Jan and John Maggs Antiques

Conway, Massachusetts

Newsletters - 2005

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January, 2005

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SINCE LAST MONTH'S NEWSLETTER....

December seemed particularly busy this year. Opting to devote the month to our shop and do no shows was a bit risky, but the shop was busy throughout the month, and our year ended with a solid fourth quarter. Our thanks to all who helped make 2004 our largest grossing year since 1999.

The new year began with a sluggish outing in Hampton Falls, followed by a Mystic show that was hampered by a slippery Saturday morning, exacerbated by forecasts of impending doom by the media. Nonetheless, our sales were very strong, fulfilling our expectations for this very good show. Congratulations to David and Karyn Garside and Chuck and Jan Thompson for making the transition of show managers go so smoothly.

We finished 2004 with a very strong inventory, perhaps not ideal for tax purposes, but an affirmation of our ability to buy competitively at a time when many of our colleagues are being very cautious. So, there are plenty of fresh pieces, some of which are described below. We'll be at home and in the shop during the weekends of January 15-16 and 22-23, then back to to Hampton Falls on the 30th.

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This Month's Feature

This month we offer the eighth in our series of twelve pictorial articles on our restoration of our home. After our first winter inside we shift our attention to the exterior. SPRING 1987 -- CLAPBOARDS AND PAINT

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Tales of the Trade

We're happy to pass along Judd Gregory's tale of a recent photo shoot.

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February, 2005

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Early morning snowfall -- February 2005

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This issue marks the beginning of our second year of publication. Despite occasional missed deadlines, we've managed to get an issue out each month. Those of you who have sent encouraging notes have helped us to justify the time it takes, as have the many sales which have resulted from it.

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This Month's Feature

This month our pictorial series on the restoration of our home begins our work on the outbuildings. Click for THE CARRIAGE HOUSE.

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Tales of the Trade

A sad tale and a caution: Caveat emptor.

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March, 2005

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March snowfall -- beautiful, but when is enough enough?

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This Month's Newsletter

We had hoped to open this month's newsletter with a scene of snowdrops poking out of the ground and buds popping from the branches of trees. Instead, the best we can do is share pictures of the two feet of snow that have fallen in Pumpkin Hollow during the past week. White fluffiness notwithstanding, we're sustained by the anticipation of five major antiques events in England which we'll attend next month and, of course, by the promise of Brimfield and Rhinebeck, both little more than a month away.

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This Month's Feature

This month we offer the tenth in our twelve-part pictorial series on the restoration of our home. Work on the outbuildings continues with OUTBUILDINGS: SHED, MILK HOUSE, AND BARN

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Tales of the Trade

Anyone who attends indoor, papered-wall antiques shows will have a pretty good idea of what is involved in setting up a booth. Less obvious, perhaps, is the process of getting merchandise from home to the show venue and bringing unsold items back home after the show. As members of the profession that "moves house" two or three times a month, we offer this true story of the travails of a recent antiques show. Click for The Sixty-three Inch Court Cupboard.

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Bonus for Beer Lovers

For a report on our recent dinner with Michael Jackson, click HERE.

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April, 2005

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This Month

As the picture above suggests, we've just returned from our annual April buying trip in England. We had planned to post this newsletter last Tuesday, but have spent much of the past week on the phone with FedEx, attempting to get our shipment from Memphis to Conway.. All we can say is that, if the concerns of US Customs, the FDA, and the Department of Fish and Wildlife are any indication, this will be our most interesting shipment so far.

All kidding aside, this week has been one of the most discouraging of our business career. We've spent many hours on the phone, mostly trying to communicate with unseen guardians of the public safety -- people who believe that 18th century horn beakers are a threat to the national wellbeing. As annoying as the process has been, it's terrifying to stop and consider that these folks are entrusted with our safety.

Now that the crisis is behind us, we've continued to speculate on possible reasons for the inordinate delay of such an innocent shipment and to try to recover from the anger and frustration we've felt all week. The result is an imaginary news story describing one one plausible sequence of events. Click the link to read about The Great Horn Beaker Caper.

