Thursday
Jan242019

Winter Show 2019, Park Avenue Armory

It is a rainy Thursday in North Jersey. Temperatures are in the upper 50s, a far cry from 4 degrees this past Monday. Such are the temperature fluctuations in this region. At least there is no snow to hinder visitors to the Winter Show at the Park Avenue Armory. The Show runs from January 18-27 so there is still time to see some marvelous displays.

We went to the Show on Saturday the 19th. I like to go as early as possible to enjoy the enthusiasm of the opening days. It is now Thursday. I have not had a moment to write until now and I am reflecting on what I saw and how I see the state of the market.

My main interest is Americana. There were about ten dealers of Americana that I coud recall who were exhibiting at the Winter Show. Every booth was magnificent and always inspiring. But, I missed the colleagues who were not there. The feel of the show was different and to me, overwhelmingly modern. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Tastes change and the change was evident at the Show.

To me, it appears that New York sets the tone for design and decoration and eventually, the rest of the world follows. If the Winter Show is any indication of the current trend then it stands solidly post 1900. Unfortunately, many folks are unaware of the changes in taste. This past week, I received several calls from clients who declared, "My parent has died, would you come and buy their furniture." "Their furniture" usually turns out to be reproduction 18th century pieces which have very little if any marketability at this time. It is a sad state of affairs but the reality of the times. My advice to one friend, who recently inherited her parents furniture, "If you can hold on until 2026 ( the 250th Birthday of America) there might be renewed interest in American furniture." Or maybe, we dealers can manufacture a new trend toward "Going Green" and being environmentally responsible by recycling and reusing our parents beloved furnishings.

Here are some highlights from the Winter Show, 2019:

Charlie in the booth of Olde Hope.

Andy Warhol by Jamie Wyeth, Adelson Galleries

The booth of miniatures by Elle Shushan

Arthur Liverant

Oversize balloon chairs in the booth of Kelly Kinzle

Toys and banks on display , Gemini Antiques

Wall mural by Rufus Porter in the booth of Stephen Score

Tiffany in the booth of Lillian Nassau

Cherry Blossoms by Sung Hee Cho, 2018 ( South Korea)

David Schorsch's booth at opening on Saturday.

 

Saturday
Jan192019

Ceramics Fair 2019 in New York City

Charlie and I braved the dire warnings of the weather forecast and took the New York bound train and Q subway to the Ceramics Fair at 321 E.73rd Street. The weather turned out to be perfect for travelling and we were glad we made the effort. The above image is the view from the third floor entrance into the show. There were 9 dealers total and the atmosphere of the show had a boutique quality.

Almost immediately upon entering the show, my eyes fell upon this marvel of a book, " The Paragon Tea Wares Pattern Book" circa 1900-1933. This hard bound book contains hand colored pages of beautifully detailed flowers which were transferred to tea ware. The books and pottery were manufactured in Staffordshire, Stoke on Trent. Available with this particular book are 2 cups and saucers that demonstrate the artwork. I learned, that at the time, most of the pattern books were burned when they outlived their usefulness.

Mocha wareand cats from the booth of Martyn Edgell

The Ceramics Fair is open tomorrow. Free admission. Worth the trip to see VERY fine ceramics.

 

Monday
Jan142019

Sotheby’s Important Americana Auction, January 17 & 20, 2019

This is the time of year when thoughts turn toward snow and antiques in New York City. A light atmospheric dusting of snow fell lazily as we headed out on Sunday morning into the city. Our focus that day was on Sotheby’s Auction Preview at 71st & York Streets. Previews are one of my favorite past times. Objects for sale are on display for potential buyers and curious onlookers to observe and touch.This is a hands on, take a good look and learn activity that is open to the public and FREE. Museums charge admissions. Auctions do not. If you want to learn more about antiques I highly recommend auction previews.

Sotheby’s and Christie’s previews kick off Americana Week in New York City. Throughout the week, there will be auctions, shows, and special events. There will be four shows in NYC. The Art, Design, and Antiques Show opens on January 18, 2019. The Winter Show at the Park Avenue Armory runs from January 18-27. The New York Antique Ceramics Fair runs from January 17-20, and The Outsider Art Fair from January 17-20.

Sold for $6,250.

