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Purchase Story

The York Show: Signs the Market is Getting Stronger

Lita Solis-Cohen | February 5th, 2017

The Original Semi-Annual York Antiques Show, York, Pennsylvania

Ninety-eight dealers exhibited at the 168th Original Semi-Annual York Antiques Show and Sale at Memorial Hall East on the York Fairgrounds in York, Pennsylvania, February 3-5. On Friday, a large crowd from all parts of the country came to shop. Show manager Melvin Arion said the attendance was up over last year despite the fact that it was Super Bowl weekend. One ticket was good for all three days.

There was a lot to see, mostly American furniture, much of it country, but there was a selection of mahogany, walnut, maple, and cherry chests, chairs, and cupboards. Among a variety of paintings were several good folk portraits and a Grandma Moses painting of the town of Poestenkill, New York. There were lots of signs, more quilts than in recent shows, some ceramics (mostly English), and American redware and stoneware. There was colorful glass, a few toys and rag dolls, some jewelry, the usual stone fruit, iron utensils, and woodenware, lots of frames, and, for the first time in a long time, some good scrimshaw, which was brought by John Sideli, who now lives in Wiscasset, Maine, and had never done a York show before.

Bill Kelly of Limington, Maine, asked $695 for this brown- and yellow-painted Portsmouth dressing table, circa 1825. “I wish it were blue like the one in the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum pictured in Brock Jobe’s book on Portsmouth furniture. Then it would be have been worth $35,000 or more a few years ago, and I would have gotten $1800 to $2000 for this brown one back then. This is 2017; buy it cheap and sell it cheap,” said Kelly. The table sold along with a cherry corner cupboard, a gray-painted jelly cupboard, a sawbuck table, and lots of smalls. “Not big-ticket items but volume. Reasonably priced furniture is what is selling here,” he said.

York should be the place to sell a pretzel maker’s trade sign; a lot of pretzels are made in York and Lancaster Counties. This one with the name of pretzel maker Richard Struller, 1860-1900, was found in Pennsylvania. Thomas Longacre of Marlborough, New Hampshire, asked $7500 for it, and it was still available at the end of the show.

Sideli was one of ten dealers new to this show. “Illness, some serious, was the reason for dealers not returning,” said Arion. His dealer list read like a combination of dealers who show in New Hampshire in summer, in Delaware in the fall, and at the Brandywine Museum of Art show on Memorial Day weekend, together with a few who only show at York. Four times a year there is a gathering of dealers in Americana at the York Fairgrounds, the crossroads of the antiques world in the East, easily accessible from Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Virginia, New York, and New Jersey, and some buyers fly in from the South, the Midwest, and Texas.

The biggest number came on Friday, but many returned on Saturday. Sunday early afternoon was busy, and then most people headed home for the Super Bowl, which began at 6:30 p.m., though a few stalwarts were still making deals at 4 p.m. when Carlisle, Pennsylvania, dealer James Price sold two more pieces of furniture. “Buy it right and sell it right is the way to go,” said Price, who sold seven pieces of furniture in all.

Others sold well-priced furniture, too. Tom Brown of McMurray, Pennsylvania, sold to the walls beginning at setup and continuing every day. “Quality at a price is the way to go,” he said. He sold a dry sink, a cupboard, an apothecary, three rifles, and paintings. Early in the show Tucker Frey of Woodbury, Connecticut, sold a slant-lid desk, something that has not been easy to do in recent years. “It was figured maple,” he said. Steven Still of Manheim, Pennsylvania, sold a long Windsor bench pictured in Charles Santore’s book on Windsors. A few other Windsors left the show with new owners.

Jamie Price of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, asked $7750 for this walnut Chester County tall chest of drawers with three over two over four drawers, original brasses, and an old finish. He had six tall-case clocks on his stand and sold one. The circa 1770 John Miller, Germantown, clock (far left) has an eight-day movement with a date aperture, a seconds hand, and a brass dial in a walnut case with a scroll pediment. It was $15,000. Price sold a chest-on-frame, a four-drawer chest, a clothes press, two corner cupboards, a tilt-top table, and a painted settee.