As we go to press we're busily cleaning, shining, cataloging, and pricing our new stock. Consequently, this month's newsletter contains no New Inventory section. But, we'll have everything ready for viewing in time for our Gala Spring Opening on April 30th and May 1st. More details will be found below.

At the end of our visit to England, after our last stop at our shippers, we drove to Cornwall for the beginning of a four-day sojourn in the South and Southwest of England. This month's newsletter contains a few of the best of the several hundred pictures we took. Click here for a look at springtime in one of the most beautiful parts of the world.

On the recommendation of our friends Bob and Barbara Bettcher, we visited the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum, near Chichester. This remarkable collection of historic buildings spans seven centuries, and each has been reconstructed in an appropriate setting on a fifty-acre site in rural West Sussex. Capable staff welcome visitors in many of the buildings, and they appear to take delight in sharing the museum's history and atmosphere . We found our visit richly rewarding, both in terms of scholarship and beauty and recommend it highly. To visit the museum's website, click here.

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This Month's Feature

This month we offer the eleventh, and the most dramatic of our twelve-part pictorial series on the restoration of our home: RESTORING THE CUPOLA.

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Tales of the Trade

Have you ever been at an antiques show on the afternoon of the final day and been dismayed by dealers packing their merchandise before the advertised closing time? Years ago we drove seventy-five miles on a Sunday afternoon to visit at a large antiques center. When we arrived around 1:30 we were informed that we had only half an hour to shop, as the shop was closing early "because of the Super Bowl."

This month's Pet Peeves Department tells of two recent incidents in which closing early was the wrong choice.

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May, 2005

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Our shop on Friday night, April 29 -- ready for our Spring Opening on Saturday morning

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Since our last newsletter.....

.....two things have occupied most of our attention. First, our Spring Opening was especially successful. Shoppers came from five states, as did neighbors from Conway and many of the small towns that surround us. Buyers rewarded our efforts as they added to their collections. Conversation was upbeat, and most customers were able to put the country's economic woes behind them for a few minutes at least.

Our Brimfield week was a great success. On the selling side, we brought a mix of affordable, low-to-middle range things and a few high-end smalls. We sold across the entire range, from outstanding 17th century pieces to odds and ends gleaned from the corners of our barn. Buying was very good as well. The best pieces we brought home with us will be seen in our booth at Rhinebeck this weekend.

Finally, we've made a few subtle changes in our website, including several new pictures of the shop and larger thumbnails. We consider them improvements and hope that you do, too.

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This Month's Feature

This month we offer the twelfth and final installment of our twelve-part pictorial series on the restoration of our home. Click to read GARDEN AND FRONT DOOR.

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Tales of the Trade

The saga of the sixty-three inch court cupboard (March Newsletter) continues. Click here for the final chapter.

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June, 2005

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A Fall wedding in the mowing beside our shop.

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Since our last newsletter.....

......we've done quite a bit of buying. A very rewarding buying trip to Maine and New Hampshire was followed by a well-spent morning at the Farmington show. Our pickers continue to appear regularly, and local auctions have yielded a few pleasant surprises. On the selling side, we had a very good Rhinebeck show, an exceptional response to the inventory presented in last month's newsletter, and business in our shop has begun to come out of the winter doldrums.

Thanks to those of you who wrote after the last installment of our year-long chronicle of the restoration of our house. We hope that during the fall and winter months we can feature images of the interior as it is today.

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This Month's Feature

We've recently spent four days at the Spring Rhinebeck show. Click here for There's No Business Like Show Business, a pictorial essay on how we plan and set up our booth at this great show.

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Tales of the Trade

Click here for this month's entry, an editorial on the negative effect of Early Buying on antiques shows.

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July, 2005

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Conway's fledgling Wednesday afternoon farmer's market on the Pumpkin Hollow Common

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Since our last newsletter. . . . .

