Jan and John Maggs Antiques

Conway, Massachusetts

Newsletters - 2008

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January, 2008

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HAPPY NEW YEAR - and heartfelt thanks to all who helped make 2007 such a good year for us. With our Ashfield project behind us we were able to devote our full attention to business and make a few improvements to our Conway home. Although not all of our shows were as strong as we might have wished, the downers were offset by a couple of exceptionally strong shows and above-average shop and Internet sales. For the new year we've trimmed our schedule to just over a dozen shows - down from nearly forty just a few years ago! Like many other dealers in these uncertain economic times, we're trimming in an attempt to find the right balance between shows and other marketing areas.

Partly to that end, we've given our website a new look. Encouraged by the response to the new format of our December Newsletter, we've used pictures, rather than words, to link to stock. Consequently, pages are shorter in length, and much more is visible at one time. We hope that you'll find this a pleasant change.

This Newsletter marks the end of four years of uninterrupted monthlies. We appreciate all of the feedback we've received over the years, and we hope that our readers will continue to find this publication interesting and useful.

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This month's Feature

More about our other business - back issues of The Magazine Antiques. A recent purchase asks the question: When Is Enough Enough?

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Tales of the Trade

This month we look at an alternate approach to marketing. Click the underlined text to read Mark it up!

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The Back Page

This month's back page is the holiday greeting sent to us by a good friend. CLICK HERE.

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Pippin's Page

For proof that Christmas is for all ages, CLICK HERE.

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February, 2008

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Our decision to close our shop from late December through mid-February appears to have been a good one. Our website has generated about the same amount of business that usually trickles into the shop during these sleepy winter months, and we've enjoyed three good shows since the first of the year. We're happy to be able to say that 2008 appears to have gotten off to a good start.

Our show schedule for 2008 contains a few changes from last year. We replaced Americana at the Piers with The Greater Boston Antiques Festival, dropped the Mount Hope show in June, and have added two new shows: the New Guilford Antiques Show in April, managed by Frank Gaglio, and Antiques al Fresco in Darien, CT in June, managed by Ferguson and d'Arruda .

Our shop reopened last weekend and will now be open every weekend until Easter, when we'll close for three weeks for the holiday and our annual Spring buying trip to England. Our Post-England Gala will be held on the weekend of April 26 & 27.

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This Month's Feature

As most of you know, for several years we've made semiannual buying trips to England, shopping for antiques and enjoying daily life in that beloved nation. We've come to know our favorite haunts and people so well that each visit feels like "going home." This has not always been the case.

Recently, we found and began to re-read the journal of our first trip, in October 1993. We felt that some of our readers might enjoy reading of the experiences of two novices, visitors to a strange, new land. Beginning with this month's Newsletter we invite you to discover England with us as we did together. The first installment is called Our first visit to London.

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Tales of the Trade

What do you do when your best show is unexpectedly cancelled? Last month we faced that question, making an expedient choice for the short term as well as an interesting discovery for the long term . Click here for The Pier or not the Pier?

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The Back Page

Thumbing through back issues of The Magazine Antiques, we came across this advertisement and experienced a strange case of deja vu. Click here.

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Pippin's Page

About three weeks ago Jan found a piece of black cord in a bag of fabric. Knowing that we had no use for it, she decided to share it with Pippin. Perhaps because he is having a serious case of cabin fever, he has become obsessed with the string, bringing it to us wherever we are and scolding us until we play with him and his string. Click here for a few pictures of Pippin and his new toy.

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 March, 2008

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Our refurbished office - ready for Spring

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Since last month's newsletter . . . .

. . . . we spent much of January and February refurbishing our office -  removing interior walls and other obstructions. The result - an airy, open space in which we can work in comfort and communicate easily with each other.

The snow piles outside our garage have begun to shrink from their eight-foot height, and the frozen walls that lined the entrance to our house have started to recede. With no shows since early in February, business has been quiet, enlivened by an occasional e-mail, appointment, or drop-in. Except for the snow, it's been a very civilized Winter.

We're beginning to see signs of Spring arriving in Conway: huge piles of dirty snow, tufts of brown grass emerging from beneath the white fields, a shift in the bird population, and workers collecting sap from the maple trees that line virtually every road in town. We're looking forward to our upcoming buying trip in England and the resumption of our show schedule when we return in early April. We're ready for Spring!

