Thursday, January 23, 2014

Antiques Week At Last! The 2014 New York Ceramics Fair

Tuesday evening marked the official beginning of the 2014 New York Antiques Week with the opening party of the New York Ceramics Fair and the arrival of a massive snowstorm that brought the city to a standstill.

Not an auspicious start for Antiques Week or the Ceramics Fair, I would posit, as the show's dealers and the opening's attendees both struggled to navigate the city's treacherous streets, with weather forecasters predicting up to a foot of snow in Manhattan overnight.

The Bohemian National Hall on Manhattan's UES

By the time I made it to the Bohemian National Hall on 73rd Street, the venue for the New York Ceramics Fair, there was already a heavy blanket of snow on the ground, and the temperature had dropped into the mid-teens, and was heading further south.

A little bit of snow was not about to keep Reggie from attending the Ceramics Fair's opening party, Dear Reader.  Not on your tin-type!  Reggie wouldn't miss the Ceramics Fair (one of the highlights of Antiques Week, in his view) for the world.

After depositing my coat and hat with the coat check, my first destination was the party's open bar, where I fortified myself with a glass of champagne and marched into the Bohemian Hall's concert hall, where the dealers were set up.

Mr. and Mrs. Paul Vandekar

I made a bee-line to the booth of Earle D. Vandekar of Knightsbridge, where I thanked Mr. and Mrs. Paul Vandekar, shown in the preceding photograph, for inviting Boy and me to the opening party, as their guests.

The Earle D. Vandekar booth

The Vandekar's always have a tasty selection of pretty porcelains and ceramics on display, and we've bought pieces from the over the years for our collection at Darlington House.

I was quite taken with this early pearlware Staffordshire pair of recumbent figures of Cleopatra and Anthony, ca. 1815.  I've admired similar examples of this pair before, and hope to eventually own a set one day.

I also took a fancy to this lidded pearlware sugar bowl (at least that's what I think it is) in the form of an artichoke, made in the first quarter of the nineteenth century.

Ms. Myrna Schkolne, the Laughing Lady, and Mr. John Howard

My next stop was the booth of John Howard, of Woodstock England, where I was warmly greeted by Mr. Howard and his friend Ms. Myrna Schkolne, a noted expert on early English ceramics.  I didn't catch the name of the Laughing Lady between them, but I believe she may have come up to New York from Baltimore for the shows.  We've bought numerous pieces from Mr. Howard over the years.

A view of the John Howard booth

The Laughing Lady was at the Ceramics Fair with Mr. Stiles Colwill, seen in the green jacket in the above photograph, who kindly introduced himself to me when he overheard me discussing Reggie Darling with Mr. Howard.  I have heard many nice things about Mr. Colwill from our mutual friend, Ms. Meg Fielding, a fellow Baltimorean and the writer of the charming blog Pigtown Design.  It was a pleasure to finally meet Mr. Colwill.

In John Howard's booth I was crazy about this green glazed creamware bow pot, shaped like a sarcophagus, ca. 1800.

I was also overjoyed to see a Staffordshire figure of Jumbo the elephant, ca. 1850, similar to one in our own collection that we bought from a different dealer at the Ceramics Fair several years before.  You can learn about this marvelous pachyderm in the post I wrote about buying ours here.

The Santos booth

Turning from John Howard's booth I strolled into that of Santos, of London England.  I was attracted by the group of large Chinese export porcelain punch bowls on display, sitting on top of the glass display cases.

The punch bowl that got me into trouble

I was particularly drawn to the one shown in the preceding photograph, ca. 1800, painted with Masonic emblems.  Although I am not a Free Mason, I love their symbolic decorations, and have always admired Chinese export porcelains painted with them.  Alas, this bowl was not to be added to my collection of export punch bowls as the proprietor of the booth was in no mood to speak with me, and became visibly irritated when I asked him if it would be okay if I took a photograph of the bowl he had on display.  Ah well—I hope he will be in a better humor when the Ceramics Fair opens to the general public.

A general view of the main floor of the Ceramics Fair

Turning from the Santos booth I made my way back onto the main floor of the hall to see what else was on offer.

"First in war, first in peace, and first in the
hearts of his countrymen"

I was intrigued by this early nineteenth-century pearlware bust of George Washington, stamped 1818, from the pottery works of Enoch Wood.  I already have a similar one in my own collection, but I believe mine is later, from a strike done in the 1880s or so.