. . . . . . it seems that we've either been at a show or getting ready for one. Our first outing in Brewster exceeded our expectations; sales were good, and, despite record-breaking heat on the mainland, a cooling breeze kept us relatively comfortable all day.  On the Saturday of Brimfield week, after exhibiting at two shows during the week,  we traveled to Dorset, VT. A week later, we exhibited at an unexpected last-minute opportunity in Fitzwilliam (see Tales of the Trade, below), and Friday and Saturday of this week we were at Rhinebeck. At Brimfield we roasted on Monday and Tuesday, nearly drowned on Wednesday, and wore jackets in fifty degree temperatures on Thursday. Two days later, in Dorset we set up and broke down in downpours, though the weather was kinder to all during show hours. Fitzwilliam was dry, despite reports of downpours in nearby towns. Fortunately, the predicted heat and humidity broke in time for Rhinebeck; the large (though thrifty) crowd enjoyed a near-idyllic day.

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This Month's Feature

We've taken time this summer to discover more of the land around us. We've tried to capture some of its beauty in a series of photographs. We invite you to travel with us on the road between Conway and Shelburne. Click here for a relaxing trip through the summer countryside.

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Tales of the Trade

After three shows the week before, we had planned a quiet Saturday in the shop on the 16th. To learn how we ended up in Fitzwilliam NH instead, click here.

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August, 2005

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A small flying machine buzzes our barn on an idyllic Summer afternoon

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Shows and Shop

It's been a most interesting month. The Little Compton and Mystic shows refused to deliver as we had hoped. For us and for most of the shows' other upper-end dealers, sales were off by as much as half as shoppers appeared reluctant to part with their money. Fortunately, business in our shop enjoyed a healthy burst, both from local customers, vacationers, and dealers from far away places. New Hampshire Antiques Week was quite good for us; we stayed at home, avoiding travel expenses and show rents, and several buyers visited us on their way to and from the surfeit of shows in Manchester.

Fortunately, as many dealers are reassessing what they buy and have been holding back at shows and auctions, we've been able to buy some outstanding furniture and smalls at very good prices. Some of these are listed below.

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This Month's Feature

Last month's feature, From Conway to Shelburne, generated so many positive reactions (actually, five e-mails, but that's more than enough encouragement for us) that this month we offer an encore presentation of Conway scenes. To travel with us to Cricket Hill, Roaring Brook Road, Poland, and Shirkshire, click here.

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Tales of the Trade

This month a story of a midsummer night's near-nightmare. Click here.

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September, 2005

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Winter approaches

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Since last month's newsletter . . . .

. . . Brimfield was pretty much a flop. Between our sagging economy (despite claims from Washington), shocking images from New Orleans, and the escalating cost of gasoline, buyers (and sellers) stayed home in droves. And most who came kept their hands in their pockets.

Brimfield: Dealer's Choice just before opening

On Saturday, Antiques in a Cow Pasture -- the grandfather of summer antiques shows -- was equally flat. Thanks to a few old friends we hadn't seen for a while, our day ended up well above average, but reports from other dealers suggest that the sagging economy is taking its toll.

Our booth in the cow pasture

 

The Vermont ADA show was one of our best this year.

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This Month's Feature

For those of you who are tired of looking at pictures of Conway, this month we offer an inside look at our "other" business -- being the Internet's prime source for back issues of The Magazine Antiques, for decades the antiques trade's premier journal. Click here for the inside story.

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Thinking about hearth cooking this Winter?

We've revised last September's essay on hearth cooking. It includes a few hints and a basic bibliography. If you missed it or want a second look, click here.

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Tales of the Trade

The perils of pre-show: a misunderstanding and a near-catastrophe. Click here.

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New this month -- The back page

Beginning with this issue of our monthly newsletter, we plan to reward our readers with some non sequitur, meant to pique the brain, the funnybone, or some place in between. For this wholly serendipitous inaugural entry, it seems appropriate to begin with beer. Click here for this month's Back Page.

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October, 2005

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One of many quiet country roads in England on which we traveled in our quest for exciting new stock for our November opening.

Tough work, but someone has to do it!

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Since last month's newsletter . . . . . . .

