Purchase Story

The Delaware Antiques Show

Wilmington, Delaware

Was it the buoyant stock market, the promise of tax cuts, realistic prices on dealers’ tags in a tax-free state, or the hard work of dealers who reached out to clients ahead of time that that made shoppers ready to buy at the Delaware Antiques Show in Wilmington, Delaware, held November 10-12, 2017? It was all of the above.

Dealers, who rarely sell during the opening party, sold this time at the preview on Thursday, November 9. On Friday, serious collectors came and made it a bang-up selling day. “I never stopped writing sales receipts on Friday,” said Polly Latham, a Boston dealer in China trade porcelain. “Pieces made for the American market sold first,” she said. “People made up their minds right away, and I sold a variety of porcelain and a tea caddy with painted views of China in the mid-nineteenth century.”

“I had the best preview ever,” said Mark Allen of Laconia, New Hampshire. “I sold a collection of six Dutch Delft tobacco jars, English and Dutch Delft bowls and plates and figures,” he noted. Up until closing time on Sunday he said he continued to sell delft, brass candlesticks, especially early ones, some iron, a corner cupboard, and a bucket bench.

Ceramics filled the shelves of other specialists who said that they also made multiple sales. Martyn Edgell, who came from the U.K., sold early wares, Westerwald, and Bellarmines, as well as mochaware. A.J. Warren, who carries on Maria and Peter Warren Antiques, her late parents’ business in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, sold English cauliflower wares, a pineapple teapot, and Chinese porcelain. Paul Vandekar sold a rare pair of Staffordshire squirrels, a Chinese export garniture, English delft, creamware wall pockets, Westerwald, and Bellarmines. Greg Kramer sold American redware and stoneware. In addition to English ceramics and American redware, Samuel Herrup sold some 20th-century Jugtown vessels with a striking turquoise Chinese glaze to collectors of earlier wares who said they would start a new collection. Jesse Goldberg sold transfer-printed jugs, and his figure of Benjamin Franklin, labeled “Washington,” was bought for Mount Vernon.

Creamware plate in a salt-glaze mold, $3000 from A.J. Warren of Maria and Peter Warren Antiques, Sandy Hook, Connecticut.

Sheffield, Massachusetts, dealer Samuel Herrup likes all kinds of pottery. These two pieces are Jugtown with a Chinese blue glaze and were made in Seagrove, North Carolina, circa 1930. Two other Jugtown pieces sold to collectors who said they found a new category to collect. The smaller piece was $1200; the larger one, $2400.

Seasoned collectors who flock to this show always have room for another teapot or pap boat but can hardly fit in another piece of furniture, so it was gratifying to see so much furniture sell, and some of it to young collectors. Arthur Liverant sold a New England sideboard and could have sold it twice. There was also a red dot on his fully developed Connecticut desk and on his New England corner chair. Skip Chalfant sold a William and Mary dressing table, a corner chair, and a Philadelphia side chair. Peter Eaton sold a Dutch draw table, a rare drop-leaf table made of lignum vitae, a Boston chest of drawers, a Connecticut Valley candlestand, and a Schoharie, New York, painted chest. At the preview he had a red dot on his Queen Anne high chest with deeply cut fans and pierced finials. He said that he had purchased it privately in Newburyport the weekend before the show. “It had never been out of the family,” he said.

Dealers like to buy at a show as well as sell. Frank Levy said he bought Eaton’s high chest, and he sold a dressing table, a Philadelphia Rococo side chair, and a pair of sconces and considered that a successful show.

Eaton was not the only one to sell a high chest. Sumpter Priddy III sold a New England high chest, circa 1735, and delivered it on Sunday morning. Philip Bradley had to send his diminutive corner cupboard to Michigan. Jeffrey Tillou sold an oval-top tea table, a tall-case clock, a girandole mirror, two weathervanes, several burl bowls, and folk portraits to collectors from Georgia, New Jersey, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Peter Eaton of Newbury, Massachusetts, sold this Newbury mahogany high chest with deeply carved fans in the top and lower sections, an arcaded skirt, carved legs on platform feet, original brasses, and original pierced flame finials, 1785-90. Eaton said that he had purchased it from a Newbury family the week before the show, and it was never out of the family.

