Jan and John Maggs Antiques

Conway, Massachusetts

Newsletters - 2006


An approaching sunset, viewed from a hilltop in nearby Ashfield

This month's issue is our 24th, marking the end of our second year. Thanks for being readers, and special thanks to those of you who have given us feedback. We love to hear from you, either by e-mail or in person. 

As the new year begins we're planning our schedule of activities for 2006. On the strength of the success of our November opening, we plan to return to England again in April. Our show schedule will be roughly the same as last year, though conflicts will prevent us from selling at the monthly Portsmouth NH markets that we enjoy so much. Likewise, we'll be in Europe the weekend of the Danielson show. In the plus column, Country Cape has announced a new show in New London in March, details of which can be found below.

As in the past, our OPEN flag will wave on those Sundays we're in Conway and we'll happily open by appointment at other times.

This Month's Feature

In February 1998 our home was photographed for a featured article in Country Home magazine. We've been given permission to reprint it in our newsletter. To read the piece, click here.

Tales of the Trade

For a true story of intrigue and deception, click here.

The Back Page

 Click here to see this month's Back Page .


This property could be yours!!

Our big news this month is that, after twenty years of hard work and loving care, we are about to offer our Conway home for sale.

Just over a year ago we purchased a large parcel of land in neighboring Ashfield. The property is the last unimproved portion of what was in 1900 a 1000-acre dairy farm. The parcel is densely wooded and contains at least two small streams which flow into the brook that forms our southern boundary. Last winter we cleared a six-acre building site and turned scores of large spruce, hemlock, and pine trees into the lumber from which we're building a small barn, a small antiques shop, a porch, and a garage. These four buildings will complement the central structure on the property -- the modest cape that will be built for us and will become our new home.

Our home in Conway will go on the market in early March. The house, built in successive stages from about 1760 through the late nineteenth century, dominates Pumpkin Hollow common, the historic center of Conway. We are surrounded by protected pasture land on the north and west, and look out of our south windows at an early graveyard.

The house itself has about 3600 square feet of living space, including a large keeping room, a cook's kitchen with restaurant stove, two formal parlors, four bedrooms, three baths, three pantries (!), and five working fireplaces, including a walk-in fireplace with beehive oven in the keeping room. A pair of French doors in the kitchen leads to an eighteenth century post-and-beam barn that we converted into a screened/glazed porch (heaven in the summertime). In 1998 we built a two-car garage, which joins the house to the outbuildings.

The first outbuilding consists of two early 20th century sheds, which we've enclosed and insulated and now use as a woodworking shop. The shop leads to the magnificent barn that dominates the valley. Our antiques shop, which uses less than one quarter of the barn, contains our principal showroom and an office. Both are insulated and heated. The barn has a full basement, a second floor, and ample space for a third above it.

We developed the property as our business was growing, so the various barn spaces are tailored to our needs. Because they are large, they might easily be adapted to myriad alternate uses: a studio and display space for an artist or artisan, a shop complex (perhaps even for another antiques dealer), a bed and breakfast, or ....?

If you know of someone who is looking for a well-maintained property like ours, in a community with outstanding schools and friendly neighbors, suggest that they call or e-mail us. We are being represented by one of the areas leading realtors, who lives in Conway and happens to be a good friend and customer as well. We invite serious inquiries, and will be happy to answer your questions. (See This Month's Feature, below, for new pictures of the interior.)

This Month's Feature

This month we offer a few views of the interior of our Conway home. Click here.

Tales of the Trade

As many of you have heard, the "Blizzard of 06" forced cancellation of Paul Davis' Concord Show. For an inside look at events leading up to the cancellation, click here.

The Back Page

 Click here.


Since last month's newsletter . . . .

our life has been more hectic than usual. Although the shop has been quiet, online sales have remained steady. Working at our Ashfield property whenever time and weather permit, we've cleared another acre or two, milled all of the lumber for our outbuildings, porch, and garage, burned tons of brush and tree tops, and framed our small barn. Discussions with our builder are ongoing, and each conference brings us closer to the final plan for the house.