On Monday, October 10, the day after Rhinebeck, we set off on a two-week trip to Europe. Following the usual agenda for our April and October trips, we planned to spend a week or so in England, buying at fairs and from the circle of dealers with whom we've established relations, then travel to the Continent for a few days of vacation. After booking our England connections, we purchased airline tickets and reserved six nights in the Hotel Brouwer in Amsterdam, a 17th century house on the Singel that has been restored and now offers bed and breakfast at a very reasonable price.

As things evolved, buying in England was much more difficult than usual.  The word from England is no different from the US: sales of antiques are very slow, yet good merchandise is scarce, and what there is is often quite expensive. One furniture dealer who is in a very active shop on the Welsh border told us that in the entire month of September he had sold absolutely nothing. An experienced London jewelry dealer from whom we've been buying for years told us that her only good shows these days are in Miami and Las Vegas!

Nonetheless, we doggedly pursued old and new sources for the kinds of antiques that we love and that our customers have come to expect from us. In the end, because our buying in England was so limited, we spent much of our planned Amsterdam vacation in shops and markets, searching out new sources -- a change in plans, though not exactly a hardship! We're happy to say that we enjoyed great success, and as we write on the eve of our return to the US, we're feeling very good about the trip.

We invite you to judge for yourselves, as our bounty will be on display in our shop on November 12th and 13th. You'll find complete details below.

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This Month's Feature

In this issue we begin a two-part sequel to the story of the restoration of our home in Conway. We invite you to compare before and after photos of the exterior of the house and barns in: Our Conway Home -- then and now: Part I: exteriors.

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Tales of the Trade

What's in a name? Click here for an interesting tale of name transmogrification.

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The back page

 Click here for this month's Back Page.

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November, 2005

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One of our galleries around bedtime on the Friday preceding our very successful November Opening.

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Since last month's newsletter . . . . . . .

we've kept ourselves busy preparing our shop and our new stock for the gala opening which was attended by scores of regulars as well as a few first-timers. Although the shop was never empty all day Saturday, we were still able to enjoy conversations with many of our friends. A special 'thank you' to all of you who came and made this our best show of 2005.

The Wethersfield Show continues to grow in quality and attendance. One buyer was heard to remark, "Tolland has been my favorite show, but Wethersfield is even better." Though not all dealers were thrilled with their sales, this time we were among the fortunate.

As this newsletter goes out, we're packed and ready to leave for the Pound Ridge, NY show, where we hope to see many of our old friends from Westport and Wilton. More information and a printable discount coupon are available through the link below.

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This Month's Feature

In this issue we begin a two-part sequel to the story of the restoration of our home in Conway. We invite you to compare before and after photos of the interior of our house in: Our Conway Home -- then and now: Part II: interiors.

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Tales of the Trade

What if someone came into the shop and wrote you one check for EVERYTHING in stock? A dealer's dream? Well, it almost happened to us several years ago. Click here for the whole story.

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The back page

 This month's Back Page provides a fitting end to this month's newsletter.

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December, 2005

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Sincerest wishes for a wonderful holiday season

and all the best in the coming year.

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A treasured Christmas gift from Linda McDaniel, neighbor and friend.

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As the year ends . . . . . . .

... and we scurry about, trying to keep the shop full of surprises and prepare for the holiday season, we pause for a moment to reflect on the successes of 2005. Though shows were noticeably softer for most in our trade -- and ours were no exception -- we had our share of excellent ones. While other dealers steered clear of large pieces of furniture, we bought wood thoughtfully but aggressively, and most of our choices quickly went on to new homes. Shop sales were also down somewhat, but there were banner months, and November showed a marked upswing, fed by a very successful post-Europe opening.

We view it all as a reassuring sign that our conservative approach to our business is a good match for the times. As the year draws to a close, we reaffirm our gratitude to you, our customers, and we promise to continue to try to entice you to visit. Warm wishes.

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This Month's Feature

This month we offer a few of the many photographs we took during our October visit to Amsterdam. Click here.

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Tales of the Trade

A story of fate lending a hand to commerce. Click for The Hand of Fate.

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The Back Page

 This month's Back Page conveys our best wishes to all for a happy holiday season.

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