Purchase Story

The Delaware Antiques Show

Wilmington, Delaware

The Delaware Antiques Show, held November 9-11, 2018, has a long tradition. It has been on collectors’ calendars since 1964 as the place for tax-fee shopping; there is no sales tax in Delaware! The show had half a dozen venues until it settled into Wilmington’s Chase Center on the Riverfront, just off interstate 95, where it has encamped for the last decade.

The floor plan has not changed in the last several years. You can find your favorite dealers in the same places: a convenience. Dealers love the show because they are treated very well, and since the Westin Wilmington hotel was built attached to the Chase Center, dealers can stay there and walk to the show without going outside. Moreover, the show committee feeds the dealers (the food is really good), and best of all, booth rent is reasonable. That is why it is one of the few shows that have a waiting list.

Campeche chair, Washington, D.C., circa 1820, 41" high x 36" wide x 28½" deep, $16,800 from Thistlethwaite Americana, Glasgow, Kentucky, and Alexandria, Virginia. It sold. The form originated in Mexico and was popularized by Thomas Jefferson. Most American Campeche chairs were made in Washington, D.C.

Charles Keates (left), a Philadelphia collector of prints and maps, read in the November 2018 issue of M.A.D. about a watch signed by Peter Stretch that James Kilvington (right) had bought at Alderfer’s auction, and he went to the show to buy the watch.

This cast-iron stove figure of George Washington wearing a toga, American, circa 1860, 46" tall, was deaccessioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Barbara Israel Garden Antiques, Katonah, New York, sold it to a woman who said she would donate it to Mount Vernon. The price was $5500. Called a dumb stove, it was designed by Alonzo Blanchard, patented in August 1843, and produced by Albany and Troy cast-iron stove works. The figure was also produced by other foundries, including J.L. Mott Iron Works in New York City.

John Chaski Inc., Camden, Delaware, asked $8500 for this creamware jug, probably Leeds, with the words “Let Not / Liberty be Sold / For Silver nor Gold / Your Votes freely give / To the brave & the / Bold.” The words are attributed to John Wilkes and seemed timely a week after the election.

The program is predictable. The preview party on Thursday evening is attended by those who support education at Winterthur, the show’s beneficiary. The Henry Francis du Pont Collectors Circle, which supports additions to the museum’s collections and its educational initiatives, meets annually at the time of the show. Attendees are entertained and get early access to the show. They come ready to buy. On Friday morning, a well-known designer talks to a full house of locals at 10 a.m. before the show opens at 11. In 2017 it was Martha Stewart; in 2018 it was Charlotte Moss, who, like Martha Stewart, has written a lot of books. Moss talked about the dining room, which was appropriate because a current exhibition at Winterthur, Dining by Design: Nature Displayed on the Dinner Table, is a sumptuous and stunning display of an enormous amount of china collected and used by H.F. du Pont.

Carol Cadou, Winterthur’s new Charles Montgomery Director and CEO, welcomed everyone on Friday morning and was there for the preview as well. Tom Savage, director of museum affairs, introduced Charlotte Moss, who made her audience want to own the accouterments of gracious living. She said every room can be a dining room, suggesting breakfast in bed, lunch in the garden, tea in the library, and dinner in the dining room. No, dining rooms are not obsolete; at least not in the South. Her pictures were all of southern houses.

Moss is a big-time collector, and she is mad for china. She said she did some shopping at the preview, buying four pieces of pearlware with the Farmers’ Arms from Martyn Edgell, who came from the U.K., and a wheelbarrow filled with a creamware dinner service from New York dealer Paul Vandekar. “I’d rather not eat than eat off an ugly plate,” she said. “Setting the table is everyday decorating.”

Moss may have inspired some collectors. Dealers in ceramics A.J. Warren, Mark Allen, Martyn Edgell, and Paul Vandekar all said they sold well. There were some extraordinary ceramics, including a reticulated creamware fruit bowl at Samuel Herrup’s booth and Dutch sgraffito. John Chaski had an 18th-century creamware political jug that seemed current just days after the elections. On it are the words “Let Not / Liberty be Sold / For Silver nor Gold / Your Votes freely give / To the brave & the / Bold.”

Folk art carved wooden and painted bird, possibly by George Boyd (1873-1941), Seabrook, New Hampshire, $2600 from Newsom & Berdan Antiques & Folk Art, Abbottstown, Pennsylvania.