On the antiques front, the New London show was well-attended for a first time show (see story below), and we were able to buy several good antiques, many of which are listed in this newsletter. We depart in a few days for a short buying trip to England, which will be followed by our usual festive opening in the shop on April 22 and 23 (details below).

Meanwhile, our home in Conway has been shown to a handful of prospective buyers during its first two weeks on the market. If you missed last month's house pictures, Click here.

This Month's Feature

Earlier this month we took a chance on a new Country Cape show in Connecticut. Click here to learn how it went.

Tales of the Trade

At a recent antiques show in Westchester County, we had the opportunity to purchase a few antiques from a local home. When we visited the home we found that the owners were even more interesting than their antiques. Click here for the whole story.

The Back Page

Click here for this month's Back Page.



A few of the shoppers who made our Fall 2005 opening a resounding success

See details of this month's opening, below.

Since last month's newsletter . . . .

....we've been to England and back.

Although England's weather was fairly bleak during our stay, we're not sorry to have missed the snow that fell on Western Massachusetts on Jan's birthday. As usual, we worked non-stop all day, then relaxed in neighborhood pubs at suppertime. Showings of our home continued while we were away, and now that we're back, we're again on our best behavior as housekeepers.

Buying opportunities in England were better than we had anticipated. Consequently, we were able to import several small pieces of furniture as well as a serious infusion of jewelry and smalls. Our shipment from England arrived on the 12th, so between now and its unveiling we'll spend most of our time getting ready for our Spring Opening in the shop on the 22nd . (See details below.)

This Month's Feature

Our semi-annual buying trips to England are not only the high points of our business year. They also give us a break from the quasi-routine of life in Conway and Ashfield. For those of you who have expressed the desire to visit the UK, we offer this month the first installment of a four-part series of tips for American travelers in the UK. Those of us who know us will not be surprised to hear that the first two installments are about good beer and good food. Click here for a brief essay on English ales.

Tales of the Trade

Three tales this month.

The first is a frightening story of violence against a pair of London jewelry dealers. Click to read A London Tragedy.

Second is a brief tale chronicling the meandering voyage of our most recent shipment from London. Click for FedEx BooBoo.

Finally, The Cradle Conundrum has been resolved. The cradle in queation, which had been in our shop for more than a year, was purchased by a local collector.

The Back Page

This month's Back Page continues the pub theme. Click here for a curious contradiction.


Since last month's newsletter . . . .

Our April opening was a grand success. Saturday morning saw a lively group of buyers, and we were still in the shop at 6:30 on Sunday evening. We're grateful to all who came, helped us to celebrate, and found things to enhance their collections. We're happy to say that we still have plenty of things left from the trip, many of which appear in this month's New Inventory section.

The Concord show, rescheduled after a snow-related February cancellation, was one of our best shows in many months, led by very strong jewelry sales and an outstanding painting by Dennis Sheehan. Several other dealers reported strong sales as well, though not every dealer was so elated. We saw Paul Davis at Brimfield this week, and he informed us that most of the show's dealers prefer the earlier date, despite the inconvenience and uncertainty of winter weather. Consequently, the 2007 Concord show will return to its traditional February date.

As usual, huge crowds came to May Brimfield. The owners of Dealer's Choice claimed a gate of over three thousand buyers at its Tuesday show. We loaded our van with scores of small, not-in-inventory objects that have been stored in our barn for a decade or two and brought only a few of them home. May's was also heavily attended, but, while many dealers reported very good sales, our show was disappointing (though not as much so as the doll dealer in the next booth, who reported a gross of $325 and no sale over $20.00!).

Business continues to be uncertain, though events of the past few weeks inspire optimism.

This Month's Feature

This month, the second installment in our series on travel in the UK: Pub Dining

Tales of the Trade

On our recent trip to England we made the acquaintance of a fifth-generation British antiques dealer. How this happened vividly demonstrates the role of chance in our business. Click for A Chance Encounter.

The Back Page

Click here for his month's Back Page -- a curious duo spotted at Brimfield last week.


