Jan and John Maggs Antiques

Newsletters - 2004

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February 2004

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Hello. This is the first of what we hope will become a near-monthly newsletter to our customers and friends. Our goal is to share with you current happenings in our shop, shows, and researches. You are receiving this e-mail because you are already in our Address Book and because we think that you might like to hear from us periodically.

We are strongly opposed to spam, and if you would prefer not to receive these newsletters, please use the e-mail link below to let us know. Your name will be removed immediately, and our feelings won't be (too) hurt.

The format of this occasional publication has been under consideration for some time:

Obviously, our goal is to make our website more visible and helpful. We promise that this site will be free of external advertising, and responsive to feedback. We invite you to use the following e-mail link to give us your reactions to this newsletter, including suggestions to how it might be improved.

Thanks for being a customer. John and Jan

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March 2004

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Hello again. First, our thanks to those of you who responded to our first newsletter with encouragement and suggestions. We trust that the incorporation of your ideas will make this issue even more interesting and enlightening than our first.

This month we've made a major change in our Internet presence. As our website and related activities have grown, we've moved to a new server, one who offers us much greater and more reliable resources at a fraction of what we've been paying. You might already notice an increase in connection and download speed; in the weeks that follow, you'll notice other website improvements as well.

One of the important resources we've gained by this move is the ability to adopt a more personal, more memorable, and more permanent e-mail address. Though we'll still maintain our Comcast address (at least until Comcast sells out to someone else!), our new, official e-mail address is jmaggs@jmaggs.com. You'll probably receive another e-mail informing you of this change.

We're very excited about this upgrade and hope that you will notice a difference. As with all new ventures, however, there may be glitches in this one. If so, we thank you in advance for your patience and ask that you let us know if there's a problem.

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From time to time, we'll share our experiences in the art and antiques world with our readers. One of the high points of our February was a trip to Greenwich, Connecticut to discover the Bruce Museum and see Love Letters: Dutch Genre Paintings in the Age of Vermeer. This stunning exhibition  "examines the sudden interest among seventeenth century Dutch painters in scenes involving writing, reading and receiving letters. Love Letters traces the origins of the theme of letter writing in Holland from its inception around 1630 to its full flowering in the third quarter of the century. Works by artistic masters such as Johannes Vermeer, Dirck Hals, Gerard ter Borch, Gabriel Metsu, Frans van Mieris, Jan Steen, and Pieter de Hooch are showcased in this landmark exhibition. Organized by the Bruce Museum, Love Letters is comprised of 37 Dutch masterpiece paintings drawn from European and American public and private collections." A well-presented and engaging commentary accompanies the paintings, which are thoughtfully hung in a large, but intimate gallery. Though we visited on a Tuesday (when admission is free), there was no crowd, and we were able to spend as much time with individual works as we wished. If you love 17th century Dutch painting, treat yourself to this exhibition. It's up through May 2nd.

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April 2004

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We're Home.

Since our last newsletter, we've been going almost non-stop. After two shows in Connecticut, we flew to England for two intense weeks of buying. The results of our labors will be priced and ready for sale at our Spring Grand Opening on May 1st and 2nd from 9:00 until 5:00.

We're writing this from the wing of an 18th century manor house in Kilrane, in the south of Ireland, where we've spent the last few days. From our window we can see the ocean that we'll cross three days from now on the final leg of our journey. We've taken lots of pictures, which we hope to include in our May newsletter.

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Features

By the time this newsletter appears, May Brimfield will be only three weeks away. This month we present a guide to Brimfield for first-timers and those who'd like a broader perspective on where, when, and even why to visit this huge antiques event. By the time this newsletter appears, May Brimfield will be only three weeks away. Click The Savvy Buyer's Guide to Brimfield for some hints on getting the most out of your visit. For more information, click on any of the links to individual field sites and other helpful information that you'll find on the page.

Twice a year we travel to England, seeking English and Continental pieces to add to our inventory of period antiques. For those who think these trips are only for pleasure, we offer A Brief Diary of Our April Buying Trip.

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May 2004

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Brimfield report

(Friday, May 14, 2004) We've just taken down our tent and come home from Brimfield, where we've been during almost every waking hour since Monday. Despite outrageous gasoline prices (the lowest regular gas we saw today was $2.03 per gallon), which kept many of regular visitors away, the crowds were overwhelming. All of the major fields opened early because of pressure from the police to get buyers out of the roadway. Buying, on the other hand, was sluggish; many of our friends reported good sales, but complained that big ticket items weren't selling. One of our buyers announced her new philosophy: if you never pay more than $20 for anything, you won't ever be hurt too badly! We had strong shows at both Dealer's Choice and May's--with different stock at each--though neither show would qualify as our best.

