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Purchase Story

Philadelphia in April

Lita Solis-Cohen | March 13th, 2017

Put Philadelphia on your April calendar. A lot will be going on there.

The Philadelphia Antiques & Art Show, a benefit for Penn Medicine, will be held April 21-23 with a preview party on April 20. As it was last year, the show will be in a purpose-built tent at the Marine Parade Grounds of the Navy Yard, at South Broad Street and Intrepid Avenue.

A purpose-built tent will be constructed for the 2017 Philadelphia Antiques & Art Show. Diana Bittel photo.

The promoters, Diana Bittel and Karen DiSaia, have rounded up 59 dealers; seven of them were not there last year. Some of those seven, such as Joe Kindig, known for 18th-century American furniture, Kentucky rifles, and period needlework and paintings, and James and Nancy Glazer, who have sold some of the rarest Windsor chairs, Pennsylvania German redware, and fraktur, need no introduction—they have exhibited at the Philadelphia show in recent years. James Robinson, venerable New York City specialists in antique jewelry and English Georgian silver and a fixture at the Winter Antiques Show in New York City, has not exhibited at the Philadelphia show since its first three years in the 1960s.

Joan Boening is the third generation to be president of the gallery, founded by James Robinson, her great-uncle. Her son James Boening is the fourth generation to be in the business. James Robinson is taking the place of popular antique jewelry specialist Arthur Guy Kaplan, who has retired.

Four dealers are new to the show. W.T. Thistlethwaite, a young dealer from Glasgow, Kentucky, established Thistlethwaite Americana in 2013 after completing an apprenticeship with Alexandria, Virginia, dealer Sumpter Priddy III. He offers 18th- and 19th-century American furniture, paintings, and accessories. Christopher H. Jones of Alexandria, Virginia, will bring some southern furniture, along with maps, silver, and paintings. Southern furniture and silver are hot corners of the Americana market. BiBi Mohamed of Imperial Fine Books has been selling rare books and fine bindings since 1989 from her shop on Madison Avenue in New York City but has not exhibited at this show before. Nor has Jayne Thompson of Harrodsburg, Kentucky, a dealer in English antiques. Like Imperial Fine Books, Thompson is known to those who frequent the Newport Antiques Show in Rhode Island in July, also run by Diana Bittel.

Space for new faces was made possible by the retirement of Arthur Guy Kaplan and the Herrs of Lancaster. The Pricketts of Yardley, Pennsylvania, seem to have dropped all shows. Others who were there last year but will be missing this time are Mark and Marjorie Allen of New Hampshire, James Kochan of Maine, and art dealer Howard Godel of New York City.

Last year the show changed its name from the Philadelphia Antiques Show to the Philadelphia Antiques & Art Show. Seven of the exhibitors have art galleries, and many of the dealers in furniture also sell paintings. The Philadelphia show is known as the best in the country for Americana—American furniture, silver, folk art, toys, needlework, flags—but it also offers a wide range of paintings, drawings, and sculpture, as well as English furniture and silver, ceramics, Tiffany glass, lamps, Native American pottery, needlework, Oriental rugs, Chinese porcelain, garden ornaments, portrait miniatures, and all the best the dealers can muster.

Dealers generally do not like to publicize what they will bring—surprise is a tool for selling—and this show is a sale. The loan exhibition this year, What So Proudly We Hail, explores American flags and patriotic textiles from the 1790s to 1912.

General admission tickets to the show are $20 at the door; $15 early-bird tickets can be ordered online ( before March 15. Seniors, students, and Penn Medicine employee tickets are $18, and all tickets are good for the entire weekend.

Free daily lectures (with show admission) begin on Friday at 11:30 a.m., when interior designer Meg Braff speaks about “The Art of Reinterpreting What Is Old and Making It New Again,”revealing how she mixes vintage pieces with modern for fresh interiors. The talk will be followed by a book signing. At 2 p.m. on Friday, special agent Jake Archer of the FBI Art Crime Team, Philadelphia division, will reveal the FBI’s role in combating theft of art and cultural property. On Saturday at 2 p.m., R. Scott Stephenson, Ph.D., vice president of collections, exhibition, and programming at the Museum of the American Revolution, Philadelphia, which will open to the public on April 19, will talk about “Banners of Liberty: Flags of the American Revolution,” explaining the meaning and history of some Revolutionary War-era flags. On Sunday at 2 p.m., dealer Jeff Bridgman, who will be selling flags at the show, will give a walking tour through the loan exhibition. The Bull Dog Café, sponsored by Pook & Pook (the Pooks own bulldogs), will serve gourmet sandwiches, salads, snacks, drinks, wine, and beer.

There are also daily guided show tours by the Philadelphia Museum of Art Fairmount Park house guides from 10 to 11 a.m. each day before the show opens. Tickets for the tour are $25, which includes the $20 show admission.

The preview on Thursday is a festive party as well as a chance for the passionate collectors to get first dibs. Preview tickets are $600 for a 5 p.m. entry and $300 for a 6 p.m. entry, and young collectors under 40 can buy a $150 ticket for 6 p.m. and stay until the show closes at 9 p.m.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Valet parking is available for $10, and there is plenty of free self-parking.

At 8 p.m. on Friday, April 21, at the Antiques Dealers’ Association of America Award of Merit dinner, Patricia E. Kane, the Friends of American Art Curator of American Decorative Arts at Yale University Art Gallery, will receive the ADA’s flame finial, which acknowledges her skills in sharing her breadth of knowledge in the field of American decorative arts.