Famille rose punch bowl once in the collection of Elinor Gordon, $12,000 from Polly Latham Asian Art, Boston, Massachusetts.

This Salem, Massachusetts, sampler by Betsey Gill, Sarah Stivour’s school, 1781, from the Betty Ring collection, was $11,000 from M. Finkel & Daughter, Philadelphia, and it sold. M. Finkel & Daughter photo.

The show echoes Winterthur’s strengths: mostly formal furniture, textiles, metals, historical paintings, and ceramics, and not much folk art. The most memorable and talked-about offerings were a pair of paintings of the waterworks at Fairmount by Thomas Doughty (1793-1856) and a very rare watercolor in its original églomisé frame by George Beck (1748-1812), Schuylkill below the Falls, which shows Sweetbriar Mansion in the distance. Thomas Doughty was an early Hudson River school painter, and George Beck was one of the first English trained landscape artists to work in America. These paintings had not been seen in a quarter of a century. The consensus was that they are museum quality, and that they should go to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Perhaps they will.

A watercolor and needlework picture provoked as much interest as these paintings. It depicts the Marquis de Lafayette and his son and the Washington family assembled at George and Martha Washington’s tomb at Mount Vernon. Carol and Stephen Huber said they had bought it privately seven years ago and were showing it for the first time because they had completed their research. Nelly Custis is shown holding a piece of light blue ribbon that was divided among the group as a memento of the occasion. The ribbon, an emblem of the Society of the Cincinnati, was attached to a ring with a strand of George Washington’s hair given to Lafayette, and then the ribbon was cut up and divided among the group. All the figures are identified, thanks to a contemporary description of the event that appeared in the Richmond, Virginia, Richmond Enquirer on November 2, 1824. The picture sold after the show to a private collector.

James Kilvington from Delaware made the most significant sale at the preview, finding a buyer for a watch signed “Petr. Stretch / PHILADELPHIA,” the only known watch signed by a Philadelphia 18th-century clock maker. The buyer was Charles Keates, a Philadelphia lawyer who collects prints and maps. He said he had read about the discovery of the watch in Maine Antique Digest (see November 2018, p. 12-A), based on research by Jay Stiefel after Kilvington had bought the watch at Alderfer’s.

“I collect paper. I have nothing like it in my collection, but I know the Peter Stretch clock at the Library Company where I serve on the board, and I realize how rare this is,” Keates said.

There are only three 18th-century watches signed by American makers, and this is the only 18th-century watch signed by a Philadelphia maker.

Ralph and Karen DiSaia of Oriental Rugs Ltd., Old Lyme, Connecticut, asked $3800 for this Kurdish rug, 8'2" x 3'10", circa 1900.

Bev Norwood of the Norwoods’ Spirit of America, Timonium, Maryland, sold this scherenschnitte to a collector from Texas who was inspired by the loan exhibition from Winterthur at this show, In Fine Form: The Striking Silhouette, which included some scherenschnitte works from the Winterthur Library collection.

Carved and gilded Classical sofa attributed to Isaac Vose and Son, Boston, Massachusetts, made for export to Charleston, South Carolina, circa 1820, mahogany and mahogany veneer, ash, poplar, and pine. A label shows that it was exported to the Charleston District. Christopher T. Rebollo Antiques, North Wales, Pennsylvania, priced it at $35,000 and sold it to a Virginia collector. The Philadelphia armchair bought at the show from James Kilvington was $12,500.

At the preview Christopher H. Jones Antiques, Alexandria, Virginia, sold this western North Carolina cupboard, probably Catawba County, yellow pine, circa 1880, 53" x 36" x 16". It is one of ten similar cupboards discussed in American Furniture 2009 by June Lucas, who pointed out that the feet are cut from the front stiles and that different colors are used for the stiles and rails and for the doors and top. It sold.

There was some very good furniture at the show. There was a fine Virginia tea table at the booth of Newsom & Berdan Antiques & Folk Art and a pair of Philadelphia Queen Anne chairs at James Kilvington’s booth, and there were four Pennsylvania dressing tables—three at Philip Bradley’s stand and one at Frank Levy’s.

Not all of the furniture was American. Peter Eaton showed a large English gate-leg table, and Samuel Herrup offered an English William and Mary daybed with fine carving and wavy banisters.