When we weren't set up, we shopped, covering almost every field. We waded through tons of mediocre things, holding out for excellence at an affordable price. This strategy yielded nearly two dozen pieces, with each of which we are well pleased. With  most of our dealer friends reporting similar results, it's safe to say that Brimfield is still alive and well.

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Features

Our buying trip in England terminated in a week's vacation in southeast Ireland. We've posted some of our favorite photographs from the trip as well as some recommendations for travelers considering a similar vacation. Click here to go to County Wexford with us. Though we've reduced the resolution of some images considerably, those of you with slow connections will need to be patient.

We came back from England with a fairly large collection of 18th and 19th century sugar nippers. If you don't know a sugar nipper from the RCA dog, click here.

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Tales of the Trade

Click HERE for the tale of The Painted Corner Cupboard.

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In our next issue

We came to Conway in 1986, to a house and barns that were falling down from neglect and in immediate need of help. The task of restoration which we undertook then, has been ongoing for over eighteen years. Our next issue will contain the first installment of a twelve-part series on the work we've done.

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June 2004

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SHOP TALK

Thanks for opening this, our fifth monthly newsletter. We continue to hear from many of you, and your encouragement is deeply appreciated. Please continue to e-mail your comments and suggestions. Thanks for opening this, our fifth, monthly newsletter. We continue to hear from many of you, and your encouragement is deeply appreciated. Please continue to e-mail your comments and suggestions.

May was a very busy month for us, at shows and in the shop. We spent most of the week of May 10-14 at Brimfield, where we enjoyed excellent sales at both of our selling venues, thanks in part to huge crowds of buyers. Perhaps more importantly, we shopped Brimfield every day of the week and were able to acquire several excellent pieces, two of which earned us mention and a photo in Antiques and the Arts Weekly. The momentum continued through the end of the month, culminating in our best-ever Rhinebeck show. Shop sales were also strong, beginning with an excellent turnout for our post England opening, and continuing throughout the month with several significant retail and dealer sales.  Conversations with other dealers reinforce our feeling that the antiques business may be experiencing a minor rebound from the slump of the past two or three years..

June began with a new show for us, the Woodbury Antiques Fair at Three Rivers Park. This was our first show with promoter Frank Gaglio of Barn Star Productions, and we found it to be as well organized and dealer-friendly as we'd been told. The show attracted many serious buyers, though in smaller number than hoped for, due in part to a dismal weather forecast. One dealer commented, "It was a great gate. Too bad more people didn't go through it." Still, our receipts at the end of the day more than justified the investment of time and money. We'll be back in 2005.

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Click here for the first installment of the twelve-part series: THE RESTORATION OF JABEZ NEWHALL’S TAVERN.

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For years we hand-stamped or hand-wrote our website and e-mail address on the backs of these cards (of which we still have hundreds). But when the town of Conway changed our physical address by eliminating Pumpkin Hollow from the map, the obsolescence of our business card became more apparent. A change was necessary.

Our new card retains the image of a ladderback armchair, though this one is not a tracing of a picture in a book, but rather a computer-generated adaptation of a real chair--in fact, the one pictured in the Brimfield article mentioned above. Our vital statistics--including proper address, website, and e-mail--now appear in easily readable type next to rather than on the chair. We like it almost as much as the old one; we hope you do, too. The chair. We like it almost as much as the old one; we hope you do, too.

 

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July 2004

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Some Conway neighbors passing by our house as they exercise their team on a Sunday morning in July..

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SHOP TALK

Between the publication of our last newsletter and now, we've had time to be at home, enabling us to devote our spare minutes to the gardens and plantings around the house. We probably don't need to remind most of you that the past winter was unusually harsh. We've replaced many perennials, weeded our heads off, and are now in the middle of rebuilding the entrance to our shop, replacing tired, old bricks with slabs of Goshen stone. Between the publication of our last newsletter and now, we've had time to be at home, enabling us to devote our spare minutes to the gardens and plantings around the house. We probably don't need to remind most of you that the past winter was unusually harsh. We've replaced many perennials, weeded our heads off, and are now in the middle of rebuilding the entrance to our shop, replacing tired, old bricks with slabs of Goshen stone.

The buying trips we've taken have been quite productive, as the new inventory listed below will affirm. Last week we exhibited at three shows: two at Brimfield, then in Manchester, Vermont at Hildene. Brimfield was typical for July--modest sales, and good buying. Linda Turner's Hildene show continues to decline; last Saturday's gate is best described as unimpressive, and most who came exhibited little interest in buying. Still, the weather and setting were close to idyllic, and we managed to buy several things, some of which are highlighted below.

