The New Hampshire Antiques Show, Manchester, New Hampshire
The annual antiques show of the New Hampshire Antiques Dealers Association (NHADA)—always one of the most anticipated events of the year—was back live after a year’s hiatus forced by the COVID-19 pandemic. The August 12-14 New Hampshire Antiques Show at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Manchester, New Hampshire, was the association’s 64th and saw 56 dealers set up, most with fresh goods they had saved for a year—some for two years.
With the pandemic not over, the association required dealers and attendees to wear masks, even though the state of New Hampshire had no statewide mask mandate in August.
Thomas Thompson, president of NHADA, said, “There were comments in favor of masks, and those not in favor of masks. Those in favor far outweighed those who didn’t want to,” he said.
When the show opened on Thursday, August 12, at 10 a.m., show manager Michael Sczerzen stood at the door and calmly but firmly told anyone coming in without a mask that they were required. If a patron didn’t have one, they were give one gratis at the door.
“From the standpoint of safety, we felt that masks were necessary for all exhibitors and attendees, and I am happy to say that everyone complied. It was the smart move for a very crowded indoor event since the doors were closed when the air conditioning was in use,” said dealer Melissa Alden.
The parade banner with eagle and shield, circa 1875, is brass, tin, and iron in polychrome paint. The eagle with well-defined brass wings is holding an American shield that is fitted on the back for holding flags. Measuring 22" high x 29½" wide, it was $6700 from Jeffrey Tillou Antiques, Litchfield, Connecticut. Jeffrey Tillou said, “I think across the board people were pleased with their sales. The gate was down from previous years—which is to be expected—but the people who came bought, and they bought on different levels, not just the high-end stuff.... My sales were good. I sold mostly folk art—about seven weathervanes, lots of decorative art, some smalls, and some paintings. Furniture was soft for me.”
The New England figured maple flat-top chest-on-chest, 1775-1800, with original brasses was tagged $12,500 by Nathan Liverant and Son, LLC, Colchester, Connecticut. The sheet-iron Gabriel weathervane on top dates from 1880-1910 and has a 20th-century painted surface. It was priced at $3200.
There were some changes to the roster. Several dealers declined to do the show, citing the pandemic or health, and Richard “Smitty” Axtell had passed away earlier in the year. According to one former board member, dealers are allowed to take a one-year absence for good reason and not lose their coveted booth spot. “When we sent out the contracts, we said, ‘If you’re uncomfortable doing the show we’ll hold your booth until next year,’” said Thompson.
The show is famous for its long line of people—some who start waiting in the wee hours of the morning—waiting to get in. Because of COVID-19, the hotel required people to queue outside, instead of in the lobby.
With those minor changes, the show looked remarkably similar to years past: a blitz of excitement and plenty of sales.
The gate was down from previous years, according to Thompson, “but that was to be expected.” One dealer said, “There were a lot of old-time heavy-hitter collectors who were not there. Maybe they were nervous about COVID, which is totally understandable. They didn’t come. They didn’t fly in.”
David Schorsch of David A. Schorsch - Eileen M. Smiles American Antiques wrote in an email, “We thought the show looked great and retained its unique flavor despite the obstacles and uncertainties caused by COVID. There were some collectors who we missed seeing, but understandably, we are all getting our bearings with respect to plane travel and crowded events. Hopefully as time goes by this will improve. The excitement and anticipation generated by this show remains unique.
“It was terrific having the opportunity to see our friends and colleagues in our community again and to buy and sell antiques in person. It was fun to try to identify people wearing masks.”
The portrait is by William Matthew Prior (1806-1873) according to Steve Sherhag of Early American Antiques, Canfield, Ohio, who tagged it $26,500. The unusual New England sconces are pictured in the March 1960 The Magazine Antiques in Barbara Snow’s article “Living with Antiques: The Cincinnati home of Mr. and Mrs. Richard W. Barrett.” Called “sunflower sconces” in The Magazine Antiques, the pair was $4950.
Nancy and Gene Pratt of Victor, New York, offered a pair of circa 1900 working eider decoys, probably from coastal Maine. Old documentation suggests that they originated around Merrymeeting Bay, near Bath, Maine. They were tagged $18,500.
Dennis Berard of Dennis & Dad Antiques said, “You can’t do a story without mentioning the fact that the powers that be had a tremendous amount of work to do with regard to the show. They did a tremendous job because there were glitches that had to be overcome. Despite all of that, the crowd at opening was really good. Was it the best ever? No. But it was still really good. I think the results were at least as good as—or even better than—normal.”