Since last month's newsletter . . . .

we've had the best month in over a year and a half. Rhinebeck was exceptional, as was the response of readers to last month's newsletter. Three weeks ago the shop looked empty; furniture and smalls were in short supply. Fortunately, we were able to buy very well at the New Hampshire Dealers' Blue Ribbon show and at Farmington. Two mid-week buying trips to shops in nearby states and a few pieces from collections, and we're in business again -- as the listing of some of our new inventory (below) will illustrate.

But our most earth-shattering news is that we've decided to take our home and shop off of the market. After three months of looking for "the perfect buyer" for this complex and sprawling property, we realized that the perfect buyer was us! Our Ashfield property -- 114 wooded acres with streams and logging trails, a cleared six-acre building lot, a quarter-mile driveway, a well, septic plan, and a small barn, which we plan to finish this summer -- has been listed by our friend and realtor, Dennis Delap. We're very happy about the decision, not only because it allows us to stay in the home that we created for ourselves with our own hands, but also because it allows us to stay in touch with friends and customers for whom our Conway shop is an important part of our relationship.

This Month's Feature

This month, the third installment in our series on travel in the UK: Driving in England

Antiques Word of the Month

What do we mean when we say that a highboy is "married"?

Tales of the Trade

This month: a tale of loss, recovery, and reincarnation. Overstated? Perhaps. But, decide for yourself by reading the true story of The Lost Painting.

The Back Page

Click here to see a curiosity we recently spotted in a Maine shop.


Since last month's newsletter . . . .

. . . . we've received dozens of e-mails and calls reacting to our decision to take our home off of the market and stay here in Conway. The unfailingly positive response of our customers and friends has made us more certain than ever that our decision was the right one. We've begun instituting a few of the changes we had envisioned for our new home and workplace (an air conditioner for our office quickly found its way to the top of the list). Heartfelt thanks to all who wrote or called.

We've had serious interest in the land on which we had planned to build, but at this writing, it's still available. Anyone with interest in this very beautiful parcel of over one hundred acres in nearby Ashfield might drop us an e-mail.

Brimfield was very slow, and it appeared to us that most fields were less than half filled. Selling was correspondingly slow, although buying was quite good -- largely due to the lessening of competition. Our sales at Hildene and Rhinebeck, on the other hand, were better than usual for us, though not everyone was as happy at the end of either show as we were.

As activity in our shop has continued to be strong as well, we're redoubling our efforts to keep well-stocked with fresh things. To expedite your planning, this month we've added a calendar of our weekend hours to our website that may be accessed from our newsletter or from the welcome page of our website. Now, at least, when people ask "what are your hours?", we'll be able to give a cogent answer.

Those who remember Toby, our guard cat, who died of diabetes last winter, may be happy to learn that we have a new pet. For the story and a picture, click HERE.

This Month's Feature

This month, the final installment in our series on travel in the UK: Travel Tips

Next month we begin a multi-part pictorial on our Ashfield project -- with lots of pictures.

Antiques Word of the Month

Everyone knows snuff as a form of tobacco. The term is somewhat more elusive when applied to traditional lighting. What does it mean "to snuff" a candle? Click HERE to become even more confused.

Tales of the Trade

This month's tale concerns a stranger-than-fiction coincidence that occurred in our shop this month. Click for A Perfect Circle.

The Back Page

Click here for a visit to Cape Cod.


Dusk following the violent storm that broke our early August heat wave.

Since last month's newsletter . . . .

. . . . we've received e-mails from friends in Maine to southern California, as well as from many places in between, reacting to the picture of our new feline family member, Pippin. In this month's newsletter we've posted a few recent images. Use this LINK to see them.

Our weekend in Little Compton, Rhode Island was very successful, beginning with the seven pieces of furniture we bought on the way down and at the show, and extending through both Friday evening's preview party and Saturday's show hours, when our sales were very strong. Fortunately, we sold a couple of large pieces, which made room in our van and trailer for our new purchases. Being able to acquire good, fresh merchandise at the right price is crucial to our business. As one pundit put it, "You can't sell from an empty truck."

