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MANCHESTER, N.H. — The original antiques week did it again, filling this northern New England city with antiques, dealers and antiques collectors to experience what several customers called the best shopping in the country for Americana. Waiting in line for the opening of New Hampshire Antiques Dealers Association’s annual affair, there was broad agreement among a group that this event is the very best collection of early American furniture, household tools and equipment and décor items from before 1800.
The year’s show, held Aug. 9-14, consisted of five antiques shows, with Manchester Pickers Market starting the week on Monday, for just one day. Barnstar Productions had gathered nearly a hundred dealers in the former Furniture World building at the south side of Manchester, with great early painted furniture as one of the favorite collections. Hannah Humes, a well-traveled dealer from Westerville, Ohio, was offering a collection of small Americana, including a collection of miniature paintings at Pickers.
Managed by Frank Gaglio, this show moved to the beginning of the week several years ago and has prospered with great attendance, and, even in these tough economic times, good sales.
Tuesday morning, Nan Gurley’s Americana at Deerfield was opened at 8 a.m. to more than 500 waiting patrons, who came running up the hill to be first at their favorite exhibition. Gurley had all the available buildings at the Deerfield, N.H., Fairgrounds filled to the maximum capacity, with several dozen exhibiting outside in their own tents. This show typically features early Colonial-era primitive antiques, but it is not limited to that. Several exhibitors reported that small antiques were selling here very well.
At noon Tuesday, Start of Manchester Antiques Show opened the gates at J.F.K. Ice Rink in the north part of town for the customers, allowing the collecting to begin. This show was begun in the late ’90s by Kay and Bill Puchstein, then sold to Flamingo Eventz. Over the years, opening times and schedules have changed so while keeping its original name, it is the third to open in the week. There were a variety of collections offered, including with Revolutionary and Federal period antiques from Axtell Antiques of Deposit, Penn., and collections gathered in England from Fanshawe Blaine from Raphine, Va.
As the week continued, the shows got even bigger, with Mid-Week at Manchester, Barnstar’s second show opening at Furniture World Building Wednesday. This two day affair was 130 dealers exhibiting early home furnishings, art, folk art and even some outsider art. Gaglio has been building this event as his most important show of the year with probably the best collections and largest audience. Featured collections included stoneware from Charles and Barbara Adams, Cape Cod, Mass.; fine Southern furniture and accessories from Sumpter Priddy III, Alexandria, Va.; and folk art from New Jersey dealer Jim Grievo.
All these shows are satellites to the original show — and one of the most important antiques events of the year — the New Hampshire Antiques Dealers Association Antiques Show, which opened Thursday for a three-day run. Held in the center of New Hampshire hall, now a part of the Radisson Hotel in the center of town, this gathering of about 70 dealers was spectacular in the presentations and arrangements. Sales here, with more than 800 waiting for the opening, were just as good as could be expected for this is one of the oldest shows in the country. Exhibitor Tommy Thompson, who has homes in Florida and New Hampshire, was the volunteer show manager this year. For the first hour, customers waited in line to speak to him about specific purchases in his booth. There were many other dealers who were similarly busy that morning, selling Americana, home décor, additions to collections of earthenware and many more fine small antiques. This is also the show where there were many pieces of furniture made by the master cabinet makers of pre-revolutionary America.
In its more than 60 years, The Week has become the premier event for antiques, where customers proudly say they found their antique in Manchester, and only add the year, for they usually come back. This year, the audience for the shows was like it had been several years ago, big crowds of customers waiting and returning to the individual shows and buying in good quantities.
These shows each have their own producers, but the date pattern has remained the same for many years. For 2011, expect the week to be Aug. 8-13. Book hotels early, for they do fill quickly, and watch Antique Trader’s calendar for more specifics. ?
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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