was $26,000.
This drawing of a bird with flowers, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, possibly Schwenkfelder, is watercolor and ink on wove paper, 4 3/8" x 3". There is a small repair to the top edge. It was $1950 from Philip Bradley.
Originally published in the June 2017 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2017 Maine Antique Digest