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This Month's Feature

This month, another installment of the journal written on our first buying trip to England, in 1993. Join us on our first visit to Birmingham.

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Tales of the Trade

An improbable event reaches a happy conclusion, thanks to the kindness of a neighbor. Read The World (Sometimes) On Time

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Pippin's Page

What's the highest point in our keeping room? Click here.

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The Back Page

Click here

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April, 2008

Volume 5, number 3

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View from our office - is Spring on its way?

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Since last month's newsletter . . . .

. . . . we've enjoyed a week and a half in England, searching for fresh English and Continental antiques. Even with our quite conservative mindset, we were able to assemble an interesting and varied shipment, which we'll combine with a few outstanding European pieces we've found in this country and kept under wraps for our Spring Post-England Gala at the end of this month. More information about this gala weekend may be found by clicking the link below in our Upcoming Shows section.

Show news

As the summer show season approaches, we'd like to highlight the shows we've added to our schedule for 2008. On April 19 and 20 we'll be returning to Guilford. This year's revamped Guilford show is in the hands of Frank Gaglio, and we're confident that it will regain its place as one of southern Connecticut's finest shows. Click the link below (Upcoming Shows) for more information.

Other new shows for us this year are: Antiques al Fresco, Ferguson & D'Arruda's Darien, CT show in a new location and on a new date - June 8; The Golden Ball Tavern Antiques Show, in Weston, MA on September 27; and Antiques in Vermont, in Manchester, VT on October 5. The Weston and Manchester additions are the result of the new date for the Vermont Antiques Dealers' Association Show, which will take place on August 23 and 24. Further information on these and all of our other shows will appear in this newsletter as their dates approach.

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This Month's Feature

Excerpts from our diary of our recent buying trip. Click here for a brief visit to the fairs and pubs of England.

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Tales of the Trade

Getting our three cents worth! - a short tale about banking.

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Pippin's Page

Click here if you're a fan of our little snow leopard.

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The Back Page

At Newark we spotted this fantastic Hepplewhite chest of drawers.

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May, 2008

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Happy Spring!

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Since last month's newsletter . . . .

In the hands of its new promoter, Frank Gaglio, the Guilford, CT antiques event was transformed. The many buyers who came all marveled at the improvement in quality of this long-running show, which had declined in recent years. Many dealers reported excellent sales, and we're confident that Guilford will regain its reputation as one of New England's most satisfying antiques venues. Use this link to read part of Laura Beach's coverage of  Guilford in "Antiques and the Arts Weekly".

Our April gala was a great success. Buyers came from all over New England, as well as from New York and Pennsylvania. Several had come to the shop for the first time, while many are "regulars." We had a delightful time chatting with buyers we haven't seen for a time as well as those we see more regularly. We're most grateful for the support of these friends. Click HERE for a few pictures of the shop before the buyers came.

We recently had the opportunity to buy privately several pieces from a fine collection of 17th and 18th century furnishings and have just returned from a trip to central Virginia. We made the journey home with our van and trailer packed with good, early things. We hope to publish some of these newest acquisitions in our June Newsletter.

BRIMFIELD happens this week. If you're thinking of going, click the following link for The Savvy Shopper's Guide to Brimfield.

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This Month's Feature

A visit to Lincoln Cathedral on our last trip to England. Click here to see some of the pictures we took.

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Tales of the Trade

An interesting adventure in Washington DC. Greetings from Camelot

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Pippin's Page

Click here for this month's picture of our little snow leopard.

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The Back Page

Flowers for our Gala

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June, 2008

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Since last month's newsletter . . . .

Whether or not it's a barometer of the antiques business, Brimfield was PACKED this Spring. Dealer's Choice had to be opened ten minutes early because the crowds were blocking the highway through town. Because we had just made two significant private purchases, we drove to the show on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday more from habit than from need and, as we would have predicted, bought very little. Nonetheless, the reports from sellers were generally quite positive, though we've not heard the same excitement from buyers we know.