We're pleased to report that Lisa Freeman, in her column "Websites that Work" in the August 2006 "New England Antiques Journal" (NEAJ), mentions our monthly newsletter. We're complimented to be named in Lisa's thoughtful essay, next to "Acorns", the Fiske and Freeman newsletter published periodically on the web by Lisa and her husband John Fiske, who is also the editor of NEAJ.

Because our newsletter has become such an important aspect of our business, we're constantly working to expand and improve it. This month we're launching a new welcome page and expanded galleries, which will showcase a higher percentage of our stock than ever before. Our goal is to have at least 80 percent of our inventory on line by the end of the year. Use the link at the bottom of this newsletter to visit our expanding website.

Though we can't always take the time to answer them, we deeply appreciate your e-mails and are rewarded as well when readers take a moment at a show to identify themselves. Without you, none of this would make sense.


This Month's Feature

This month, the first of five installments of pictures of our Ashfield property:  Chapter 1: Discovering the Land -- April 2004 to January 2005.

Antiques Word of the Month

This month, a piece of early Scottish jewelry that found its way to the new world: the Luckenbooth brooch.

Tales of the Trade

A bridesmaid becomes a bride in this month's tale of The Georgian Dressing Mirror.

The Back Page

A newly acquired hutch table finds an unanticipated use. Click HERE for a look.


A hot air balloon makes a landing on a misty September morning.

Since last month's newsletter . . . .

. . . the Vermont ADA show was our best outing in several months. We sold six pieces of furniture (unheard of), five paintings (WOW), and several smalls. Not all dealers were as elated as we were when the show closed at 4:00 on Sunday, though several reported sales of significant pieces.

Our other September shows might be best described as  lackluster. Three appearances at Brimfield, even with entirely different stock at each, added up to one average show in "the good old days." On the following Sunday Antiques in a Cow Pasture was not very well attended, and our sales were soft, though better than any of our single Brimfield shows. The Newport show? . . . the less said, the better!

This Saturday will be our seventh (and last) show in September. We've saved a few fresh things for our first appearance at the Golden Ball Tavern Show, and we hope to end the month on a high note. Next September will be far less busy than this year, as we plan to drop at least two of this month's shows. Look for our 2007 show schedule in our November newsletter.

Our shop, by contrast, has been very busy, despite our chronic absence on these September weekends. Our website and this newsletter continue to bring us new customers and sustain relationships with those of you who can't easily get to the shop. Thanks to all.

On October 1, Antiques and the Arts Weekly (The Bee) launches its online edition. Print subscribers may gain free access by registering on the paper's website, while non-subscribers may subscribe to the online edition for $50.00 a year. Congratulations to Scudder Smith and the staff at the Bee for taking this significant step.

This Month's Feature

This month, the second of five installments of Our Ashfield OdysseyChapter 2: First Winter -- January to May 2005


Tales of the Trade

A brief sequel to last month's Back Page, Hutch Table II.

The Back Page

An interesting antique appears at a New Hampshire show. Click here to see it.


Waiting for a boarding announcement at Heathrow -- wishing to be home.

Since last month's newsletter . . . .

. . . . we've enjoyed a two-week buying trip to England and the Netherlands. We arrived home early on Tuesday morning the 24th, and our shipment of English antiques arrived before noon on the same day. When we're not working on this newsletter, we're getting our new acquisitions ready for our gala Fall Opening in our shop on November 4 and 5. Full details are available by clicking HERE.

We had an outstanding Rhinebeck, possibly our best ever, and a rewarding conclusion to our insane run of seven shows in five weeks. After packing out of the show, we arrived home late Sunday night, and left for Boston and Europe on Monday.

Those who wrote to express disappointment about the absence of Pippin from last month's newsletter may be happy to see that we've given him a place on the Views of Our Shop page, where he joins our beloved Toby. Periodically, as he grows up, we'll try to change his picture, so you may wish to check in from time to time. Click Our Showrooms, either here or on our home page.