Back to Sotheby’s. Because of limited time constraints, I chose Sotheby’s because there were particular items I wished to see due to their South Jersey and Philadelphia connections. A side chair Lot # 1613 from a suite of furniture made by Thomas Tuft (died 1788) was commissioned by Richard Edwards in 1775. Richard Edwards owned a home at 140 East Main Street in Moorestown, New Jersey and was a merchant in Lumberton, New Jersey. Where did Richard Edwards display this beautiful suite of furniture - in his home or in a show room in Lumberton? Edwards had 10 children. The furniture is in well kept condition. More research is required.

Lot #1435 passed

The Stratton-Carpenter-Wheeler Families Mahogany Chest on Chest Lot # 1435 attributed to John Folwell was second on my list of must sees. This chest has a lovely Revolutionary War story to it. I know so well the story of the marauding Hessians who came through Moorestown and camped overnight in the Smith-Cadbury Mansion, sending the females of the house into a frantic tizzy. In a similar  situation, British troops marched through Haddonfield to search the homes for arms. The frantic owner of this chest on chest, pulled it from the corner, and wrapped her 15 year old daughter in blankets, hiding her behind this very chest. A mother’s love gives Herculean strength in times of desperation.

Sold for $375,000.

And here is what I mean about getting up close to take a better look at a piece of history with an estimate of $500,000. - $800,000. This is Lot # 1434 The Scott Family Carved and Figured Mahogany Dressing Table. Cabinet work attributed to Thomas Affleck (1740-1795) and carving attributed to James Reynolds (1736-1794) made in Philadelphia circa 1770. This was a learning experience and I think we spent about 15 minutes hovering around this piece.

There were other fascinating items at the preview. Below is just a brief sampling.

Lot # 1454 sold for $13,750.

Lot # 1537 passed

Lot # 1483 passed

More weathervanes than you can 'shake a stick at!'

and a well known collector browsing the floor. You never know who you will see.

 

 

Saturday
Dec292018

Woolverton Inn, Stockton NewJersey

This year, both our married children decided to spend Christmas with their spouse’s families. Charlie and I would be alone over the holiday. So, I made a plan. A bucket list item was to see the re- enactment of Washington’s famous crossing of the Delaware on December 25. The crossing was to take place at 1:00 pm. Unfortunately, Washington’s celebrated voyage across the Delaware River in a replica of the original boat was cancelled due to river turbulence. Not to worry. We headed on to the Woolverton Inn, a beautiful well kept Bed and Breakfast just above Lambertville in the village of Stockton, New Jersey.

The drive North on Route 29 is always scenic and harkens back to the 18th century. As we pulled into the driveway of the Woolverton Inn, we were greeted by a docile family of sheep in a well groomed pen by the back patio. The earliest portion of the Inn was built in 1793 of locally quarried red shale.

John Reading ( 1657-1717) made the first land purchase here. Subsequent owners were Daniel Howell ( 1688-1733) and his sons Daniel (1708-1790) & John Howell ( 1721-1808) who continued on until Charles Wolverton (1698-1765) and John Wolverton (1735 -1773) became the owners. Of note, William Rittenhouse was buried in a cemetery plot a short distance from the house. This plot included Howell and Wolverton family members. Catherine Howell Rittenhouse (died 1778) and Peter Rittenhouse (died 1791) were also buried in the same plot, so it may be safe to assume that the Rittenhouse connection was through the Howell family.

 Circa 1793, John Prall, Jr. (1756-1793) a lieutenant  during the Revolutionary War who fought at the battles of Germantown and Monmouth, built the stone home that is the Woolverton Inn today. John Prall, Jr. was a merchant and owner of a linseed oil mill. A later owner embellished  the home during the mid 1800’s, which now features a front porch, balcony, and mansard roof.

Another former owner was St. John Terrell, famous for inventing the Lambertville Music Circus. His vision was to create a theatre in the round on a hillside using the natural incline to resemble an amphitheater. The first location in Lambertville lasted from 1949-1961.The theatre was moved and expanded to another space in Lambertville and lasted from 1962-1970. The performances were not unlike Cirq du Soleil today. St. John Terrell was also responsible for the initial recreation of Washington’s daring trip across the Delaware River on Christmas Eve. How serendipitous that I chose the Woolverton Inn for our Christmas get away.