A week later we were at Rhinebeck. Despite the perception of many sellers that the gate was lower than usual, most of our friends reported good sales. Although we sold no furniture, we had our best Rhinebeck in five years. The following week in the shop, our furniture doldrums enjoyed a reversal with the sale of five significant pieces.

Ferguson and d'Arruda's revamped and relocated Darien, CT show was, despite its beautiful setting in the shaded grounds surrounding Tilley Pond, not as well attended as one might have hoped. Whether it was the heat (near 100 degrees, culminating in fierce weather that closed the show half an hour early), or the stock market (set into another tailspin by an enormous increase in the cost of crude oil the Friday before), the show was generally flat, with some exceptions. Fortunately for us, we saw customers we've not seen since we dropped Wilton a few years ago and had a very pleasant day, made profitable by two very good sales. We plan to return next year and urge those within easy travel distance to come and enjoy this laid-back, quality antiques show.

We've just booked our Fall trip to England. We'll be in the United Kingdom in mid-October and expect our purchases to be in Conway in plenty of time for  our Fall Gala on November 8 - 9.

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This Month's Feature

Our readers who enjoyed the 1873 diary of Jennie Williams will share our excitement in learning of a second diary, written in 1876.

Click here for this latest news.

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Tales of the Trade

How an inquiry about The Magazine Antiques sent us to Virginia on a quest for new treasures. Click here for more.

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Pippin's Page

This month we celebrate the second anniversary of Pippin's arrival in our home.  Click here for "before and after" shots.

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The Back Page

Only at Brimfield

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July, 2008

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Since last month's newsletter . . . .

Farmington, with a new corporate partner, Country Home Magazine, yielded a few pleasant surprises. We arrived at the 8:00 a.m. opening time to find, as usual, only a handful of buyers. To our continuing amazement, although Early Buying ended several years ago, most shoppers still arrive at 10:00, the old general opening time. This is fine by us; it's far easier to shop when the field is empty. We were on our way home by 10:00, with three exceptional buys.

We were pleased to see a few upscale dealers at Farmington for the first time. When we asked one why he had come, his response was, "My big shows have been so disappointing, I thought I'd give this a try." We asked if it seemed to be a good decision, and his answer was guardedly optimistic. [Update: When we spoke with this same dealer at Brimfield last week, the report was quite different - one sale on Saturday ($110), none on Sunday.]

The week after Farmington we indulged a long-time fantasy. Since we've been exhibiting at Rhinebeck, each time we cross the Rhinecliff Bridge, which gets us from Rhinebeck to our hotel, we've been moved by the beauty of the Hudson River and fascinated by the railroad tracks that run along the river's eastern shore. Wouldn't it be fun, we thought, to take the train to Montreal? Last month we did just that, and this month's newsletter contains the first group of photographs we took during our trip. We hope you'll use the link below to join us on our Amtrak ride along the Hudson River and Lake Champlain.

We shopped July Brimfield, as usual, with some success. High temperatures and humidity significantly reduced the number of both sellers and buyers. Most sellers were less than ecstatic about their sales, but this tends to be the case at Brimfield in the summertime.

On the Saturday of Brimfield week we headed to Vermont for the Hildene show, which alternates annually with the Dorset show. We had a very good show, although most of our sales were to other exhibitors. The numbers of dealers and buyers was disappointing, but we enjoyed a beautiful Saturday in the Vermont hills.

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This Month's Feature

When we arrived home from last month's train trip to Montreal, we found that we had taken nearly 500 pictures. A few of the best can be seen by clicking the link below.

Our Sojourn in Montreal - The Hudson River and Lake Champlain

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Tales of the Trade

How we discovered Cafe Tamayo in Saugerties, NY, and why it's one of our favorite reataurants anywhere.

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Pippin's Page

A new playground for Pippin.

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The Back Page

Was it the weather, the economy, the cost of a gallon of gasoline, or a combination of the three? This month's Brimfield seemed to us the lightest we can recall, with most fields only about half filled. Click to see Wide open spaces at Brimfield.

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August, 2008

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MASSACHUSETTS TAX-FREE WEEKEND SALE

August 16 - 17

WHY SETTLE FOR A MERE 5%?

