NEW YORK — A variety of Big Apple auctions, shows and even museums shined a spotlight on American heritage during New York’s Americana Week. Held Jan. 21-23, 2011, venues emphasize the American heritage in fine art, home furnishings and furniture and folk art. The antiques shows were full with dealers from all across the country exhibiting what they have found in their own areas or in their travels that fits their own styles and tastes in Americana.
Stella Show Management had about 100 dealers for Antiques at The Armory, all showing their best collections of Americana. A few blocks away, The American Antiques Show — nicknamed TAAS — was holding court with about 40 exhibitors; TAAS was sponsored by The American Folk Art Museum. Further uptown, at 55th Street and 12th Avenue, was Americana and Antiques at The Pier also produced by Stella, which had assembled nearly 200 exhibitors, including a large contingent of book, paper and ephemera dealers.
This week and these shows have become the premier showcase for dealers to exhibit and buyers to collect some of the best early American antiques covering the 400-year history from the first European settlements through today, as well as some Native American and European antiques.
Collette Donovan, Merrimack Port, Mass., was showing a very early bedroom in her exhibit at TAAS. A rope-framed bed, an early candle stand and very early bed covers set the scene. Even the accessories were early primitives, including a wooden double- candle stand on swivel base.
Moving on through time and history, there were many exhibits featuring 18th-century home furnishing and furniture. On part of Samuel Herrup’s TAAS exhibit showed several pieces of early furniture in original paint decoration, along with slightly later accessories, including a room-size hooked rug of some ancient family pet. William and Teresa Kurau of Lampeter, Pa., had a large part of their collection of early Staffordshire and Pearlware, all English, but popular in Colonial America.
Early painted furniture at The Armory Show was the primary focus of Scott Bassoff and Sandy Jacobs of Swampscott, Mass. The largest piece was a large wardrobe in original grain paint.
Traveling from California to TAAS, Just Folk showed a very early hooked rug with a historical theme of George Washington and his horse in triumph. Just Folk’s triumph for was a sold sign over the $9,500 price tag.
The collections of 19th-century antiques were plentiful at all three shows. Susan and Rod Bartha of Riverwoods, Ill., were busy Saturday at The Pier, relocating some of their inventory to fill the spaces created by early morning sales of furniture, folk art and early advertising.
Also at The Pier, Christopher Evans of Waynesboro, Va., offered Southern furniture, both in paint decoration and some hardwood in original finish.
Gordon Converse of Wayne, Pa., has a great reputation for the clocks he sells, which generally date from 1700 through 1900 and are in excellent condition. There were several featured in his exhibit at The Armory, along with some wonderful folk art and fine art.
Malcolm Franklin, a Chicago dealer at The Armory, was offering fine hardwood furniture from about 1750 through the late 19th century. His collection included upholstered pieces, as well as some early wood.
A quilt from late in the 19th was a part of the collection Stella Rubin of Darnestown, Md., shared at TAAS. The quilt depicted scenes from Genesis on its border.
Even later in the 19th century was the Stickley Collection, offered by Dalton American Decorative Arts of Syracuse, N.Y. The entire exhibit was Mission-style furniture — a pure American design. Most of the pieces were manufactured by a family of Germanic immigrants and their descendants were based in Brooklyn, N.Y., after the Civil War and still in business there today. The excellent-condition Dalton collection at TAAS was vast enough to furnish a parlor and study.
As Americana Week is not limited by dates, many exhibitors with very desirable 20th-century collections as well. Ohioan Mark Morris was at the front of The Pier with a big collection of Mid-century Modern pieces. Totally Bruce of Brooklyn, N.Y., showed a collection of funky pieces, including some gear forms and a life-size wooden horse. David Drummand of Lititz, Pa., offered a taste of the industrial style in his collection, also at The Pier.
At The Armory, Modern was the name of the game for pieces displayed by Bridges Over Time from Newburgh, N.Y. Meanwhile, Danish Modern was the theme for the display by Greg Nanamura of New York.
The collections, of course, included Folk and Outsider art from many time periods. A Bird in Hand of Florham Park, N.J., was showing 19th-century hooked rugs at TAAS. Otto and Susan Hart of Arlington, Vt., shared an eclectic mix of pieces whose only common ground was creativity. Praiseworthy Antiques of Guilford, N.Y. showed its late collection at TAAS, as well.
The majority of the exhibitors interviewed after the events were pleased with the shows and their outcomes. In most cases, the dealers saw better sales than they did last year, and there was a general consensus that traffic was up and sales were good. Furniture, accessories and art accounted for the most significant sales.
The Americana-themed shows are a New York Tradition, so you can expect them to return next January.
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