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Home | Articles | As the Winter Show Goes So Goes the Market

Fig. 1 (left) Bakshaish carpet woven in Northwest Persia, late nineteenth century. 12 x 21 feet. Courtesy of Peter Pap.
New York City—Dealers in top-quality art and antiques got decidedly good economic news at the january 19–28 Winter Antiques Show, where a blizzard of sales seemed to forecast blue skies ahead.

“In the nineteen years that we’ve done the Winter Show under our own banner, I’ve always considered it a barometer for the year to come,” said Taylor Williams, a Chicago dealer who ranked the event his second best ever. Specialists in every category sold well, and the show’s charity beneficiary, East Side House Settlement, reported attendance at an all-time high.

Honoring Colonial Williamsburg as the loan exhibition, the 47-year-old fair paid especially generous dividends to Americana specialists. “I sold quite a bit on opening night and through the weekend,” said Illinois folk art dealer Barbara Pollack, ticking off a list that included primitive portraits, Windsor chairs, and a painted and decorated Thomas Hoadley tall case clock from Plymouth, Connecticut.

Olde Hope Antiques of New Hope, Pennsylvania, had a booth full of folk paintings and furniture, much of which went home with collectors by the show’s end. Among Guthman Americana’s many sales was a French and Indian War commission.

“What’s left?” asked American furniture specialist Wayne Pratt, glancing around at his bare-boned booth. The Connecticut dealer sold furniture, Nantucket baskets, weathervanes, even a plaque of George Washington.

American furniture dealer Leigh Keno did a brisk trade, parting with a circa 1720 William & Mary walnut tea table with an asking price of $385,000, one of a group made near Kingston, New York. Sales of Southern furniture included several Virginia pieces, among them a fall-front desk with a list price of $250,000, at Sumpter Priddy III, Alexandria, Virginia.

“We’ve had dozens of screens in the past twenty years, but this one is the largest and most beautifully realized,” Mark Jacoby of Philip Colleck, Ltd., said of an eight-paneled screen painted in imitation of coramandel lacquer. The English furniture specialist sold four pieces on opening night. Peter Tillou also had a stellar show, parting with, among other things, an exceptional seventeenth-century Dutch Old Master painting.

“About 40 percent of our sales were to new customers, some to children of long-time clients,” noted Enrique Goytizolo of Georgian Manor Antiques, an exhibitor for the past twenty-six years. His sales included an English Regency center table and a George III mahogany writing table.

Important textile sales included a seventeenth-century English mirror with embroidered panels, offered for $165,000 by Stephen and Carol Huber of Connecticut. New Hampshire and San Francisco dealer Peter Pap sold a nineteenth-century Northwest Persian Bakshaish carpet for $120,000 (Fig. 1).

Miniatures dealer Elle Shushan was asking $35,000 for a portrait she sold by John Ramage of Elbridge Gerry, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and vice president of the United States.

Fig. 2 (below) Kubo Shumman (1757–1820), Yellow, Gold Brocade, (The Five Colors of Tea Ceremony Objects), ca. 1816. 81/4 x 71/8 in. Courtesy of Joan B. Mirviss, Ltd.
His booth studded with canvases by Gifford, Inness, W.T. Richards, and C.H. Davis, paintings dealer Thomas Colville sold ten paintings before the show was half over, a testament to the continuing strength of the American art market.

“The show went very well for most exhibitors,” noted Robert Israel of Kentshire Galleries, Ltd., who, among other things, sold a pair of Regency brass-mounted library chairs in the manner of Marsh & Tatham. His wife, jewelry specialist Ellen Israel, parted with a Cartier art deco brooch and a Fontenay Etruscan Revival necklace.

Silver specialist S.J. Shrubsole had a strong show, selling jewelry; four London coffee pots, 1710–1745; a Queen Anne monteith by Richard Syng, London, 1705; and a circa 1690 chocolate pot.

“All my best things are gone,” said Joan Mirviss, a Japanese art dealer who divides her time between New York and Tokyo. “I’ve sold all my screens, over sixty woodblock prints (Fig. 2), and my bronzes. Several things are on hold for museums. This was probably my second-best fair across the board.” New York dealer Andrew Chait said of the Neolithic pottery in his booth, “this is as old as it gets in Chinese;” buyers recognized the rarity of his items, a number of which sold during the show.

This year’s Winter Show was full of discoveries. Classical furniture expert Carswell Rush Berlin offered a rosewood and cast-iron gueridon thought to be both the earliest documented piece of American cast-iron furniture and the only piece of iron by the New York firm of Duncan Phyfe & Sons. Hirschl & Adler Galleries of New York took the wraps off its latest find, a Duncan Phyfe tambour-front worktable that descended in the Ogden family; it sold for six figures.

High honors for display went to Anthony Werneke, Bolour, and L’Antiquaire and The Connoisseur. Werneke studded his olive-paneled enclosure with American William & Mary and Queen Anne furniture, blown glass, and Delft. Bolour hung embroidered Ottoman panels outside its tented enclosure. To similar effect, L’Antiquaire and The Connoisseur mounted Piedmontese armorial trophy panels of 1670–1690.

“We came here slightly nervous. We were worried that the decline in the stock market might affect our clients. Instead we found a firm resolve to buy the best, the rarest, and the most unusual,” said Peter Finer, an English dealer in arms and armor who found New York’s winter weather not at all inhospitable.

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