Harwinton Antiques and Design Weekend, a new Connecticut antiques show, marks excellent start despite severe weather


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Country Treasures, Preston, Md. always looks for early painted furniture for their collection. All photos courtesy Tom O'Hara.

HARWINTON, Ct. – Harwinton Antiques and Design Weekend, June 11-12, 2011 overcame extreme weather conditions with over 3,000 visitors at the new venue for Jenkins Management’s twice a year Connecticut show. Formerly at the polo grounds in Farmington, last September Jon Jenkins announced a move about 10 miles west to Harwinton Fairgrounds with facilities for about 40 exhibitors inside and room for large multi-dealer tents as well as single dealer outdoor spaces which ultimately accommodated over 220 exhibitors. Food concessions, indoor comfort stations, and even some showers for the exhibiting dealers that camp on site were a part of this new show site.

Late Thursday afternoon, the day before dealers were to enter the field a storm whipped through the site and took down two thirds of the small tents and two of the five multi-dealer tents. In spite of that, by late Friday morning all the small tents were replaced and the big tents were in process of being re-erected. While this delayed dealer set ups, the dealer upsets were allayed Saturday morning the customers arrived in spite of heavy rain as the gates opened. More than two thousand visitors came to see the first day offering spending very well, buying across the board, furniture, fine art, folk art, home accessories and a great deal more. Sunday saw many returning and another thousand visitors with good spring weather.

Shoppers and exhibitors alike found this to be an inexpensive alternative to other New England and Hudson Valley shows: A site where they could find high quality antiques, folk art and decorative arts without prices pushed excessively high simply to cover outrageously exhibition costs.

 Harwinton Connecticut antiques
The Ryans have their shop at home across the street from the Harwinton Fairgrounds entrance but were regulars at the predecessor show in Farmington for many years so they just had to be here.

Marvin Eliot was offering his collection of early iron at one of the inside facilities. While the Saturday weather crimped his overall totals, he said his “sales were ok. We’ll be back because you can’t blame the weather on the promoter. And I love the facility.”

A specialty of the mother daughter team Emily Lampert and Irma Lampert is foil paintings from the early 19th century. Here they were offering several early pieces and a large collection of other small antiques.

Folk Art has become Jim Hirsheimer’s focus. The Erwinna, Pa., dealer travels to sales and shows to shop and sell for the early hand made off beat articles such as the pieces he was offering her at Harwinton. The carved boy was about life size for a five year old, clothed as a manikin for a store window, found in West Virginia and probably made by some local craftsman for the shop keeper about 1940 according to Hirsheimer. It was priced at $4,500. Another novel piece was his wooden dog, a life size spaniel about 16 inches tall, primitively carved, priced at $6,500; guaranteed to be housebroken.

 From about 1875 until 1950 weather vanes were incorporated into lightning rods for the decoration of these protective and functional objects. Ted Storb found them fascinating and they became his specialty so as he travels throughout the country he has regular sources to visit buying more to keep his inventory full. Ted has said there are more to be found in the Midwest and Plains States but the demand for them today is as decorator items in the East; at least enough for Ted to make a decent living! At Harwinton he filled a tent with them including his current favorite, The Ajax Manufacturing Company cow, circa 1880, a very unique piece, noteworthy with its scroll work stand. The condition is very good and price at $885 kept this little piece of Americana affordable.

 Steve Smoot, Lancaster, Pa., was among the first dealers to sign up for Harwinton late last September while exhibiting at another show elsewhere. At the time he said what he was looking for was an accessible location, with good space, indoors and inexpensive.
According to him, that is what he got at Harwinton as well as adequate sales, even with difficult weather on Saturday. His North Carolina pie safe tagged at $1,650 sold along with smalls and some other furniture.

 Harwinton Connecticut antiques
Harwinton is both inside and outside exhibits, with good food and comfort facilities for the visitors, so even in poor weather shopper came Saturday and did good spending.

 While there was no single remarkable item sold Steve German reported their sales as good selling mostly smalls. He said they felt the weekend proved to be worth the time and investment, signing on for Labor Day Weekend, September 3-4, 2011.

 “Good show with good sales even in the rain,” Al Bunting said. He and his wife Jane were in a tent on the main walk way with a collection of furniture that spanned about 300 years, from 1650 into Mid-Century and all many of smalls. They have a large truck which he said “takes a couple days to fill for this big of a show and we try to have something for all styles and tastes.”

The very elaborate birdcage from the 19th century was sold early Saturday to a customer in a small sedan for $950. Andy Wassle, the selling dealer said they paid him, and promised to return for it in a bigger vehicle.

 By Sunday late in the day, the exhibitors were exhausted, the promoters were too, but shoppers had a great time finding just enough great stuff to make most of the participants happy enough to plan their return for the Labor Day Weekend, Sept. 3-4 or next year.

Jenkins Management, knowing there was a long standing Pennsylvania show for many of its dealers offered to renew the indoor spaces for the dealers that could not attend on Labor Day Weekend this year. There were conditions, including early booking. Even so, the September show is filling rapidly; for more information, visit their website
www.harwintonantiquesweekend.com or 317-598-0012.

Tom O’Hara is a freelance writer and dealer, owner of Easter Hill Antiques of Sharon, Conn. In the past, he has covered shows in Brimfield, Round Top and Springfield, Ohio, for Antique Trader.


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More Images:

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This game table with vivid red and black paint is from the collection of Thomas Longacre, Marlborough, N.H., and priced at $850.
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The red buttermilk paint was still visible on Steve Smoot's pie safe. From North Carolina, the mid-19th century piece was priced at $1,650.
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Sugar Princess, Montville, N.J. trades in antiques and collectibles, here showing their mid-century supply of sand pails.
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Storb Antiques collects and trades in antique weathervane lightning rods, only.
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Jim Hirsheimer, Erwinna, Penn. did not know what the dog was used for, perhaps as a part of a sign. It was carved in hardwood, painted and priced at $6,500.
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Doug Ramsey, Hadley, Mass.

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