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View of Hyland-Granby’s Ellis show booth.

An upbeat air filled Boston’s Park Plaza Castle on October 30 when more than a thousand collectors gathered for the gala preview of the 42nd Annual Ellis Memorial Antiques Show held through November 4. The venue’s crowded aisles spilled attendees into booths, where the action picked up with prompt sales. In addition, the show’s hospital and settlement house beneficiaries were supported by the strong attendance. Besides the champagne and oyster bar, attendees were offered British ceramics dealer Jonathan Horne’s admonition in a show catalogue ad to “be positive and have faith in our trade” for the “appreciation of art is the cornerstone of civilization.”

At William Blair’s booth, this spectacular George II Chippendale mahogany commode sold in the six-figures on opening night.

The buzz around exhibitor Stephen Score’s booth was centered on a luminescent pastel of morning glories by Laura Coombs Hills (1859–1952) that “could have sold many times over.” Boston collectors are well familiar with another Hills floral pastel titled Larkspur, Peonies and Canterbury Bells, a popular work at the Museum of Fine Arts that is reproduced on plenty of gift shop items. “This pastel differs from her other work because it depicts live flowers outdoors instead of cut flowers in a studio setting,” waxes Score. “It is delicate and abstract—a masterpiece.” After living with the morning glories picture for a few years, Score admits that it was a little bit heart wrenching to sell.

This English or American pier looking glass, ca. 1790, at exhibitor Kyser-Hollingsworth, was priced at $75,000 and commanded lots of attention. It is shown flanked by a pair of Severin Roesen still lifes.

A $12,000 pair of Chinese export flattened baluster mandarin vases, sporting foo dog finials in perfect condition, sold to a new client of Paul Vandekar's, of Earle D. Vandekar of Knightsbridge.

Understandably, items of patriotic sentiment found ready buyers including a wood and brass child’s drum painted with American flags at Hyland Granby and a fine Michele Felice Corné ship portrait, with flags waving, priced at $50,000 at William Vareika. American fine and decorative arts in general sold well on opening night. Delaney Antique Clocks sold a Roxbury tall case clock, and at Jeffrey Tillou’s booth, a very rare New York glass witch’s ball was sold, appropriately, on Halloween eve.

A circa 1860 Anglo-Indian teakwood screen at Gary Young’s booth featured animals and palm trees carved right into the panels. Priced at $35,000, this piece was made for British colonials and remains in excellent condition.

Spirited buying in William Blair’s booth included all kinds of wine paraphernalia. American, English, and Continental corkscrews, coasters, coolers, funnels, claret jugs, and more went to collectors who appreciate the practical use of these objects and their “conversation piece” value. Priced between $300–$15,000, the corkscrews were also attractive to gift buyers. Important English furniture also sold well at Blair’s such as a George II commode (shown on opposite page). At Georgian Manor’s booth a collector took home a colorfully painted China trade camphorwood trunk covered with leather and trimmed in brass.

“There is an appreciation of good art in Boston,” notes Jeff Savage of Jeffrey Tillou Antiques. “We always do well here.” Other exhibitors concurred that the show draws “quality collectors from all over” who demonstrate “immense interest.” This year’s Ellis Show gave the antiques season an energetic jump start.

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Connecticut dealer Jeffrey Tillou offered this rare Massachusetts serving table with serpentine top and single drop-leaf for $16,000. “We sold some furniture,” notes Tillou, “and decorative arts sold very well—all of our weathervanes found buyers.”

A much-admired Laura Coombs Hills pastel sold on opening night at Stephen Score’s booth. It is shown above a late-18th-century Italian carved and painted marble-top console table.

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