Saturday and Sunday, August 16 and 17 has been declared Massachusetts Sales Tax Holiday Weekend by the Massachusetts legislature. With the goal of stimulating business in the state, any item valued at $2500 or less purchased during the weekend will be exempt from sales tax. We feel that our business wouldn't be harmed by a little stimulation, so-o-o-o-o . . . . . .

We're going to sweeten the pot a bit by offering a 20% discount on EVERYTHING in our stock - including items on our website as well as things in the shop, AND, as an added bonus, we'll be offering reductions of up to 50% on several pieces that have been in the shop for long enough to make us think of them as "old friends". These special reductions will be posted on our website at 6:00 p.m. on Friday the 15th and will only be available during the weekend.

CLICK HERE after Friday at 6:00 to view specially reduced stock.

We'll be open all weekend - from 10:00 until 5:00 on both days - with sweets and snacks. If you'd rather shop online, we'll be happy to accept VISA/MasterCard charges throughout the weekend and hold purchases until you can come and pick them up (or let us ship to you, if that's more convenient), but payment must be made on either the 16th and 17th to be eligible for tax-free status.

If you've been thinking about something you've seen in a newsletter, on our website, at a show, or in our shop, take advantage of Mass. Tax Holiday Weekend!

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Since last month's newsletter . . . .

Let's start with last month's newsletter. At 3:21 on July 16, John sent a test copy of our newsletter from his computer to Jan's, something we always do to ensure that our links are functioning. Jan received the newsletter, clicked on the link, and was taken to the July newsletter. Two minutes later, at 3:23, the first batch of newsletters was sent; one of these e-mails was addressed to John. When it arrived at his computer, at 3:24, John checked the link and received a message saying that the URL could not be found, computer-speak for "can't find the newsletter." When the link to the newsletter failed, we tried to access our website. This failed, as well. We then placed a call to our Internet Service Provider - Speakeasy - a very reputable and usually reliable firm located in Seattle. Twenty minutes later we reached a live person, who informed us that Speakeasy was "experiencing problems."

If we had ever doubted that anyone reads the newsletter, our doubts were removed by the deluge of e-mails and phone calls that came within the next thirty minutes. Meanwhile, we were on and off of the phone, trying to speak with a live person in Seattle. By the time we got someone to return our call, the website and newsletter were back on line, and the problem was resolved. If you were among those frustrated by the problem, we apologize and will do our best to ensure that it won't happen again.

We've had two good shows since last month: Rhinebeck and Little Compton. The Little Compton show was truncated by a severe thunderstorm that closed the show early. Read this month's Tale of the Trade for details.

Although daily reports on the U.S. and world economies continue to be less than optimistic, we're managing to keep merchandise flowing. Yes, these days are a far cry from five years ago, but our sales in the shop, at shows, and on the Internet continue to allow us to acquire new stock and pay our monthly bills. We'll continue to work hard to stay in your thoughts and earn your trust.

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This Month's Feature

More pictures from our recent visit to Montreal.

 Montreal-old and new

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Tales of the Trade

The Little Compton Antiques Show and Squall

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Pippin's Page

Our snow leopard achieves new heights.

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The Back Page

Reflection on the tree that fell outside our bedroom window on a quiet night in June.

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September, 2008

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Since last month's newsletter . . . .

Our Sales Tax Holiday Sale

The first of many?

The success of last month's Sales Tax Holiday Sale exceeded our highest expectations. It's been a few years since we've done as much business in a weekend - even at our biggest shows. We’re especially pleased that more than 60% of our sales during the weekend were directly associated with our website. We shipped to various parts of the US and are storing a few additional pieces for out-of-town buyers. There is little doubt in our minds that, as long as Massachusetts offers the tax holiday, this sale will be an annual event.

Vermont Antiques Dealers' Show

New Date - A Step in the Right Direction

Despite the lure of Fall foliage, the Vermont Antiques Dealers' Association's annual show, formerly held the weekend preceding Vermont Foliage Week, has never garnered the crowds we feel it deserves. This year the show was moved to a new date, in late August. Although the jury is still deliberating the success of the change, we see it as a positive move, though it may take another year or two to catch on. We're told that the gate was up on Saturday, but Sunday seemed especially sluggish, perhaps offsetting Saturday's gain. A few dealers (ourselves included) had very good shows, and we know of several others who rated the weekend "OK." Still, several described their weekend as "disappointing", a few selling nothing at all. It seems to us that there weren't enough deep-pocketed buyers to sustain the high level of this show. We'll see what the future brings.

