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Wednesday, December 7, 2022

“It’s Like Gold”: New Hampshire Antiques Show Offers Haven in Volatile Times

Written by 
Peter Sawyer Antiques, Exeter, N.H. Peter Sawyer Antiques, Exeter, N.H.
MANCHESTER, N.H. – Shoppers looking for a little retail therapy and a respite from the volatile stock market found it at the New Hampshire Antiques Show. The 54th annual event got underway at the Radisson in Manchester, N.H., on Thursday morning, August 11, when hundreds of buyers stormed the show to get first pick of early New England arts offered by 67 exhibitors.
 
“It’s like gold,” Bev Longacre, co-manager of the three-day event sponsored by the New Hampshire Antiques Dealers Association, said of the rush to invest  in weathervanes and game boards, hooked rugs and paint-decorated  accessories.
 
Now is indeed a good time to buy. As Peter Pap, a dealer in antique Oriental rugs in nearby Dublin, N.H., wrote in his latest newsletter: “So much advice is out there about investing in hard assets, with people fixating on commodities like gold and silver and not thinking seriously about buying fine art…Carefully selected” antiques, while generally not as liquid as silver or gold, “could be a really good move right now” and “have also proven to be stable investments,” noted Pap.
 
“People are having fun and investing in concrete things,” agreed Bev Longacre.
 
Her husband, Marlborough, N.H., dealer Thomas R. Longacre, saves colorful folk art and country furniture for a year for the New Hampshire Antiques Show, displaying it to advantage in a light, bright stand that appeals to customers looking to incorporate Americana into contemporary interiors.
 
“We had the right stuff at the right prices and the right plan to display it,” said Longacre, a 34-year veteran of the fair whose walls were papered with sold tags barely two hours after opening.
 
Longacre’s neighbors, Russ and Karen Goldberger, also did well, restocking their booth daily to fill in gaps left by their many sales of folk art, painted furniture and decoys. The Rye, N.H., dealers have recently rebalanced their business approach, cutting their schedule back to one antiques show a year while doubling down on e-commerce.
 
The show’s onsite shipper said that orders for deliveries, often a barometer of furniture sales, declined this year. Business was nevertheless robust for Gail and Don Piatt, who ticketed a settle, a step-back cupboard and a three-drawer blanket chest; for Michael Whittemore, who wrote up a Rhode Island Queen Anne tea table, two weathervanes, eight game boards and hooked rugs; and Jan Whitlock, who, enjoying her best New Hampshire Antiques Show ever, sold a dry sink, a collection of pen wipes, scalloped shelves and a Baltimore baby’s quilt.
 
Peter Sawyer and Scott Bassett sold two of their best pieces, a New Hampshire bow-front, drop-panel chest of drawers of contrasting woods and an Aaron Willard, Jr., tall clock, priced $85,000, with rocking-ship dial and an engraved paper label by Paul Revere. “The only one with a better case is in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston,” said Bassett.
 
Competitive pricing plus no sales tax makes the New Hampshire Antiques Show a favorite of collectors. Probably from the Duxbury, Ma., area, a circa 1760-85 Queen Anne maple chest-on frame with curvaceous legs and skirt was a highlight at Nathan Liverant & Son of Colchester, Ct., where it was reasonably priced at $19,500.
 
Another furniture specialist, Newbury, Ma., dealer Peter Eaton, sold a Massachusetts maple and oak gate-leg table acquired from legendary New Hampshire dealer Roger Bacon in the 1960s, plus several other pieces of furniture and a painting.
 
Eaton’s partner, paintings specialist Joan Brownstein, devoted a separate booth to works on paper, among them an 1837 double portrait by J.H. Davis of the Deerfield, N.H., girls Eunice and Lurana Marden, $39,000, and a collection of illuminated manuscript drawings from the copy book of Dolle Green of Weare, N.H., circa 1794, $34,000.
 
Two exceptional 19th century watercolor portraits of a mother and a daughter by the Pennsylvania itinerant Henry Young turned up at Newsom & Berdan of Thomasville, Pa. “I just though they were wonderful,” said Betty Berdan, who bought them recently at a country auction where they were consigned by descendants of the sitters.
 
Marine and China trade specialist Paul de Coste featured two 1830s whaling logs, $22,000, from New Bedford, Ma., for the ships Delight and Hydaspe.  Hydaspe was the first whaling ship built on the Mystic River in Stonington, Ct.
 
Needlework expert Amy Finkel parted with samplers from Washington City; Trenton, N.J.; Montville, Ct.; and Danville, Vt.,  but sold no furniture, which is unusual for the Philadelphia dealer.
 
New Hampshire-based Russack & Loto Books  had strong interest in ceramics references from the library of a noted conservator. Said Judy Loto, “We are looking to buy any good book collection. People who have been collecting for twenty or thirty years are generally great sources for us.”
 
This year’s New Hampshire Antiques Show was supported by a newly invigorated marketing campaign that included extensive color advertising in trade publications, e-couponing and a review by an Associated Press reporter that made national news. 
 
“The gate might have been up a hair from last year,” said Pembroke, N.H., dealer Thomas M. Thompson, the show’s co-chair, noting that increased attendance on Thursday and Saturday was offset by a slight decline on Friday.
 
While many participants believe that the formula for one of the most successful, longest running antiques shows in history should not be tampered with, at least one exhibitor floated the idea of moving the fair up a few days to catch shoppers before fatigue sets in and to dovetail more closely with Northeast’s annual August Americana auction,  considered the kick-off to Antiques Week in New Hampshire.
 
“The New Hampshire Antiques Show is the market leader and should come first,” said the dealer.
 
Write to Laura Beach at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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