As the show was closing, James Price sold a late 18th-century Philadelphia chest-on-chest with original brasses and an old finish, priced reasonably at $11,500. He had sold two clocks, a William and Mary desk, and a Chippendale tall chest, and had institutional interest in his two best pieces, a dower chest and desk that he had first offered in Philadelphia. Some of the finest furniture for sale at the Delaware show had been seen at other shows. “There is such a scarcity of tens that eights and nines are what is available,” is the way one wag put it.

Several dealers said the prices on their tags were asking prices; most were ready to deal. “Even if they don’t ask I give buyers a discount,” said Stephen Corrigan of Stephen-Douglas Antiques, Rockingham, Vermont, who sold constantly during the show.

At what other show is there a chance for so much comparative shopping? There were three turned gate-leg tables made in the first part of the 18th century, and three more drop-leaf dining tables in the Queen Anne style made in the South, the Middle States, and New England.

Among the rarest furniture was Christopher Rebollo’s Federal turned and inlaid lolling chair, probably made in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, or Salem, Massachusetts, 1800-15, with delicate turned legs and an extra scallop at the juncture at the end of the arm and with its original webbing and sailcloth under-upholstery intact.

The great discovery at the show was the Mott family small mahogany marble-top mixing or serving table made in New York, 1745-60, with a center shell and grasses carved on its skirt and leaves on its knees. It was on Sumpter Priddy’s stand at the front of the show. “The carving relates to a group of New York tea tables,” said Priddy. “A dealer in European things brought it to me because he thought it was southern. I told him it wasn’t southern; it is quintessential New York.” Priddy asked $168,000 for it. It comes with its original white marble top, but Priddy replaced the plain top with a richer piece of King of Prussia marble that made it even more appealing.

The Mott family shell-carved mahogany slab table, the front molding shell and skirt carved from one solid piece, the flower carved on the knee related to a group of New York tea tables, 28" high x 26" in diameter x 19½" deep, $168,000 from Sumpter Priddy III of Alexandria, Virginia. The King of Prussia marble top is a replacement, and some knee returns are replaced.

Hilary and Paulette Nolan of Falmouth, Massachusetts, offered a rare Massachusetts side chair, possibly Nantucket, 1745-75, pictured and discussed by Winterthur’s Brock Jobe in Harbor and Home, plate 13, and exhibited at Winterthur and at the Nantucket Historical Society. It was $23,000.

The third great rarity was the Massachusetts side chair, possibly Nantucket, 1745-75, pictured and discussed by Winterthur’s Brock Jobe in Harbor & Home(2009), plate 13, and exhibited at Winterthur and at the Nantucket Historical Society, offered by Hilary and Paulette Nolan of Falmouth, Massachusetts. The chair was $23,000, and it sold to a collector.

Joan Brownstein of Newbury, Massachusetts, asked $85,000 for this Ammi Phillips portrait of Ann Miller Tompkins (1813-1894), mid-1830s, a classic example of the artist’s mid-Kent period, 1824-39, one of a small group of leaning women wearing stylized black dresses with an arm resting on a small table with books. Ann Miller was born in Somers, New York, and married John M. Tompkins. The painting descended in the family until Brownstein acquired it.

There were not many folk portraits for sale, but five sold. Joan Brownstein sold an Ammi Phillips portrait of Ann Miller Tompkins of Somers, Westchester County, New York. Jeffrey Tillou sold an Ammi Phillips portrait of a young woman painted in Amenia, Dutchess County, in 1829-30, and Tillou also sold a rare pair of watercolors in contemporary frames of a young boy holding a red book and his sister in a red dress holding flowers. Jewett-Berdan Antiques, Newcastle, Maine, sold a triple portrait of three children, two girls and a boy, by Philadelphia artist William Hillyer, signed and dated 1835.