Ms. Jacqueline Smelkinson and Ms. Marcia Moylan

I then stopped by the booth of Moylan-Smelkinson of Baltimore, Maryland (do I notice a trend of Baltimoreans here?) to say hello to the two lovely ladies, but forgot to take photographs of their booth in my excitement in seeing and speaking with them.

By this time I had made a full circle of the main floor of the Ceramics Fair, and so I made my way upstairs to the mezzanine level, where I was delighted to find another bar set up and a ready replenishment of my empty champagne flute.

Looking down on the main floor of the hall
from the mezzanine level

My mission in going to the mezzanine level was to stop in the booth of Lynda Willauer Antiques of Nantucket, Massachusetts.  Boy and I are regular customers of Ms. Willauer's, both at shows in New York and at her charming shop on Nantucket.

A view of the booth of Lynda Willauer Antiques

It was in Ms. Willauer's booth that I found my can't-live-without purchase of two majolica garden stools in the form of tree trunks, made in Sweden ca. 1880.

A near-pair of majolica garden stools

Boy and I have been under bidders on similar tree trunk-shaped garden stools at auctions in the past, and we have had our eyes out for one ever since to use on our screen porch during the summer, as an occasional table.

Boy examining one of the garden stools

We quickly determined that we had to have them, and came to an agreement with Ms. Willauer to buy them from her.  While I wasn't expecting to come away with two of them, they were sold as a pair and I am now the proud owner of not one, but two of these marvelous garden stools.

The Warren's booth

Our final stop at the Ceramics Fair was the booth of Maria and Peter Warren Antiques of Wilton, Connecticut, where Boy had spied an attractive, early nineteenth century black basalt covered sugar bowl earlier during the show.  He is now the happy owner of the basalt sugar bowl, seen in the following photograph, which will join our burgeoning collection of basalt when we return to Darlington House this weekend.

Boy also acquired a small green feather edged creamware plate from Maria and Peter Warren Antiques, ca. 1820, to add to his collection of green feather edge plates and serving pieces.

I'll take it!

With our purchases completed, we bid the Ceramics Fair adieu and headed out the door for a quick bite of dinner at the nearby cheap-n-cheerful Finnegan's Wake Irish pub.

The main dining room at Finnegan's Wake

Well fortified with ceramics, drink, and food, we then braved the snowy night and walked the several blocks to our apartment building and to our dear Basil, who was snoozing away on his pillow waiting for us.

Baby it's cold outside!

And with that, Dear Reader, Reggie's completes his reportage on this year's New York Ceramics Fair.

The New York Ceramics Fair
Bohemian National Hall
321 East 73rd Street
Between 1st and 2nd Avenues
January 22-26, 2014

Next: Reggie Attends the Winter Antiques Show Opening Party


  1. That green glazed creamware is divine!! I browse at auctions often and even here in London you don't get to see many of that. It seems that even in antique ceramics there are waves of items of certain styles that are released to the market. l must admit I can't help but feel for the people who have to pack it all up and make sure all the wares are transported back safe!

  2. So glad that you finally got to meet Stiles! He's terrific as is his partner! And while everyone thinks that Baltimore is just The Wire, it is people like Stiles and Smelkinson-Moylan who prove that it's a lot more!

  3. I am mad for those Majolica garden stools. I don't think you'll ever regret having bought both.
    As for the export punch bowl, it is my policy to pass on ornery vendors.
    From your report, it looked like a great show.

  4. Glorious. I love it when you cover these shows, living as I do in California. Where, by the, way, that artichoke would be PERFECT. Also, shouldn't we hope to see Antony and Antony? He's rather fetching in his pantaloons:).

  5. Hello Reggie,

    Thank you for another wonderful report from this terrific show, and congratulations on your finds. I'd love to attend this show in person if I ever make it to New York, but until then, you are doing an admirable job of bringing your fortunate readers along for the ride. It looks like heaven and a place I could do some serious damage to my cheque book.

    Your basalt purchase is very covetable indeed. Oh, and I think you meant "bough" pot not "bow" pot when describing that outstanding green piece.

