Museum and Collectors Help Spark ADA/Historic Deerfield Antiques Show

October 12th, 2013

Elliott and Grace Snyder of South Egremont, Massachusetts, showed this Moore County, North Carolina, stand in poplar with a red paint finish and a Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts label in a drawer. It’s 26¾" high and $9500. The 9¼" diameter round box, paint-decorated on a yellow ground, is from New England, probably Vermont, first quarter of the 19th century, and was $12,500.

This outstanding watercolor-on-silk memorial by Lucy Chillson, whose father died in 1806 in Wethersfield, Vermont, was 15 7/8" x 19 3/8" sight size and priced at $40,000 by Stephen and Carol Huber of Old Saybrook, Connecticut.

The mid-18th-century red-painted lift-top desk with original snipe hinges was $3600 from Colette Donovan of Merrimacport, Massachusetts. The early 19th-century weaver’s stool, also in red paint, looks very good with it and was $975. The stool sold early on Saturday.

This superlative painted game board was found in Orwell, Vermont, which is about 15 miles from Vermont dealers Jeff and Holly Noordsy’s home in Cornwall. The original game pieces and dice were saved with it, and a neat touch is the faux mother-of-pearl inlay decoration on the edges of the board. It was $11,500.

This early 19th-century carved ship’s sternboard was sold in the 1960’s by Eldred’s in East Dennis, Massachusetts. It passed through a couple of collectors’ hands and emerged at Northeast Auctions in August 2013. Paul DeCoste of West Newbury, Massachusetts, offered the 80" long artifact here for $24,000.

Arranged by A Bird in Hand Antiques, Florham Park, New Jersey, was a collection of painted grain shovels from 1835-75. Priced at $3450, it sold.


SAJE Americana, Short Hills, New Jersey, showed this assembled set of 12 (eleven side chairs and one armchair) Philadelphia Federal carved mahogany shield-back dining chairs for $17,500.

These coverlets were woven in Pennsylvania by John Kachel and made for sisters Hannah and Catherine Yocum in 1840 and 1841. They were offered as a pair by Wayne and Phyllis Hilt of Haddam Neck, Connecticut, for $2250.

Deerfield, Massachusetts

On Columbus Day weekend Interstate 91 teems with traffic. From the Connecticut and Massachusetts borders, up and into Vermont, vehicles roll northward on Friday. On Monday afternoon they head south and homeward.

In between those days, there were some who spurned the apple pie festivals in Vermont and the farm stands that offered pumpkins and shocks of brittle cornstalks and leaves in Massachusetts. Some came northward for a different type of trophy from the weekend.

Those were the ones who pulled off at the Deerfield exit on I-91, the ones who came to the ADA/Historic Deerfield Antiques Show, held on the grounds of Deerfield Academy on October 12 and 13, 2013.

They made a wise choice. There’s only one weekend a year when the sellers of fine top-level antiques gather in New England, in a small town in Massachusetts, and offer their wares to the public.

If you believe that quality, condition, and provenance are important, and you want to trust that what the seller tells you about your purchase is factual, then you have to come to Deerfield in October.

Every exhibitor at the Historic Deerfield Show is an ADA member, and that includes show manager Karen DiSaia, who, with husband, Ralph, sells rugs and carpets as Oriental Rugs, Ltd. and shows selections from their stock at a corner booth.

The ADA is the Antiques Dealers’ Association of America, which was founded in 1984. All members must adhere to a strict code of ethics and must guarantee their merchandise in writing as to age, origin, condition, and restoration. The prospective member must have at least four years’ experience in the business and be recommended by a committee of peers.

All of the material shown by exhibitors is vetted before the show doors open to the public. “We try to help our dealers not to be caught with a mistaken description or date on a tag. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes, but the vetting this year was extremely smooth and collegial,” Karen DiSaia said a few days after the show closed.

“Actually, the whole show went that way,” she added. “I kept waiting for the shoe to drop, and it never did. Everyone was packed up and out of the doors by eight-thirty on Sunday night, except us, of course,” she laughed. “We’re the last ones to go. We’ve found that if we control the move-in and move-out, it makes the whole show run so much smoother and better for everyone.”

When we were speaking about vetting, DiSaia said that no one is perfect and that even a perfectly honest dealer can make mistakes. “It’s easy to get excited when you’re buying, only to later discover that you’ve missed something you shouldn’t.

“It’s in the washing of the rugs that my mistakes come out,” she offered, “And we wash everything we buy.

“I may get excited when we are offered something and miss spotting a repair. But everything appears when we do the washing. If it can happen to us, I know it can happen to others. That’s why the ADA policy is in force. It isn’t to be vindictive or angry in tone; it’s to show an exhibitor something they missed usually. The tag has to tell the potential customer the truth about what they’re buying. Most vetting problems come from a dealer making a mistake in the age of something or not noting that some part has been replaced or repaired.