Philip Bradley of Downingtown, Pennsylvania, offered the Pennsylvania walnut ball-and-claw-foot chest-on-frame, circa 1780, with original brasses, 67½" high x 41" case width x 23½" deep, for $12,800. The Eastern Shore yellow pine corner cupboard, circa 1780, with a rare use of butterfly hinges, probably originally painted blue with contrasting white panel borders, 75¾" high x 31" deep, was $8000. The Reading, Pennsylvania, tall-case clock in a cherry case with elaborate inlay and an eight-day movement by Samuel Breneisen, circa 1800, 106" high, one of a kind and pictured in a 1970 book, was $34,000. The Mid-Atlantic mahogany easy chair, circa 1780, retaining its original linen foundation, designed to take a slipcover, was once a commode chair. The panel with the hole for the pot slipped in from the back of the seat frame. The linen maker’s stamp is on the back left. An amazing upholstery document, it was $8500. The small three-drawer chest sold; the child’s fancy chair came from the Lemon Hill sale at Freeman’s and had been given to the Colonial Dames of America by Lydia Fisher Warner. It was $475. Bradley said he also sold several fraktur and a joint stool and had strong interest in other furniture.

This early Murphy bed was the talk of the show. It came with the mattress and bolsters, and it was $7500 from Perkins & Menson, Ashby, Massachusetts.

Half the furniture sold was painted. The blue-painted cupboard that dealer Colette Donovan of Merrimacport, Massachusetts, sold was Shaker. The Meekins of Preston, Maryland, sold painted furniture, firkins, and bowls. Bill Kelly of Limington, Maine, sold painted furniture and had little to take home. Kelly Kinzle of New Oxford, Pennsylvania, sold a painted dower chest, but Greg Kramer of Robesonia, Pennsylvania, said smalls sold but his furniture did not.

There was a variety of textiles for sale—rugs, table covers, and quilts, but little needlework. Mary Koval, a quilt dealer and fabric designer at Mary’s Quilt Ship in Bedford, Pennsylvania, bought ten quilts, including the Maryland album quilt from Newsom-Berdan that was a show-stopper. Other red, green, and yellow Pennsylvania quilts sold as well.

Among the variety of textiles at the show were several red, green, and yellow quilts. Hannah Humes of Ohio asked $1695 for this red, green, and yellow quilt. It sold. The Adirondack bench was found in Ohio and was priced at $1650.

Frank Shaia of Shaia Oriental Rugs, Williamsburg, Virginia, showed a very large number of rugs of all sizes in a triple booth.

By Sunday, dealers in ceramics said they had made some sales. James Lawrence of Little Compton, Rhode Island, said he sold creamware “surprisingly well.” John Rogers of New London, New Hampshire, sold not only butter prints and butter paddles but also a Dutch cupboard. “Being in this business is like playing roulette. You’re allowed to win every now and again just to keep you at the table. So often you lose, but this show was a winner for me,” he said.

Half a dozen booths had some good English ceramics, and there were a few pieces of Dutch Delft. James Lawrence of Little Compton, Rhode Island, asked $625 for the Prattware pitcher, $745 for the Prattware teapot, and $525 for the pearlware creamer painted with a peafowl. He asked $600 for the small teapot, far right, also painted with a peafowl. The brown Whieldon-type plate (rear, far right) was $375. The larger Dutch Delft plate was $625, and the other was $600; the shell-edge pearlware plates decorated with a house design were $895 for the green-edge one and $645 for the blue-edge one. The Prattware teapot sold as did a half a dozen more pieces.

Sarah Yenkevich of Salt Box Antiques, Sugar Loaf, Pennsylvania, said a young couple who had recently bought an 18th-century house wanted to furnish their hearth. “They asked if they could take half a dozen pieces of iron home to see if they fit and would come back on Sunday. I let them take what they liked, and they picked out six things and came back the next day with just one of them, and then bought some more,” she said. Stories like this demonstrates there is some new interest. There was a definite uptick in sales, not a vigorous market for everyone, but it seems as though the market is getting stronger.

The pictures and captions show just a fraction of some of the good things for sale at York.

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Samuel Herrup of Sheffield, Massachusetts, asked $16,500 for the New England horse and sulky weathervane, New England, circa 1860, attributed to A.L. Jewell & Co, Waltham, Massachusetts, with traces of original yellow sizing and gilt and old red paint. The landscape above it, oil on pine wallboard, circa 1840, found in the Hudson River valley, possibly an overmantel, 17" x 32", was $3200.

James Grievo of Stockton, New Jersey, asked $22,000 for this pair of folk portraits by William Bonnell (1804-1865), signed on the back and dated. The brown-painted New England blanket chest under them was $1250; the black drummer pull toy, $1850.

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

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