“Pat has done an extraordinary job of advancing the knowledge of Americana over the last four decades and has opened the eyes of many to the great arts of our colonies in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. Whether it is in the field of silver or furniture, her many discoveries, her understanding of the cultural influences on the aesthetics of the period, and her scholarship have been profound, but it is her unassuming manner and her generous teaching which we honor with our Award of Merit,” said Arthur Liverant, chair of the ADA dinner committee. Tickets are $95 each; send a check made out to ADA to PO Box 218, Northwood, NH 03261. For more information, contact Judith Livingston Loto at (603) 942-6498 or go to the ADA website (

There will be plenty to do and see in Philadelphia the weekend of the antiques show. The Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) has a glorious exhibition, American Watercolor in the Age of Homer and Sargent,with 170 works painted in the years 1860 through 1925, including 27 by Winslow Homer and a dozen by John Singer Sargent and paintings by other artists whose works will be for sale at the Philadelphia Antiques & Art Show. For example, art dealer William Vareika of Newport, Rhode Island, specializes in the works of Philadelphia-born William Trost Richards, who has four works in the PMA exhibition. Richards divided his time between Newport and Chester County, Pennsylvania, and enjoyed painting on excursions to Europe. Richard Rossello of Avery Galleries, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, will offer oil paintings by several of the artists included in the PMA show, including a John Marin watercolor.

Alexandra Kirtley has reinstalled the Waln furniture and moved and reinstalled the New England furniture collection with the new tea table purchased at Sotheby’s in January, and the galleries in the American Wing are worth another visit. The John Cadwalader furniture, paintings, and silver will take you back to the apogee of the rococo movement in Colonial Philadelphia.

The Museum of the American Revolution will open its doors on April 19, but unless you have advance timed tickets, it is unlikely you can see the new museum that weekend. The museum is planning four days of pageantry and patriotic fanfare for its opening. Tickets went on sale on February 22.

You can, however, go to the Constitution Center, Independence National Historical Park, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Barnes Foundation.

Freeman’s in Philadelphia and Pook & Pook in Downingtown both have auction previews from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily during the weekend.

Freeman’s will offer a collection of Native American pottery, baskets, and textiles from the collection of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and National Shrine of Saint Katharine Drexel in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. Determined to use her inheritance to better the educational opportunities of minorities, Katharine Drexel established a religious order, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People, in 1891 and built the Motherhouse in Bensalem. The first school, St. Catherine Indian School, was a boarding school in Santa Fe, New Mexico, that opened in 1894, and for the next 60 years Drexel and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament built 145 missions, 45 elementary schools, 12 high schools, and Xavier University of Louisiana, the only historically black Catholic college in the U.S. At her death in 1955, Drexel was laid to rest in the Motherhouse chapel. She was canonized as a saint in 2000. Lack of membership and financial pressures have caused the mission to sell the shrine in Bensalem and consign its collection of Native American arts to Freeman’s for sale. Saint Katharine’s remains will be moved to the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia, and the archives will be entrusted to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

In addition to the collection of pottery, beadwork, weavings, and baskets from the Drexel collection, Freeman’s will offer a collection of Tennessee quilts by members of the McLin family dating from 1830 to 1910. Among the American furniture is a small collection of furniture made in Norfolk, Virginia. Among the Pennsylvania furniture is a Lancaster County painted chest with tulips in the arched panels and the name M. Bucher and the date 1784. There is a portrait of Daniel Webster by Gilbert Stuart, a view of Philadelphia harbor by Thomas Birch, and a painting of A North-East View of the House of Mr. Emanual Lousada, Kingston,,painted in 1778 by Samuel Felsted, an inventor, musician, artist, friend of Benjamin Franklin, and a member of the American Philosophical Society. The sale will be held on Wednesday, April 26, beginning at 10 a.m. For more information, check Freeman’s website (

Samuel Felsted (Jamaican, 1743-1802), A North-East View of the House of Mr. Emanuel Lousada, Kingston,,signed and dated “S. Felsted, Pinxit. 1778, Count[r]yHouse, Kingston, Jamaica,” oil on canvas, 24" x 32" (sight size), estimated at $10,000/15,000. Inventor, musician, artist, and a member of the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia, Felsted composed the New World’s earliest known oratorio, Jonah, in 1775. Emanuel Baruch Lousada (1744-1797) was a Jamaican merchant and landowner. This painting is will be offered by Freeman’s on April 26. Photo courtesy Freeman’s.

Pook & Pook is having an “International and Americana” sale on the following weekend, Friday, April 28, and Saturday, April 29, with previews beginning on Thursday, April 20, to accommodate those driving into Philadelphia for the show. On Friday, April 28, beginning at 6 p.m., after cocktails and supper at 4 p.m., the auction house will sell European and Asian works, and on Saturday, April 29, beginning at 9 a.m., it will offer American furniture from New England and the Middle Atlantic States, including a painted chest from Lebanon County, fraktur, scherenschnitte, a horse and rider weathervane, a Ferdinand Brader farm scene, a Thomas Birch coastal scene, some American silver, painted tin, and early American glass. For more information, see Pook’s website (

For antiquers, Philadelphia is the place to be in late April.

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

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