Purchase Story

Tighter and Better: Gurley Show in Deerfield

Deerfield Antique Show, Deerfield, New Hampshire

When we walked into one of two long tin-roofed buildings at the Deerfield Fairgrounds, located about 30 minutes from Manchester, New Hampshire, at 9 a.m. on August 6 to view the one-day Deerfield Antique Show, the first dealer we met said, “This show is tighter and much better.”

Carved figure, English, from a Long Island, New York, home, $2400 from Pillars Antiques, Freeport, Maine.

The nice, large double booth of Firehouse Antiques Center, Galena, Maryland.

Bradley & Hubbard andirons, $125 from Nathan Hale of Willimantic, Connecticut.

Papier-mâché puffin—say that fast five times—found in Maine, $495 from Robert and Terrie Martine of Falmouth, Maine.

What did he mean? Fewer exhibitors but better ones, more room for booths and walking down the aisles, fewer dealers outside (always a challenge for weather issues), and overall, a fast-moving, easy-in and -out show.

And it was fast. We saw a large crowd at the 10 a.m. opening, and most left with many purchases. Deerfield is known as an affordable show. Originated by Nan Gurley (d. 2016), a Maine dealer and show promoter who really knew all the ropes, the show carries on with her daughter, Rachel Gurley Libby, and son, Joshua Gurley. “Mom would approve,” we all said.

As one exhibitor put it, “They revived it. There is energy and dedication.”

Known for great smalls, the show offered more furniture this year because of the extra space. And the exhibitors were able to set up the day before to put it all together. It was hot all over the area for several days, but a true dealer/collector keeps drinking water, standing near fans wherever they can be found, and moving along at a tolerable pace.

The line was long, but the buyers were patient.

Eclectic smalls from S.B. Adams, Salem, Massachusetts, included an 1850s cannon, $1500, and a carved horse, $695.

Matt King of Marshfield, Massachusetts, holds a rare 18th-century bulbous jug, priced at $275.

What sold? A rare pottery jug, trade signs, painted wooden smalls, rocking horses, a ship model, baskets, and more. Rachel Gurley, in a phone interview after the show, said, “Deerfield was great. We had over 450 people come through. Despite the 90-degree temperatures, it was fabulous. Sales were amazing.”

Gurley has eliminated the early buying at all her shows. She said, “Early buying kills the energy of the day. There are only so many buyers, and they all want to be able to buy at the same time. Also it gives everyone a more leisurely experience for the day, not having to rush for an early buy.”

Yellow washstand, circa 1865, $495 from American Antiques, Hammondsport, New York.

The blue rocking horse was sold by Blue Dog Antiques, Stafford Springs, Connecticut.

Gurley calls her show the alternative show and a destination show, now led by longtime experienced but younger management, and she considers her dealers part of her extended family. She talked about phone calls she received in January from dealers and collectors who asked, “You are going back to Deerfield, aren’t you?”

For more information, call (207) 396-4255 or check the website (www.gurleyantiqueshows.com).

Rachel Gurley’s booth is always a treasure-trove of goodies, just as her mother’s booth always was. The red cupboard was $2600, and the large table, foreground, was $995.

Miniature carousel, $750 from Richard and Dianne Angelo of Keystone Crossing Antiques, Milford, New Hampshire.

Bartlett and Bristol scale, $295; doorstop, $89 from Double LL Antiques, Portland, Maine.

Miniature hotel front, $595 from Mike Caffarrela of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Twig stand, $75; candy mold, $165 from Suzanne Strickland of Kennebunkport, Maine.

Toss ’em sign, $275 from Tom Joseph of Limington, Maine.

Late 1800s puffy quilt, brightly colored, $475 from Cheryl Anne Reed of Lecanto, Florida.


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

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