Business in the shop has been strong, due to local customers and dealers from all over the country, for which we continue to be grateful.

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This Month's Feature

In this issue of our newsletter, we offer the second in the series of twelve pictorial articles on our restoration of our home that began last month. Starting with our discovery of the derelict property 19 years ago, each installment illustrates a phase of the demolition and reconstruction which have occupied us in the intervening years. This month's chapter shows the barns and outbuildings as we found them in 1985. Click on OUTBUILDINGS: SEPTEMBER 1985 for a look. 

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August 2004

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Our friend and neighbor Alan Parker turning part of the summer's second cutting of hay last weekend..

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SHOP TALK

The closing weeks of Summer are passing too quickly. The north side of our barn (visible in the picture above) still awaits its promised refurbishment and paint, and our list of projects seems to get longer, rather than shorter. Despite the shaky economy, our sales have been strong, both in our shop and at shows. We've replaced our most expensive summer show with three less expensive ones, with resultant gains in sales, profitability, and buying opportunities.

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In next month's newsletter....

As the colder months approach, it's time to start thinking about the fireplaces that have been dormant all summer. Next month's newsletter will include a special feature on hearth cooking, including links to interesting sites, a few local resources, a few reference works, and pictures of hearth cooking accessories in our inventory.

As a customer, you are one of our most valuable assets. We thank all of you and hope that you enjoy this month's newsletter.

John and Jan

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This Month's Feature

In this issue of our newsletter, we offer the third in our series of twelve pictorial articles on our restoration of our home. This month's chapter shows highlights of the demolition work that preceded our reconstruction of the house. In this issue of our newsletter, we offer the third in our series of twelve pictorial articles on our restoration of our home. This month's chapter shows highlights of the demolition work that preceded our reconstruction of the house. Click on PHASE I: DEMOLITION for a look. 

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Tales of the Trade

Why are cradles so difficult to sell? We call this month's tale "The Cradle Conundrum".

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September 2004

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Finally, the rain gave us a window to paint the North side of our barn. Now, only the cupola remains..

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SHOWS

Since last month's newsletter, our lives have been moving at a whirlwind pace, culminating in three shows within a five-day period last week. When we arrive home from Rhinebeck in four weeks, we will have completed a run of nine shows in a ten week period. Sales have been exceptionally strong, and we've been presented with opportunities to purchase many wonderful things at sensible prices. We continue to be grateful.

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SOME NEW PRIORITIESS

For about a year we've been analyzing the cost effectiveness of various categories of our inventory. In doing so we've discovered a few pockets of inventory which produce little or no income while tying up significant amounts of our operating capital. Last month we decided to liquidate our stock of period hardware, an inventory that has been producing less income than a savings account.  We contacted one of our wholesale customers, a dealer who specializes in restoration supplies, and offered him the inventory at cost. We delivered everything to him at Brimfield last week and returned to Conway about 1000 pounds lighter!

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A NEW PUBLICATION AND AN OLD FRIEND REDISCOVERED

This month marks the appearance of a new antiques periodical--Find!!--an outgrowth of the TV program of the same name, featuring Leslie and Leigh Keno. The magazine is of special interest to us because it contains major contributions by our close friends Geoffrey and Kathryn Precourt. We especially enjoyed Geoffrey's captivating story of Ron Keno, father of the twins and an old acquaintance of ours from the outdoor shows we've exhibited at together, and Kathryn's informative piece on their collection of relief-molded jugs, loaded with information on this very interesting form.

Some of you may know Kathryn's work from the Country Home Antiques Extra, which Kathryn produced in partnership with another friend, Kit Nylen. Many of you, along with us, have lamented the passing of this wonderful little magazine--a casualty of corporate downsizing. If you never got yours, they appear on eBay from time to time. Search "Antiques Extra".

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Special Feature: Cooking on the Hearth

As the days get shorter and evenings get cooler, the season for wood fires is nearly upon us. From the beginning, we've had a fondness for iron for the hearth. During the summer we've acquired a variety of andirons, pots, trammels, gridirons, and other interesting and useful tools. In this month's special feature, you'll find many of them pictured and described. In addition, we've listed a few books and articles that might be of interest to the hearth cooking devotee and the collector. Click on the fireplace for more.

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This Month's Feature

In this issue of our newsletter, we offer the fourth in our series of twelve pictorial articles on our restoration of our home. This month's installment focuses on the earliest stage of reconstruction. Click on NEW FOUNDATIONS AND CHIMNEYS for a look.

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Tales of the Trade

Recently, during a meal at one of our favorite restaurants, we beckoned to our server. When she arrived at our table, she stopped us both in mid-swallow by asking us, "What do you lack?" Though our request was to have been a mere glass of water, her inquiry raised an issue: while we felt we lacked little, we rather desired something cool and wet. What are the distinctions between lacking, wanting, or needing?