The current owners Mary and Mario are gracious and hospitable. Our room was the Newell Library on the third floor with a view to the sheep pasture. Breakfast was a beautifully made to order frittata and Canadian bacon. There are other cottages on the property and the staff will deliver breakfast to your door. The Woolverton Inn is located at 6 Woolverton Road in Stockton, NJ. A lovely 10 minute walk will bring you to the Delaware River towpath and the quaint village of Stockton.

Monday
Jul232018

The Hunter House, Newport Rhode Island

Two years ago, I scheduled the Hunter House as a place to visit on our trip to Newport, Rhode Island. The tours of Hunter House are a separate package from the grand mansion tours and the price of a ticket is $30. Townsend & Goddard furniture are kept here and we decided to come back another time when we could take our time on the tour. A year later, I made plans to return to Newport. What better way to celebrate my 60th birthday than to devote a morning to the Hunter House? After a tasty breakfast at the Artful Lodger B&B, we drove to 54 Washington Street and found street parking. Be prepared, the Hunter House does not compare in any way to the grand Newport Mansions. However, in its time, it was home to a number of influential people.There were no visitors when we arrived around 10:40 that day, but, the rules are a bit quirky here and they might have made us wait until 11:00 ( there were at least 2 tour guides available) but after some persuasion, we proceeded.

Our guide David was very knowledgeable and we asked him to tell us EVERYTHING he knew. The original portion of the house was built in 1748 for Colonel Deputy Governor Jonathan Nichols, Jr. Nichols died in 1756 and Colonel Deputy Governor Joseph Wanton purchased the house. The house gained an addition and a second chimney along with a central hall during Wanton’s tenure. These changes produced a formal Georgian mansion. However, Wanton was a loyalist and a merchant during the Revolution and was imprisoned for treason. After the Revolution, Senator and Ambassador William Hunter purchased the house and for this man the house was named.

No photography is permitted in the Hunter House because some of the furnishings are privately owned and on loan. It is worth the trip to see these pieces. In the Northeast parlor, a John Goddard triple top gaming table rests beside one wall. It has four open talon claw and ball feet. Pilasters with carved Corinthian capitals frame the fireplace while tiny winged cherub faces smile down on visitors.

The Southeast sitting room has grain painted pine panels that resemble walnut. And here is where I found a friend. I had seen this painting by Gilbert Stuart at the Yale University Museum.

There is also a splendid Honduran mahogany desk with duck feet in this room. A painting by Cosmo Alexander is featured here. Alexander was one of Gilbert Stuart’s first teachers.

In the hallway outside the sitting room is a massive Townsend King of Prussia marble top side table with front web claw and ball feet in the front and spade feet in the rear. A cherry tall case clock by James Wady keeps time in the hallway. There are only six known Wady clocks in existence.

The keeping room has a very large fireplace with a 1740 Newport Harbor scene hanging above. Jacobean furniture has the stage here, along with Westerwald jars and Newport pewter by Melville and Belcher.

The dining room or reception room is decorated with pine panels painted as rose cedar. They are beautiful and I asked Charlie if we could do this to our home.

The mahogany staircase is not original to the home. The twisted balusters are a marvel of turning skill. The stairway leads to another room with panels of rose cedar paint. A discovery above the fireplace reveals a very early landscape painting of the settlement of Newport. A Goddard highboy resides here along with a Chippendale mirror with a perched phoenix.

The upper hallway shows a sample row of chairs from different periods to compare and contrast. Admiral de Ternay’s room is above the Northeast room and is almost identical to the room beneath with siblings of the smiling cherubs. It is painted a moss green color. A curious image of the Touro Tower hangs above the fireplace. The focal point of this room is a Townsend/Goddard Santa Domingo Mahogany highboy.

Across the hall is the Hepplewhite room. The central feature of this room is a beautiful Holmes Weaver Hepplewhite card table. A piece by John Townsend in this room displays exquisite bellflower decoration. It is amazing that Townsend could transition from Chippendale to Hepplewhite with such ease.

The final upstairs room displayed an excellent white trapunto bed cover. The stuffed work was extraordinary. Again, this room was identical to the room below in terms of layout.

Originally, the front door faced the harbor. Legend has it, that when the master was home, he put a pineapple outside on a post to notify neighbors of his safe return.