Some southern furniture sold quickly. Christopher Jones sold a North Carolina cupboard from Catawba County, and Kelly Kinzle sold a painted North Carolina cupboard with colorful decoration. On Sunday Christopher Rebollo sold a sofa made by Isaac Vose in Boston for export to Charleston, South Carolina, and it will return to the South.

Generally, locals buy Pennsylvania furniture, and there was plenty of Pennsylvania furniture from which to choose. Arthur Liverant sold a Chester County desk-and-bookcase. Christopher Rebollo sold a Philadelphia chest of drawers, sent an Ohio bench back to Ohio, and found buyers for a cane-back London chair, a New York sewing table, and a Philadelphia chest. He also sold a painting of a man with his flute to a musical family. Skip Chalfant sold a pair of balloon-seat Philadelphia Queen Anne chairs, a Kentucky rifle, prints of Washington and Lafayette, and some paintings. James Price sold a Pennsylvania tall chest, a tea table, a candlestand, a clock, a blanket chest, and a chest-on-frame. Philip Bradley Antiques sold a small Pennsylvania schrank and a Pennsylvania side chair. Kelly Kinzle found buyers for a painted dower chest, a cigar-store Indian, a painted box, a pair of fire buckets, and a small painted lift-top chest from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Taylor Thistlethwaite, at the Delaware show for the first time, sold a set of Maryland dining chairs, circa 1775, a Campeche chair made in Washington, D.C., a tea table, and some sconces. Then he bought three chairs from Jamie Price that matched a Philadelphia chair that he had brought to the show to make a set of four. Peter Eaton sold some furniture not made in Pennsylvania—a ball-foot blanket chest, a Nantucket chair, and a rare miniature courting mirror in its original box—and he sold candlesticks and bottles.

No one else made as many sales as Jonathan Trace. In addition to silver, he sold brass and furniture and paintings. On Friday he held forth at a table in the aisle surrounded by a group of Colonial Williamsburg curators. “Price it right, and it will sell” was his advice. Trace does just two shows a year—Delaware and the New Hampshire Antiques Show—and he has a loyal following.

Barbara Israel was among the top sellers. She sold more than half a dozen garden ornaments, including a George Washington dumb stove that sold to a patron who intends to donate it to George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Washington commemoratives appeared on a number of stands. Jesse Goldberg of Artemis Gallery had more than half a dozen pictures of Washington painted on glass, probably German, and some transfer-printed English plates and Liverpool jugs with Washington pictured. Kelly Kinzle had a stoneware pitcher with a bust of Washington on it. Black dolls, figures, and images were available. Joan Brownstein offered a large glass-plate photograph of a black family; Jewett-Berdan Antiques had a jigger doll and a pair of black waiters. There were four black rag dolls at the booth of Newsom & Berdan Antiques & Folk Art and two black rag dolls on Greg Kramer’s stand. James Kilvington had a Hubley cast-iron mammy doorstop. Stephen/Douglas offered a blackface paperweight.

There was Outsider art for the first time at the Delaware show. A picture of President Abraham Lincoln holding the Emancipation Proclamation with a slave in broken shackles kneeling before him was signed by an Outsider artist named Amos. It was $1500 at the booth of Arthur Liverant.

Although some sold well, others did not. Some said that they sold only smalls, no furniture, and a few said that they made no sales at all. “It is the tenor of the times,” said one seasoned dealer. “It is the way things are now,” said Diana Bittel, who manages this show.

The gate was about the same as in 2017. A good crowd came on Friday, including members of the Society of Winterthur Fellows, who met on Friday evening. Saturday was a busy day, and some came back to buy on Sunday. But not enough people bought with gusto as they did in the old days. Ceramics, brass candlesticks, needlework, and reasonably priced furniture sold.
For more information, contact Winterthur at 1-800-448-3883, or visit the website (www.winterthur.org/das).

Schwarz Gallery, Philadelphia, offered Thomas Doughty’s View of the Fairmount Waterworks, Philadelphia, from the West Bank of the Schuylkill River, 1826, and View of the Waterworks, on the Schuylkill Seen from the Top of Fairmount, Philadelphia, 1826. They were show-stoppers, Not seen since 1988 when they were on exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA), these views of the buildings designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe were the sources of similar prints found on transferware. The consensus was that they should be acquired by the PMA along with Schuylkill below the Falls, a watercolor by George Beck. The prices were on request. Schwarz photos. 

Originally published in the January 2019 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2019 Maine Antique Digest

comments powered by Disqus
Web Design By Firefly Maine Maine Web Design