Purchase Story

The Main Line Antiques Show

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The 12th annual Main Line Antiques Show to benefit Surrey Services for Seniors was a different show this time. “I decided it should be a lifestyle show, not just an antiques show,” said Anne F. Hamilton, the enthusiastic cochair of the show, held in the gymnasium of Cabrini College right in the middle of Philadelphia’s posh Main Line October 6-8, 2017.

Able show manager Nicholas Vandekar rounded up a diverse group of dealers. Some of them were loyal locals with expected first-rate American antiques, paintings, and prints; there were three jewelry dealers; and there were some newcomers with vintage handbags, Hermès scarves, Louis Vuitton trunks, and interior decorating advice. Valley Forge Flowers showed garden and conservatory accessories, and Pandemic Design had wall planters and contemporary lighting. Half a dozen of the new dealers were recruited in August at the Palm Beach Show Group’s Baltimore show, where they had sold well; they looked forward to seeing their Pennsylvania clients in their own backyards. Ladybag International, Branded Luxury Unlimited, and Gem de La Gem were there; Jill Fenichell brought porcelain, pottery, and glass; John Forster of Barometer Fair offered barometers; and Thierry and Jasmine Doussiere of Silver Art by D & R, Marseille, France offered French silver. “We stayed on to do a show in Houston that was called off because of the hurricane, so we were glad to put the Main Line show on our calendar,” said Jasmine Doussiere.


The French silversmith Alphonse Debain won an award for an asparagus server called main pince in French or hand tongs. This one in the Art Nouveau style with a chimera head was $1600 from Silver Art by D & R, Marseille, France.


Paul Vandekar of Earle D. Vandekar of Knightsbridge, Maryknoll, New York, offered prints of birds and flowers in stunning floral églomisé frames. The botanical prints by Johann Weinmann (1638-1741) were $35,000 for ten of them (nine shown). The bird prints by François-Nicolas Martinet (1731-1800), 1770, from Histoire Naturelle des Oiseaux, were $25,000 for 12, of which eight are shown.


John Forster of Barometer Fair, Sarasota, Florida, asked $2450 for this rare circa 1850 French églomisé diamond-shaped barometer with an exposed needle. The glass has silver foil behind it for reflection. The mahogany ship’s barometer, circa 1845, on the right, is a rare bowfront design with a cushion top and Gothic arch over the thermometer; it is signed by Bassnett, Liverpool (1841-1855). It was $3900. Forster said he sold two nice barometers and an early American compass in the style of Chandlee on Sunday afternoon.

Dealers made some sales—barometers and French silver were in demand—but most exhibitors complained that very few people came to the show on Saturday, and though attendance was better on Sunday, it was not a big buying crowd. “We make a huge effort to alert our clients when we are exhibiting at shows,” said Lori Cohen, director of Arader Galleries, who showed 19th-century maps of Lower Merion and Montgomery County, the local neighborhood, Audubon’s quadrupeds, a variety of botanical prints, and more. Matt Baer of The Ivory Tower, Fleming Island, Florida, agreed. He and his father before him, Marvin Baer, who died in 2016, have been selling Japanese Satsuma, Imari, Sumida, and Kutani at shows for two generations. He said that there are fewer and fewer shows where he can meet his clients, some of whom are aging and downsizing, and that he hopes to meet new collectors at shows.


Lori Cohen, the director of Arader Galleries in Philadelphia, asked $3000 for this 28¼" x 38" map of Lower Merion by lithographer L. Sinclair, published in Philadelphia in 1851, with hand coloring.


William Ellis Morris (1812-1875), map of Montgomery County from original surveys published by Smith & Wistar, circa 1849, steel engraving with hand coloring, printed on linen, 39" x 55", $6800 from Arader Galleries, Philadelphia.

