The Black River Antique Show, held October 2 and 3, opened on Friday at 1 p.m. under a large tent pitched on the Paul P. Pullinen Field adjacent to the Ludlow Elementary School in Ludlow, Vermont. It was one of two shows that constituted Vermont Antiques Week in 2020, normally a run of five shows opening in four days. The other event was Antiques at Fletcher Field (see p. 65). Both shows were produced by Steve Sherhag.
Black River was the smaller show of the two, with 19 dealers. The fact that the show opened at all is a minor miracle and testimony to Sherhag’s overcoming several obstacles.
The first was getting dealers to exhibit. Sherhag reported that in mid-September, several dealers canceled on him because of the COVID pandemic. He had further cancellations the day before the show—during setup.
The easiest access to the field was a small paved road leading to the ball field, but a wide padlocked gate blocked it. According to Sherhag, the principal of the elementary school refused to unlock it, meaning there was no access to the field by vehicles, making it an uphill walk from the parking lot.
People in line to get into the show practiced social distancing, and Sherhag had instituted one-way traffic through the tent.
On Thursday—two days before the show opened—Sherhag and several others found another way to the field. “Because of the locked gate, I had to cut a road in on Thursday,” Sherhag said. “It took a chainsaw and three people cutting and moving. A local member of the parks and recreation department took a tractor and scraped the new road down so we would have a physical road to drive on. That was my Thursday afternoon, when I should have been attending to other things.”
It was an innovative solution, but then rains came. Most dealers got in, but Sherhag said one dealer got his truck stuck in the mud; when he finally got it out, he left the show. Another dealer, seeing that, also didn’t unload.
“Overall I thought it went pretty well, considering the circumstances and everything I was fighting against. Actually a couple of the dealers said they had their best antiques show in fifteen years,” Sherhag said. He pegged attendance at about 300.
Sherhag is planning changes for next year, including relocating the tent to the parking lot and using the Ludlow Community Center, where the show is normally held, for some inside spaces; it can still be used at half capacity at this point in the pandemic.
For more information, contact Sherhag at [email protected].
The small carousel horse in old paint came out of Pittsford, Vermont, and dealer John Smart of Mendon, Vermont, asked $2200 for it. It dates to 1840-50, he said, and is all pegged construction. When asked about sales, Smart said, “It wasn’t bad—for the times.”
Robert Conrad of Yeagertown, Pennsylvania, asked $850 for the circa 1840 paint-decorated Pennsylvania blanket box with dovetailed bracket feet and bold molding. It’s 17" x 32" x 14". The mid-century cast brass whippets with verdigris surface came from the Pittsburgh area. They are not marked and were priced at $1800, and they sold. “I did OK. I’m not disappointed.... I didn’t sell a lot, but what I sold was more high-end. I didn’t sell quantity, I sold quality,” Conrad said. “Considering the conditions of everything, the crowd was not bad—the weather was a bit of a factor on Friday with rain.”
Steve Sherhag manned the booth for Buy Old Stuff, Portersville, Pennsylvania. The toy Coca-Cola truck was $525, and the Arcade cab was $675.
John Smart asked $3500 for the drop-leaf 18th-century Chippendale table with ball-and-claw feet that he attributed to Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
Matt King of Marshfield, Massachusetts, asked $50 each for the Dr. McMunn’s Elixir of Opium glass bottles that predate the Civil War.
The industrial chocolate mold, probably German, dates to the 1920s and was $950 from Matt King.
The winnower with added legs was $425 from Sandra Hutchins of Sandmark Antiques, Bethel, Vermont. The mid-19th-century broom was $55. “It wasn’t good,” said Hutchins when asked how sales were. “I don’t know why, but we didn’t sell much.”
The “Wear Your Face Shield” sign seems topical in the middle of a global pandemic. George Johnson of Montpelier, Vermont, asked $120 for it. Johnson said he sold close to 40 objects at the show. “We had a lot of sales,” he said, ranging from $450 down to $20. “We had the best show we’ve ever had at that venue.... We’ve been there for fifteen years.... The dealers bought from each other pre-show, and the public seemed interested in the stuff and were anxious to buy.”
The large gray enamel graniteware bread riser, 11" high and 21" from handle to handle, was $155 from Antiques at Wolfe Creek.
The early 1800s double sausage stuffer of tiger maple originated in Pennsylvania and was $450 from Marcia and Gordon McDugle of Antiques at Wolfe Creek, Sugar Grove, Illinois.
The pegged and mortised skarn, 1850-70, was $375 from George Johnson.
The tent was set up on the Paul P. Pullinen Field. Opening day was cold, rainy, and raw. Access to the tent for dealers was made harder because a local school official refused to unlock a gate leading to the field. Sherhag (right) had to find an alternate—and much more difficult—route for dealers to drive in.
The circa 1785 George III rolled-paper tea caddy, inscribed “Sarah Eliza Owen—worked by her Grandmama,” ex-June and Tony Stone Fine Antique Boxes, was $975 from Robin Stephens of Richmond, Massachusetts.
Hand-painted display of flowers in a French yellow toleware lantern, $395 from Martha Perkins of Ashby, Massachusetts.
The tramp art box with marbled paper decoration was $450 from Christopher Nolan of Albany, New York.
Blue Dog Antiques, Stafford Springs, Connecticut, offered a case full of belsnickels priced from $796 to $1200 for the 10" high yellow papier-mâché German example that dates to the 1880s. “It was fun,” said Judi Stellmach. “I sold a little, and I bought a lot.”
Odd Fellows ceremonial quiver, $675 from Joe Urbanick.
The pair of mid-1700s side chairs, New England, was $950 from Joe Urbanick of Painesville, Ohio.
Originally published in the December 2020 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2020 Maine Antique Digest