  6. I feel terribly for the exhibitors who come from England only to have poor attendance at the show. Here's hoping it improves as the weather does. Lovely things... I had my eye on a petrified stump for quite a while for the same reason you did... marvelous look and great with other furniture.

  7. I could go crazy there, but alas, money IS an object.
    Thanks for sharing all the photos.

  8. Thank you, Reggie Darling, for taking us inside with you and generously showing us around the Ceramics Fair! I hope you will photograph the garden stools once they've settled into their new home.

  9. Hello Reggie, Those tree-trunk stools are very appealing. I know that your major interest is in the majolica, but here there are similar stools which are actual sections of tree trunks, and the antique ones can be very beautiful.

    An even more interesting option is those made from petrified tree trunks--I bought one as a gift for a friend, and it was very difficult to give away. I have even seen whole large picnic tables made from vast slabs of petrified wood, for which I was overcome with desire! If only I had my yard back...

  10. Reggie, the Staffordshire Antony and Cleopatra are wonderful. I also love Jumbo the elephant. Boy has a very good eye to capture the black basalt sugar bowl for your collection!

    The Arts by Karena

  11. I'd have to take that doomed romantic pair ..they remind me of that portrait of Byron in Turkish?? dress

  12. PS. I'd love someone to explain to me why dealers, shop owners and others don't want to let bloggers take pictures. I'd think that they'd welcome the PR and exposure.

  13. I used to work for Paul Vandekar many years ago. He has splendid things. Imagine my surprise one day when I answered the telephone in his shop and the curator of the Palace of Versailles was calling. It made my day!

  14. We've both been acquisitive in the last few days. I do like that basalt sugar; well I do like basalt. How tiresome of Mr China punch bowl. I think you might have had to restrain me from, well not punching him physically, but certainly verbally. Abfab have a great scene of a similarly "attitudinal" gallery person, who obviously gets a good tongue-lashing from Edina, (which is priceless):

    "I'd drop the attitude if I were you. You're only a shop clerk." (The last word pronounce the American way.)

  15. Great Post. I loved living in Manhattan, but LA is a lot more weaether friendly at the moment. I'm a bit jealous of those garden seats--amazing score.

  16. Fantastic post! How wonderfully brave of you both to venture out in the snow storm! Your purchases are really divine -- the basalt sugar bowl is fantastic -- will Boy create a spring flower bouquet in it? I will add my wonderment at the haughty attitude of the punchbowl vendor! Sounds like he could benefit from a few cups of a strongly brewed punch from that gorgeous bowl!

    Cheers! Jan at Rosemary Cottage

  17. great experience, love the way you handle it,...

  18. Can't wait to see the purchases "in situ"!

  19. Hi there Reggie,

    I saw in today's New York Social Diary by David Patric Columbia that you and Bruce were at the Preview Party for the Winter Antiques Show. I haven't gone there for years, but back in the day, the flower arrangements that graced the place, sometimes were just as beautiful as the world class antiques themselves.

    The thing that I most remember about that event, and I used to go on the first Saturday, was seeing a good amount of ladies dressed all day, inside in full length fur coats and not unbuttoning them. It was always hot in there for me, and I always wondered "what and if" they had anything under those expensive wraps. But that was back in the 90's ;-}

  20. Paul Vandekar not only has beautiful things; but what a display artist!! I have bought some beautiful things ! But I have never seen any display that rivals his!
    You have motivated me to publish the photos of his display I took at the San Francisco Antique show over a year ago!

  21. Love ceramic Garden garden seats. Your faux Bois example is tree-mendous. Ha!

  22. Ha! Some antiques dealers have no concept of social media. Or perhaps PR? There is a local dealer who was visibly irritated when I asked to take a photo for my blog of a piece I had intended to purchase. She also told me proudly that she didn't know anything about the piece. Ignorance is to be celebrated? Her reaction persuaded me that I might find something equally lovely elsewhere and I did not include her booth in my post. I found out later from one of my dealer friends that she has a terrible reputation for bullying at local sales and auctions. No guarantee that good taste equals good breeding!

  23. Heavens, how brave of you to venture out in all that snow! I can't believe you didn't snatch the sarcophagus but the garden seats are so unique. I so miss living in Manhattan...would have loved to see the Dutch Masters at the Frick. Did you go?

  24. Those garden stools are to-die-for! Hope you found great things! Always good seeing you guys! E+J


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