Melissa Alden said, “Behind the scenes much credit should be given to Bev Longacre, Josh Steenburgh, Sharon Platt, Tommy Thompson, and many others—all add to the end result. This was a very difficult year for our volunteer board and committees. There were many decisions and variables, but hard work prevailed right up to the last minute.”
Barbara Johnson of Pewter & Wood Antiques echoed those comments. “I think that the show committee did an outstanding job of working through all of the virus complications.”
Adam Irish of Old as Adam said, “Sales were stronger than ever in the first hours of the show but then faltered as the day went on (typically business is steady all day on Thursday). The following days felt normal, with sales here and there. All the dealers I spoke with agreed that business and attendance seemed down 30% to 40%, which I’m certain was due to pandemic concerns and the new variant.
“After the initial rush subsided, I began posting pictures of my booth to Instagram, and after sharing a dozen pieces or so, I sold in dollar value nearly as much online as I did in person. The Instagram sales included the two highest-priced items sold from my booth: the Odd Fellows snake staff and the folk art photography pyramid, which sold late Saturday night well after the show was packed up.
“While I’m grateful for the online sales, nothing is like selling at the New Hampshire Antiques Show in person, and it was great to be back. I hope my posts will lure new customers in next year now that they’ve seen what it’s all about.”
Jeff Bridgman said, “This was my first show in New Hampshire in almost twenty years…. I knew that I would buy a lot at all of the events that I could get to, but I wasn’t sure how I would make out with regard to selling. I indeed bought very well. I came home with nine or ten pieces of painted furniture, four game boards, two barber poles, a sign, some patriotic material, a folk painting, carvings, a hooked rug, and other stuff.
“The first two and a half days of the show were, however, very lackluster in terms of selling. The show was beautiful, well attended, and sales were brisk for most people on the floor. On the last day I pulled it out when a good client showed up and bought the second-most expensive object that I brought with me, the best piece of suffrage memorabilia that I brought, and two flags. So in the end I had a tremendous show, out of the blue and at the last hour.
“At that point, already having bought a ton on the floor, I went to the booth of my favorite dealer and bought the best piece of furniture on the floor. That was a great ending for me. I left very much fulfilled.”
For more information, check the NHADA website (www.nhada.org).
The late 19th-century paint sign doubling as a paintbrush display, advertising Wadsworth, Martinez, and Longman of Brooklyn, was $1850; the late 19th-century “Welcome” sign, painted in red, white, and blue on canvas, approximately 14" tall x 7'10" long, was $1950; the folky hooked rug of a house over the motto “Home Sweet Home,” early 20th century, 20½" x 36", was $950; the mid-19th-century copper prancing horse weathervane attributed to William Tuckerman of Boston, with a replaced tail, was $8900; and the rare circa 1860 pair of stoneware jugs stamped “Fresh Tomatoes,” each decorated with cobalt-blue tomatoes, was $2950. All were offered by Christopher and Bernadette Evans of Waynesboro, Virginia. Christopher Evans said, “From walking the floor before opening, I can say this year was probably the best-looking show that we’ve ever had the pleasure of participating in. That’s even more impressive when you consider that almost ever dealer had items at many price points. The show had buyable antiques for collectors and dealers from $50 to $50,000.”
The profusely decorated chest is attributed to Joseph Romuald Bernier (1873-1952), a French-Canadian lumberjack from Biddeford, Maine. The summer 2010 issue of The Magazine Antiques notes that Bernier was crippled by a falling tree around 1900 and took to carving to support himself. He’s mostly known for his bird carvings. “It’s the only piece of furniture I’ve seen,” said Thomas Jewett of Jewett-Berdan Antiques, Newcastle, Maine. The dealers asked $48,000 for it. The large paint-decorated dome-top box on top was $14,500. An example by the same hand is published in American Painted Furniture 1660-1800 by Dean A. Fales, Jr. and attributed to New York state, but Jewett thinks the origin is western Massachusetts. Jewett said, “The show ended up very good for us, and we are grateful. While the crowd was down some due to the pandemic, those who came were serious buyers.”
Liam Evans, the son of exhibitors Christopher and Bernadette Evans of Waynesboro, Virginia, was working for NHADA during the show. Christopher Evans said, “He was given the job of helping to inform people that they could not wait in the lobby before the show opened and had to wait outside. A thankless job, but by all reports he handled the job with the utmost courtesy and maturity. He kept himself busy at the front desk greeting customers and keeping common areas like the magazine tables presentable.”