At last month's Hancock show, a conversation with a fellow dealer offered us an insight into the difference between the things we'd like to have and those we can't live without. Click on the link for the tale of the Nine-foot Palladian Window.

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October 2004

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Friends sent us this view of our home, snapped during a recent early-morning hot-air balloon ride.

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THIS MONTH'S NEWSLETTER

You may note that this month's edition is a few days earlier than usual. You'll also find that it's a bit shorter. As usual, it contains information about upcoming shows, excerpts from some letters we've received, another set of house restoration pictures, and a very funny story from a dealer friend. But this month you won't find any new inventory in the newsletter. This isn't because we don't have any; actually, we've found quite a bit in recent weeks. Rather, it's because our shop will be closed from October 12th through November 2nd. We hope to make up for this deficiency in the next issue, which will give details about our November grand opening and will contain pictures and information about several recent acquisitions.

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This Month's Feature

In this issue of our newsletter, we offer the fifth in our series of twelve pictorial articles on our restoration of our home. This month's installment continues the earliest stage of reconstruction. In this issue of our newsletter, we offer the fifth in our series of twelve pictorial articles on our restoration of our home. This month's installment continues the earliest stage of reconstruction. Click on NEW ROOFS for a look.

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Tales of the Trade

This month we offer a great tale told to us by dealer and friend Henry Callan. Click HERE for the tale of Henry Callan, Fine Antiques.

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November 2004

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The shipment arrives from two weeks of  antiquing in England.

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THIS MONTH'S NEWSLETTER

Another hurried Newsletter, having just returned from a three-week stint in Europe. After two weeks of antiques fairs and shops in England, we spent a pleasant week vacationing and museum-hopping in Belgium. We returned home last Monday, and are still adjusting to the time change.

Our shipment arrived on Wednesday morning in two large crates. Despite the weakness of the dollar against the pound, we once again found dealers eager to do business and often able  to offset some of the monetary imbalance. The result is a better-than-average shipment, which we now have less than a week to clean and polish.

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OUR "HOME" IN BRUSSELS

One year ago we rented an apartment in the historic center of Florence, from which we enjoyed a fabulous week in Tuscany for less than we would have paid for a single room in a cheap hotel. Encouraged by that success, we pursued similar accommodations in Ireland last April.

This fall we booked an apartment on the second-to-top floor of a high-rise building in Brussels. Time does not allow us to begin to describe our excitement and enjoyment, but a few pictures and a link to a website can be seen by clicking this link.

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This Month's Feature

In this issue of our newsletter, we offer the sixth in our series of twelve pictorial articles on our restoration of our home. This month's installment continues the earliest stage of reconstruction, covering the research and process through which we reshaped the back part of the house. Click on RE-SCULPTING THE OLD CAPE for a look.

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Tales of the Trade

Though not, strictly speaking, a trade-related tale, this month's story recounts an experience we had in our recent vacation in Brussels. Click on the link to learn about The Day I Didn't Get My Pocket Picked.

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December 2004

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Our house in its December finery.

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May each of you have a joyful holiday season

and a happy and successful new year.

Jan and John

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SINCE LAST MONTH'S NEWSLETTER....

Our gala post-England Opening was well-attended as many shoppers enjoyed the spoils of our October buying trip. A week later we were on the road again, exhibiting at two very different shows. The Wethersfield show reminded us of the old Stratford Winter Show in its high quality and presentation, and turned out surprisingly well in the sales department. This is a show with a fine future, and we look forward to doing it again next year. The Hampton Falls (NH) market exceeded all of our expectations. We brought high-end pieces, and the dealers and retail buyers who came responded enthusiastically. A week later we went to Westport, Connecticut for a rather sluggish show. Still, despite poor attendance and fairly dismal sales, we were been able to purchase a few interesting pieces.

This flurry of activity marks the end of our show schedule for 2004. In December we're staying close to home, offering expanded hours for holiday shoppers. Beginning on Thursday, December 2 we'll be open Thursday through Sunday for four weeks. We'll offer warm cider and sweets and will show, in addition to the usual kinds of things, many gift items we've selected for their appropriateness as gifts and for their moderate prices.

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This Month's Feature

In this issue of our newsletter, we offer the seventh in our series of twelve pictorial articles on our restoration of our home. This month we move inside as we begin to turn the old house into a home.  Read PREPARING FOR OUR FIRST WINTER.

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Tales of the Trade

The art of negotiating is a delicate one. Sometimes an attempt to save a few dollars can backfire, as in Can you do a little better?

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