Farmington

The Incredible, Shrinking Antiques Show

Country Home Magazine, Farmington's new "partners", advertised that this Fall's Farmington show would include "over 300" dealers - considerably lower than the 600+ who exhibited at Farmington decades ago, when it was one of the highlights of the New England antiquing year, but more than we've been seeing in recent years. Therefore, this announcement gave us reason to believe that the new collaboration might be having a positive effect. Imagine our disappointment when we read the booth plan and dealer list, handed to us at the show only after we requested it, which included only 165 dealers. And, as we shopped the show, we noticed more than a few vacant spaces, suggesting that this once-stellar show is in crisis. Nevertheless, we had a successful morning of buying, though the task took less than one hour. We hope that Farmington can survive these trying times.

Antiques in a Cow Pasture

New Date - Disappointing Turnout

Last weekend we left Conway at 4:00 a.m. and drove to Salisbury, Connecticut for this year's edition of Russell Carell's original outdoor flea market. This year's date was (once again) changed, as the show returned to Saturday, Despite the move, the buying crowd was light, and the show was not profitable for more than a few dealers among the several with whom we spoke. Our own sales were marginal, although we managed to part with a couple of "old friends" at or near our cost.

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New stock - new look

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This Month's Feature

Our trip to Canada in June was made beneath an ever-shifting blanket of clouds, foreshadowing the torrents that greeted us on our arrival in Montreal. Click here to see some of our photographs of these dramatic formations.

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Tales of the Trade

Remember the Staples High School Show?

Three of our summer shows, Darien, VADA, and Salisbury, have this year changed either their date, location, or both. That this can be risky is illustrated by the fate of another show we used to enjoy that no longer exists. To a great extent, our customers (and many of us dealers, as well) are creatures of habit. As we comb Brimfield three times a year, searching for new stock, we frequently encounter dealers who grouse about "how awful Brimfield has become." When we ask, "Why do you still set up here?" the answer is invariably a variant of, "Because I've been doing it since..."

All of which raises the question, "What if you you moved a show and nobody came?" Click this link to read about the former Staples High School Show.

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Pippin's Page

Pippin

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The Back Page

A photograph taken on a recent trip to the Hudson River Valley. CLICK HERE

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October, 2008

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En route to England, with the coast of Nova Scotia under clouds to our north.

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Our Fall post-England gala will be held in our shop on the weekend of November 8 and 9. Come and see what we found during our recent buying trip. For details, click here.

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Since last month's newsletter . . . .

Antiques in a Cow Pasture

We commented last month about the disappointing turnout for Antiques in a Cow Pasture, Barn Star’s revival of Russell Carrel’s original flea market. Less than a week after our September Newsletter was published, we read in “Antiques and the Arts Weekly” of Frank Gaglio’s decision to drop the show from Barn Star’s calendar. When we saw Frank at Rhinebeck he told us that, since this show has not been as successful as his others, dealers at the middle to high end have not been doing well there. Consequently, Frank feels unable to maintain its quality and has decided to place his resources and energy elsewhere. Barn Star has announced a major show in Hartford, replacing the Hartford Show recently cancelled by Linda Turner.

Golden Ball Tavern Antiques Show

The Golden Ball Tavern Show and Hurricane Kyle happened on the same weekend. It’s easy to assume that Kyle won; only 33 of the 91 dealers who had signed up, showed up. At 6:00 a.m., when we drove up to the gate of the show and rolled down our window, Tom D’Arruda, one of the show’s promoters, looked at us and asked, “What are YOU doing here?” But in fact, many us who braved the weather had a profitable day. Although attendance seemed to be off as much as the dealer count, those shoppers who came to the show came with the intent to buy; and buy they did. We often estimate the success of a show by looking at the ratio of sales to booth rent; by this measure, we had a “fabulous” day, selling a large oil painting, as well as furniture, jewelry, and smalls. Another friend, who has done this show for many years, told us that it was her best show ever at this venue, with a $10,000 sale to an early buyer.