Kelly Kinzle of New Oxford, Pennsylvania, offered a New Jersey tall clock, circa 1815, cherry and mahogany, with an eight-day movement and inlay that includes a vine and berry design, a spread-wing eagle, and a swan. The clock measures 91" x 17½" x 9½" and was tagged $35,000.
The sheet-metal weathervane in the form of a cannon, in original paint, circa 1900, was $1350 from Ken and Robin Pike of Nashua, New Hampshire.
From left: red and white woolen bathing suit, $1595; blue woolen bathing suit, $1695; and red woolen bathing suit, $1595; all date from the 1920s and 1930s, and all have been professionally framed and conserved. They were offered by Pewter & Wood Antiques, Enfield, New Hampshire, and Cave Creek, Arizona. Barbara Johnson said, “The NHADA show continues to be a high-quality, beautiful show.... Sales were strong, and I sold items all three days, including furniture, paintings, folk art, and decorative smalls. I met new customers as well as repeat customers.”
Double-sided painted trade sign advertising footwear, signed by New York City sign painter J.C. Collins of 2038 Fulton Street, $4500 from Thomas R. Longacre Antiques, Marlborough, New Hampshire.
The primitive pull toy was $975 from Michael Whittemore Antiques and Folk Art, Punta Gorda, Florida.
The pieced linsey-woolsey bed cover or quilt in an unusual color combination, possibly from Rhode Island, circa 1800, was $11,500 from John Chaski Antiques, Camden, Delaware.
The anti-alcohol placard is made of painted boards and was likely created for an itinerant temperance speaker; the sign is easily disassembled. The sign depicts a wine glass with a serpent wrapped around it warning of the consequences of imbibing: redness of eyes, wounds, babblings, contentions, sorrow, and woe. Standing over 7' high, the folk-art sign from the third quarter of the 19th century was $28,000 from Adam Irish of Old as Adam, Providence, Rhode Island. According to Irish, the Portsmouth (New Hampshire) Historical Society has a similar but fragmentary example that has origins in Sandwich, New Hampshire; it appeared in the 2019 exhibition New Hampshire Folk Art: By the People, For the People.
The heart and hand pen wipe is circa 1880, “possibly earlier,” according to Sheridan Loyd American Antiques, St. Joseph, Missouri. It’s made of painted hide, fabric, and paint. The pen wipe is 8" x 14" and is housed in a 12¼" x 18½" black ribbed frame. It was tagged $3495.
Cottage + Camp, Millerton, New York, asked $1900 for the Bergen County, New Jersey, coverlet initialed “L.H.” and dated “Nov 18 / 1831.” The animal and floral motifs are similar to those on a small coverlet in the Metropolitan Museum of Art that is cataloged as “Probably David Daniel Haring (1800-1889).” Francis Nestor stated, “As first-year exhibitors we were bowled over by the show. There were so many eager buyers and so much interest. We sold all three days and had conversations with so many interesting folks from all over the country. Sales seemed to be mainly to people looking to furnish their places with cool and historic stuff—lots of paintings, an exceptional carved chest of drawers, blanket chests, a big hooked rug, and more.”
The oval gable end louver came from a house in Long Island. Dated to 1820, it was $4400 from Bob Withington of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. “The show was fantastic. The best stuff all sold for me,” Withington said. “I made over fifty sales across the board over the three days. The show looked fresh and inviting, and I got a sense that everyone was glad to be back and looking at ‘stuff’ again.”
Martha Boynton of Groton, Massachusetts, asked $3500 for the unusual burl bowl, tagged as “probably Indian.”
The large windmill whirligig was $1200 from Jef and Terri Steingrebe of New London, New Hampshire.
The late 18th-/early 19th-century ash burl bowl with handles is deep, measuring 21½" x 19" x 7½", and was tagged $8500 by John H. Rogers Antiques, LLC, New London, New Hampshire. The pine and birch tavern table it’s sitting on has a one-board top and reeded legs and had a $799 price tag.
Thomas Thompson of Pembroke, New Hampshire, offered 18 heart-shaped golf markers for $1800. There was no number 13.
This is what the NHADA show is all about. The blue-painted chest sold by Village Braider is getting loaded up and delivered to its buyer.
Bruce Emond of Village Braider, Plymouth, Massachusetts, asked $1800 for the mid-19th-century two-part Canadian cupboard.
Originally published in the October 2021 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2021 Maine Antique Digest