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Home | Articles | The 56th Annual Williamsburg Antiques Forum

Sampler dealers Stephen and Carol Huber alongside Williamsburg Associate Curator of Textiles, Kimberly Smith Ivey, on their way to view the costume exhibit, Language of Clothing.
For the past fifty-six years, collectors, scholars, and dealers have congregated at Colonial Williamsburg’s annual Antiques Forum. Many attendees return every season to exchange ideas, socialize, network, and, most importantly, to hear established scholars speak alongside new stars in the field.

The topic of this year’s program was Made in America: The Arts of the Early Republic. Keynote speaker, Pulitzer Prize-winner Gordon S. Wood, brilliantly set the tone with his“Revolutionary Origins of American Culture.” His talk addressed the Revolutionaries as people eager to emulate rather than reject European culture, and how successful their methods were in attaining their aspirations. With that as groundwork, speakers including Robert McCracken Peck, who enlightened the audience on Philadelphia’s role in the development of science and natural philosophy; Sumpter Priddy, who introduced his recent scholarship on the decorative phenomenon “Fancy” (see pages 134–139); and Glen Adamson, who examined the development of modern science in connection with the
Philadelphia ceramics firm Bonnin and Morris (active 1770–1772), presented their research and ideas.

Ronald Bourgeault, owner of Northeast Auctions, taking advantage of spare time by perusing selections from the bookstore.
In summarizing the conference, Wendell Garrett (see pages 168–170) spoke of the realization of American citizens during this period that theirs was “a new order of the ages, full of hope and promise.” Through the lectures presented, attendees were indeed able to see how a people’s newfound freedom and nationhood was expressed through their ideas and decorative and fine arts. To be a part of next year’s Forum, Town and Country: Urban and Rural Expressions in American Decorative Arts, scheduled for February 6–10, 2005, call 757.565.8921.

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