Antiques in Vermont

After an absence of nearly 10 years, we were able to return to Antiques in Vermont, the final antiques event of Vermont Foliage Weekend. The weather and the Fall colors were exceptional, and leaf peepers came from near and far. We heard many success stories from all of the week’s shows, and our own gross was well beyond our expectations, despite the economic concerns we all share.

Rhinebeck

The financial losses in the world during the week between the Vermont show and Rhinebeck created an atmosphere of grave concern. We’re told that Thursday, the first day of setup that is always a bustle of pre-show buying, was eerily quiet, as the energy that has always characterized setup was replaced by fear and reserve. Saturday’s buying crowd appeared smaller than usual, but it was the lack of enthusiasm, not numbers, that was most noteworthy. Although we sold five objects on Saturday, our gross for the day was under $800. (Our show expenses for Rhinebeck are around $2000). Fortunately, Sunday was very much better, and we finished the weekend with a tiny profit. Under the circumstances, we were very pleased.

England

Our buying trip to England held a few surprises. Although the dollar is relatively strong against the pound, the uncertain economy and the rocky condition of the world’s banks suggested that we consider cancelling our trip. In the end, we decided that maintaining our relations with dealers in England and with our customers at home was more important than the security of knowing that we’d be able to buy over there and sell here. So far, we can say with certainty that buying was no problem; many dealers were quick to reduce their prices when we told them, quite honestly, that we couldn’t afford something. A friend in London responded to our “We have money to spend,” with “Then you’ve come to the right place.” All that remains for us now is to find out if our customers are as interested in our discoveries as they have been in the past.

We hope that, if you're close enough, you'll be able to join us in our shop on November 8th and 9th for our annual FALL GALA, when our new finds and several pieces we've set aside for the event will be displayed for the first time.

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Tales of the Trade

Paul Newman at Staples and Wilton

Since Paul Newman’s recent passing, we’ve read several eloquent eulogies written by journalists, his colleagues in the theater, and friends. All praise his enormous talent, and his well-known and remarkable philanthropic work. Those writers who knew Paul and Joanne Woodward, his wife, also speak eloquently and touchingly about their modesty and their shared desire to “ordinary” residents of Westport, Connecticut. For Paul, particularly, this was sometimes a problem. For a personal memoir that illustrates this facet of Paul Newman’s private persona, click here.

Banking Troubles in England

Sometimes the most thorough preparation is not enough to avert corporate negligence. Our recent trip to England was almost ruined by the coincidence of two debilitating events. If you're into nightmares, click here.

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The Back Page

Our friend Andrew Hill clipped this advertisement from The Daily Nation, a Kenyan newspaper. Plastic court cupboard, anyone?

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Pippin's Page

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November, 2008

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On the eve of our Fall Gala

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Since last month's newsletter . . . .

The shipment from our trip to England arrived in Conway shortly after we did, and we spent the two weeks after our return preparing for our Fall Gala. We cleaned and shined, spent two days polishing brass, made two trips each to our painting restorer, and put price tags on things whenever we had a few spare minutes. By Friday evening, the shop was all set for our gala weekend. We're pleased to report that the event was a great success, and by Sunday evening our sales had far exceeded any of our recent on-the-road shows. Thanks to all who came and made the weekend so festive and successful.

We'll exhibit at two more shows before 2008 comes to an end, and then we'll be open during the first three weekends in December. As we did last year, we plan to feature a selection of gift ideas. Many of these will appear in our December Newsletter, scheduled to go online on December 2nd. We invite you to visit in person or online to find a gift for someone on your list.

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This Month's Feature

Our Fall post-England Gala

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Tale of the Trade

Tale of the incredible airborne chandelier

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Pippin's Page

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The Back Page

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December, 2008

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Greetings of this season and best wishes for the coming years to all of our customers and friends.

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Tale of the Trade

This month's tale, more properly called "Tale of the Trader," was sent to us by our daughter, Lindsey, who works in bond credit sales in New York. If you'd like to learn more about "how the bailouts work," click here.

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Pippin's Page

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The Back Page

At the VADA show in August our friends Joan and Doug Hallgren added a third Bellarmine jug to their collection. To see the picture they sent us of their trio of bearded men in costume for the holidays, click here.

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