Prints and paintings were a strong suit at this show. Hollie Powers Holt offered two striking 9' long prints of the Column of Marcus Aurelius in Rome by Giovanni Battista Piranesi, along with prints of fish and flowers and some photographs. Paul Vandekar offered 17th-century prints of birds and flowers in stunning églomisé frames in groups of ten and 12 all ready to go. Art dealers Fletcher-Copenhaver Fine Art, Fredericksburg, Virginia, and Dixon-Hall Fine Art, Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, were joined by Robert Quilter of Baltimore, Maryland, offering a broad selection of paintings in this well-balanced 30-dealer show.

The preview party was festive, but those who came to support the four senior centers run by Surrey Services came to support Surrey, not to buy. On a gorgeous Saturday, the show had competition from the St. David’s fair and Chester County Day. Moreover, Philadelphians and those in the greater Philadelphia area don’t come to the Main Line for an antiques show. “We have to make an antiques show a cool place to be,” said Jill Fenichell. “Maybe even mix lifestyle with fashion. Philadelphia may be the next Brooklyn, ready for a real renaissance, but for this show to survive, it must attract a larger audience and get the downtown crowd to come to the Main Line show, because it is cool and they can’t miss it.”


This haying scene by Henry Jarvis Peck (1880-1964), oil on canvas, 30" x 26¼", signed lower right, was $9500 from Dixon-Hall Fine Art, Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. Peck studied with Howard Pyle in Wilmington, Delaware, from 1902 to 1904. He was associated with Naamans-on-Delaware, Claymont, Delaware, so he is considered part of the Brandywine school, although he returned to his studio in Rhode Island and also had a studio in New York. He was a member of the Providence Art Club, and his illustrations were published in magazines, including Scribner’s and the Saturday Evening Post.


Hollie Powers Holt Fine Art offered two large prints (one shown, 113" x 30") of the Column of Marcus Aurelius in Rome by Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778) for $15,000 each. This print is found in some famous art collections, including the library of Sir John Richardson. Piranesi is better known for his prints of Rome and of prisons, but the column print is considered the culmination of his career. He used six large copper plates to produce his prints of this enormous column and backed them with linen, so that they were scrolls, 9' long. They record the iconography of this spiral narrative frieze dedicated to the memory of the emperor. The column was commissioned by his son to commemorate his father’s triumph over the Germanic tribes of barbarians in A.D. 176, and it was erected in the Piazza Colonna by A.D. 193.


There were several paintings of cows at this show. This one by Newbold Trotter (1827-1898), a 19th-century Philadelphia artist, was $2450 from Dale Hunt of the Antique Store in Wayne.

Dealers don’t believe a show has to be large to attract an audience. It has to entertain, educate, and, at the same time, give people an opportunity to buy things that they will not find anywhere else. The hunt has to be fun. “We need a place where we can talk to people who are ready to live with furniture and works of art that will give them daily pleasure and show them how its quality holds value,” said Taylor Thistlethwaite, a dealer from Kentucky who clearly enjoys exhibiting at shows. “Do you know any other business that lets you pay on time with no interest?” he asked. “Do people know that is what most antiques dealers do?”

For more information, go to (www.mainlineantiquesshow.com).


Ruth Van Tassel of Van Tassel-Baumann American Antiques, Malvern, Pennsylvania, asked $5800 for this rare pair of blown glass witch balls, late 19th century, Millville, New Jersey, with stands, blown in looped or a marble technique.


One of 20 plates of Mason’s ironstone and ironstone by Hicks & Meigh in the Japan pattern, circa 1810, that were priced at $400 apiece from Marcia Moylan and Jacqueline Smelkinson of The Spare Room, Baltimore, Maryland.


Large oil on canvas painting of the side-wheeler St. Nicholas, signed by John Bard (1815-1856), New York, 17" x 35", $18,500 from Skip Chalfant.


Stevens Antiques, Frazer, Pennsylvania, asked $5900 for this pair of mid-19th-century French oak bookcases with raised-panel doors and adjustable shelves.


Originally published in the January 2018 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2017 Maine Antique Digest

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