“Because we’re all ADA members, we have to self-enforce the ADA rules. That’s why a customer can feel safe when they buy from an ADA member.”

Show hours in 2013 were unchanged from the past, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturday, October 12, and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sunday, October 13. Collectors came to buy, and exhibitors came to sell. It appeared both groups were pleased with the results at this show.

“We had a spectacular crowd on Saturday,” DiSaia said, “and there were tons of people carrying out shopping bags.”

We shot photos on Friday, then returned on Saturday to finish up. We agree with DiSaia’s comment but should note that larger pieces did also sell.

There usually is at least one treasure buried among the offerings on the floor in Deerfield, and this time it appears there were several. Ohio dealer David Good had advertised an early Bible box, but it was in Connecticut dealer Arthur Liverant’s booth when the show opened, and it sold within minutes of opening.

Liverant put the William and Mary oak and yellow pine Bible box of Windsor, Connecticut,
origin on top of a two-drawer chest that was almost as old. The box was not priced at the opening; the buyer was a collector; and the two-drawer chest was still available a week later.

John Keith Russell of South Salem, New York, sold three pieces to a museum, purchases that included a lipstick-red box and a New Hampshire dry sink.

Some of the other treasures that found buyers included a trapunto-sewn whitework bed covering that Massachusetts exhibitor Samuel Herrup sold; a rare 17th-century beadwork picture offered by the Snyders of South Egremont, Massachusetts; and a Battle of Bunker Hill broadside published in Boston by British sympathizers just nine days after the engagement happened, offered by Hollis Brodrick of Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Exhibitors Daniel and Karen Olson of Newburgh, New York, reported that their sales came from a mix of customers. “We sold to some old friends, but there were also people who we’d met at the summer sales in New Hampshire,” Karen Olson said, “and that was very rewarding.”

“There were some dealer sales,” she said. They sold five pieces of furniture during the two-day show, “plus, we sold a lot of smalls, too,” Olson added.

Exhibitors who took the time to look over others’ booths before the opening were also well aware of the quality items they saw.

Exhibitor Jesse Goldberg of Artemis Gallery, North Salem, New York, was not reluctant to praise the show. “Wow,” he said, “I just had a walk-around to see what others are showing, and I’m just blown away with the quality I see here. There’s some amazing stuff on this floor.”

Some amazing stuff went out the door, too.

For more information, contact Karen DiSaia Management at (860) 908-0076 or the ADA at (203) 364-9913, or see the ADA Web site (

The oak and yellow pine Bible box is 25" long x 7¾" high and was made in the Windsor, Connecticut, area. It is a “great survivor” and a historical rarity. Its carving style puts it in the “foliated vine group” made by the Deacon John Moore shop in Windsor between 1680 and 1710.

It has an interesting price and ownership history. It emerged at Northeast Auctions in August of 2007 consigned by the W.R. Nelson Trust, Kansas City, Missouri. It was bought there by Ohio dealer David Good for $51,040. Connecticut’s Arthur Liverant was the underbidder. Good and Sam Forsythe showed it at the 2007 ADA show with a $64,000 price tag, but it remained unsold.

Skip forward to this year. David Good advertised it in the show catalog, where Arthur Liverant saw it and decided he was still interested. Liverant called Good and tentatively bought it with the right to examine it before concluding the deal. It was for sale in the Liverant booth when the show opened, sitting atop a Connecticut River valley blanket chest. A collector in the initial wave of people who had been waiting for the show to open bought it on the spot.

“It’s a wonderful survivor and in very original condition,” said Liverant. “The lid, moldings, and hinges are intact.”

Interestingly enough, another Bible box by John Moore I was offered in Sotheby’s January 19-21, 2007, sale as lot 356. That 10" high box brought $51,000.

The Good/Liverant box closely resembles the 1670-1710 box that was at the Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown, New York, in 2005. That box is shown as figure 47 on page 188 of American Furniture 2005 (Chipstone Foundation) in the authoritative article “Fashioning Furniture and Framing Community: Woodworkers and the Rise of a Connecticut River Valley Town” by Joshua Lane and Donald White. A table, chest, and Bible box carved by one of the John Moore family of cabinetmakers and carvers are shown in that article. The Good/Liverant box, another at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Farmers’ Museum example differ from the Sotheby’s example and another belonging to the Windsor Historical Society in that they do not have keyholes and/or lock escutcheons on the front panel.

Larger pieces of case furniture attributed to that group of carvers seldom appear at auction. When one does, it usually brings big prices. That’s what happened when the Drake family joined oak chest with drawer, also attributed to Deacon John Moore (1614-1677), was offered at a Keno Auctions sale on January 17, 2012, as lot 25. It had a $100,000/150,000 estimate and sold for $632,400.

Originally published in the January 2014 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2013 Maine Antique Digest

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