There was a lot of energy at the show. A young couple looked at a rug at Karen DiSaia’s booth for a long time, and they took it home to try. There were first-rate textiles for sale. John Chaski offered a New England table rug of embroidery, cutwork, and trapunto picturing an urn surrounded by chickens and peacocks. Jewett-Berdan Antiques had a three-dimensional white-on-white bedcover that Mack Truax II, Winterthur’s lighting guru and scholar Bob Trent’s partner, thought was “the best of show.” The urn of flowers in its center, surrounded by a garland, was made of raised white cotton cord, the precursor to chenille. Colette Donovan had an embroidered coverlet strewn with flowers folded on a shelf. You had to ask to see it. On her wall she had a broderie perse bedcover made of English chintz in New England, the perfect size for a queen-size bed. Marcy Burns’s Navajo textile woven of Germantown yarns circa 1880-90 was a strong presence on her wall.

Jonathan Trace was seen packing up ten pieces of silver for one client; he had a very good show. Spencer Marks sold a very rare Obadiah Rich Classical American silver teapot, circa 1830, with bold cast mask handles, a gate-shaped lever that opened and closed the spout, and figures of Demeter on the top. “We sold silver from the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries, flatware, and hollowware,” said Spencer Gordon. “It was a very busy show.”

Paintings sold too. Robert Schwarz said he sold seven works of art, and Skip Chalfant, who sold mostly furniture, sold a few paintings as well. Lori Cohen moved the Arader Galleries booth up front when pewter dealer Melvyn Wolf drove back to Flint, Michigan, with a kidney stone. She sold several maps, an Audubon fawn, and a collection of 19th-century prints of early baseball teams.

Barbara Israel, a Katonah, New York, specialist in garden accessories, sold nearly every piece on her stand, not only stone and metal sculpture but also a mural.

Dealers put a lot of energy into this last major show of the season because it benefits the Winterthur Museum, the measure of excellence in the field. At what other show can you find the first urban plan of Savannah (at Arader Galleries) or a silver salver by Myer Myers (at S.J. Shrubsole)? Most dealers left happy knowing that there is an audience that enjoys Americana and the social experience of an antiques show. Many of the same collectors will continue their pursuit of excellence at the Winter Antiques Show at the Park Avenue Armory in January and at the Philadelphia Antiques & Art Show in April before returning to Delaware November 9-11, or for the preview on November 8.

For more information, contact Winterthur at 1-800-448-3883, or visit the website (www.winterthur.org/das).

Rare walnut sulfur-inlaid blanket chest made for Cadarina Moser, dated 1801,Lancaster County, with inlaid tulips, strap hinges inside, $17,500 from Skip Chalfant of H.L. Chalfant, West Chester, Pennsylvania. It is mentioned in the 2015 Chipstone American Furniture journal.

Federal turned and inlaid lolling chair, probably Portsmouth, New Hampshire, or Salem, Massachusetts, 1800-15, mahogany, satinwood, holly, ebony, pine, and birch, with its original under-upholstery including the tape, 46" x 24¼" x 21½", $25,000 from Christopher Rebollo of North Wales, Pennsylvania.

Chelsea red anchor period porcelain charger, one of the largest of its type, $9500 from Paul Vandekar of Earle D. Vandekar of Knightsbridge Inc., Maryknoll, New York.

Jewett-Berdan Antiques, Newcastle, Maine, asked $5500 for this white-on-white bedcover, circa 1815, in excellent condition.

This Dutch Delft plate of a cooper at his trade was $4600 from Mark Allen of Laconia, New Hampshire.

Scratch-blue salt-glaze large-handled cup, 6½" high, $4800 from Martyn Edgell Antiques, Nassington, Northamptonshire, U.K.

Originally published in the February 2018 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2018 Maine Antique Digest

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