We received news this week that Dave and Karen Garside, the new owners of Country Cape Antiques Shows, have decided not to continue. Those of us who have enjoyed the Mystic show and their other venues are disappointed.  In a letter to dealers, Dave and Karen announced their intention to sell the shows. Perhaps some energetic, capable soul will step forward and keep this fine little show circuit alive. Like to be a show manager?

This Month's Feature

This month, the third installment of Our Ashfield OdysseyChapter 3: Promise of Spring -- May to October 2005


Tales of the Trade

At the VADA show last month, we were allowed to be part of a touching family drama involving a Dutch Onion Bottle.

The Back Page

Our barn, a Conway landmark, has been painted many times by local artists. But never has it been treated with such warmth and humor as in this alternate view of our place of business, seen through the eyes of a loyal fan. Click here.


Our shop on the eve of our November Opening.

Since last month's newsletter . . . .

We've had our most successful post-England opening in recent years. Even with an eager crowd of opening-moment buyers, Saturday and Sunday were nicely paced, allowing ample time for us to chat with friends and for shoppers to peruse our new stock without pressure. For a few pictures of the shop prior to opening, click here. Sales were very good, perhaps the strongest in several years, but many choice pieces remained at the end of the day on Sunday. The new inventory listings below highlight some of the best.

We've had some good press this month. The wonderful painting by Virginia Precourt that appeared as last month's Back Page can be seen on the cover of this month's Boston Panorama. And, in this month's New England Antiques Journal, in John Fiske's Show Stoppers and Great Starters, you'll find the little Bellarmine jug we sold at the Vermont ADA show.

The Wethersfield show, already a fine event, continues to improve in quality. Several dealers had very good shows, and all had an enjoyable two days, thanks to the accessible location and very friendly and helpful sponsors. Special thanks to co-chairs Tim Verre and Joan Hughes for making it such a pleasant event for dealers.

We've just finished building new storage for our immense inventory of back issues of The Magazine Antiques. We believe that it's safe to maintain that we have the world's largest and most comprehensive inventory of back issues and that we provide a service to collectors and researchers unparalleled anywhere. Call the offices of Antiques Magazine and ask about back issues. They'll probably refer you to our website. To view our current inventory of more than seven thousand copies, click HERE.

This Month's Feature

This month, the fourth installment of Our Ashfield OdysseyChapter 4: A Structure Begins to Take Shape -- Fall and Winter 2005 - 6.

Tales of the Trade

A cupboard, a dealer, and two buyers. Read what happened in Client/Customer Relations 101.

The Back Page

Last month's Back Page was a fanciful contemporary painting by our dear friend Virginia Precourt. This month's Back Page features another view of our barn from the same perspective, from the Rotogravure section of a mid-20th century Springfield Republican.


We wish all of our friends and customers a most joyous holiday season .

Since last month's newsletter . . . .

. . . . we've begun getting our home and shop ready for the holidays. We'll be open every weekend through the 23rd from 10:00 until 4:00, and we hope that those nearby will plan to drop in for cider or tea and a sweet. Click here for a complete schedule.

Last week we received an e-mail from dealer friends in the UK who once operated an antiques shop in Ross-on-Wye, a few doors away from Robin Lloyd, whose reputation had first lured us to Ross in the 1990's. Their comments paint a dreary picture of the antiques trade in England.

The antique business seems to be more and more polarized in a few towns and fairs. Only Robin Lloyd [is] of any use in Ross on Wye and he has his shop up for sale. I can remember the time 30 years ago when he was reckoned to be the best trade call in the country.

Here at home, our biggest news is that we've just accepted an offer on our acreage in Ashfield. We're very pleased, especially as the new buyers seem to share our love of this beautiful property, upon which they plan to build a home.

This Month's Feature

This month, the final installment of Our Ashfield Odyssey -- The Last Chapter -- Spring and Summer 2006

Tales of the Trade

This month, a true tale from our Just why is it you go to antiques shows? department -- The PERFECT Table.

The Back Page

This month's Back Page is a holiday present from our young feline, Pippin. Click here.