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Purchase Story

Antiques for the Garden

Lita Solis-Cohen | May 4th, 2017

Antique Garden Furniture Fair, the Bronx, New York

Faux bois is in vogue. Furniture made of concrete that looks like tree stumps and branches was in demand at the 2017 New York Botanical Garden’s Antique Garden Furniture Fair. Antiques for the garden and the garden room sold briskly in the Bronx May 4-7.

This pair of faux bois armchairs, 1900s, 34" x 20" x 19", was $12,000 from Fleur, Mount Kisco, New York.

This was the 26th annual show benefiting the Fund for Horticulture at the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG), supporting the work of curators and gardeners who make the NYBG a showplace. The show opened with a benefit preview party and plant sale on Thursday, May 4, from 6 to 8 p.m. with 600 in attendance.

There was a silent auction of hard-to-find horticultural treasures that included a “Black Beauty” magnolia, an Akira Gold littleleaf linden, dogwoods, Japanese maples, and a Turkish bark hazelnut as well as hydrangeas, peonies, and hellebores.

Many of the attendees are regulars who have been coming to this fair for more than a quarter of a century, and many of them are garden designers who come to get first pick of the garden antiques from the 30 exhibitors. Selling is brisk at the preview.

Scarlet and Yellow Icicle Tower by Dale Chihuly in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory courtyard was part of the Chihuly exhibit at the garden and was a draw for the successful NYBG Antique Garden Furniture Fair.

Bronson Van Wyck, design chairman and renowned party planner, designed a hanging garden with benches underneath as a centerpiece of the show.

There are more antiques by the ton here than at any other fair in America. There are multiple pairs of large cast-iron urns and even larger cast stone troughs and planters of all shapes, sizes, and periods. There were buyers for huge staddle stones in the shape of giant mushrooms that once supported British granaries, raising them several feet off the ground to prevent rats from raiding their stores. One set of four and another of six sold. And one of the nicest was still available on Sunday. Stone benches in a variety of shapes were spoken for, including a rare semicircular one. There were enough cast-iron benches, tables, and chairs to furnish a porch at a summer hotel, and a cast-iron fountain bubbled continuously. Stacks of small 19th-century flowerpots of unglazed clay were on offer, and so were some highly glazed Victorian majolica cachepots on pedestals. There were iron trellises, gates, and a gazebo, and stone and lead figures from England, France, and Spain. There were even some American weathervanes plus one entire stand of Asian vessels, stone figures, and screens.

This late 19th-century English cast-iron urn on a pedestal with lion handles was $6500 from Jeffrey Henkel of Pennington, New Jersey, who sold nearly every piece he brought.

Francis J. Purcell of Philadelphia offered this J.L. Mott fountain, cast in New York in 1871, for $17,500. There are similar fountains in Savannah, Georgia, and Centreville, Maryland.

Three stands offered prints and watercolors of flowers, trees, birds, and fish that one could carry home. There was a glass cloche to cover a tender tomato plant in early May. Terrariums sold early in the show. There were very few baskets, but a large Shaker slat basket could be used for a harvest. A bronze raven by American sculptor Peter Woytuk was still available on Sunday, but a pair of 6' tall Japanese cranes sold early in the show. A dramatic pair of Medici cast stone lions could be had for $25,000, and large silhouettes of rusted sheet-iron animals—a deer, a buffalo, and a pig—were just $675 apiece. There was something for every taste and pocketbook, and dealers sold across the board.

When the fair opened to the general public on Friday, torrential rains kept all but the die-hards away. A good crowd came and bought on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Some discovered the show when they came to the NYBG to see the more than 20 Dale Chihuly glass installations set within the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory and surrounding gardens or to shop at the plant sale adjacent to the show tent.

There was plenty left to see at the fair on Sunday when these pictures were taken; some things with sold tags were yet to be delivered; and some were still available. Small focused shows of 30 dealers seem to do well these days.

This is one of a pair of very large white-painted and gilded wrought-iron plant stands that was $1100 from Brennan & Mouilleseaux Antiques, Northfield, Connecticut. The dealer has been showing at this fair all 26 years.

This wooden bench was made for a porch in Concord, Massachusetts, 100 years ago; it was $1800 from Bruce Emond. The figure of the Spanish saint sold.

Show manager Karen DiSaia said, “This is an exciting show to do. Dealers save material all year, and some of the five dealers new to the show said they did not realize that they had plenty of garden antiques to sell at a specialized show.”

The tonnage is not a problem. “We use a forklift when needed for installation and deliveries,” said DiSaia. “Calvin Ambrose and his crew that do the deliveries over the weekend make this show happen.”

For more information, see ( or call Karen DiSaia at (860) 908-0076.

Sandy Jacobs of Swampscott, Massachusetts, showed here for the first time and offered German iron furniture with bronze insets, 1840-60, designed by German architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel (1781-1841), priced at $3500. The bird was one of a pair of andirons. The Danish mid-century modern teak and walnut planters with metal liners were $750. In the corner is one of a pair of square wooden planters painted white with green interior, priced at $2950 the pair.

Barbara Israel Garden Antiques sold the pair of large Japanese cranes, Meiji period, circa 1900, 76½" tall. The American wrought-iron gate was $6500. The pair of cast-iron campana-shaped urns was $2100. The small terrier planter, circa 1940, was $350.

This pair of Arts and Crafts granite frogs, circa 1900, was $28,000 from Vincent Mulford of Hudson, New York.

Planters were both ancient and modern at this show. Harris Dean Interiors, Water Mill, New York, offered a monumental 20th-century Willy Guhl handkerchief planter for $1950.

Schorr & Dobinsky, Bridgehampton, New York, has been exhibiting at this show for 26 years. The early 19th-century Italian limestone wellhead was $4950.

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

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