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Super Exciting V.I.P. Antiques Weekend

January, the customary month of beginning anew, found Trust members in New York City for a stellar start to 2009. The V.I.P. Antiques Weekend was more brilliant than ever with the addition of an elegant dinner at the Colony Club with Trust Vice President, Mary Jane Pool, as hostess. The optional dinner brought most of those attending V.I.P. together for cocktails, dinner and lots of good conservation.

Mary Jane Pool greeting Trust members.

Mary Jane Pool greeting Trust members Dabney Jacob and Elizabeth Schilling for dinner at the Colony Club during our VIP weekend.

The main focus of our V.I.P. Weekend is the Winter Antiques Show, a benefit for the East Side House Settlement in the South Bronx*. Sarah Donnem, a board member of the Settlement, makes an early entrance to the show available to the Trust. Glorious, informative tours in small groups were provided by American antiques dealers Sumpter Priddy, Carswell Berlin, Carol Huber, and David Parker before the show opened to the public. Dealers, preparing their booths for the day, put down their work to show Trust members a few choice items, i.e. rare pieces, those showing superb craftsmanship or a piece with a particularly wonderful story behind it.

American dealer Sumpter Priddy leads a group of Trust members through the Winter Antiques Show before it opened to the public.

A new dealer this year was Hans P. Kraus, Jr., Fine Photographs, who focused on 19th and early 20th century photographs, and in particular, works before 1860. The booth recreated the interior of Alfred Stieglitz’s and Edward Steichen’s “291” gallery. Inspired by the ideas of the Arts and Crafts and Symbolist movements in Europe, the booth featured Pictoralist photography by Steichen, Stieglitz, Julia Margaret Cameron, and Hill and Adamson, among others. Returning to the show after some years of absence was Nathan Liverant and Son. The owner, Arthur Liverant, is a third generation antiques dealer, son of Zeke and grandson of Nathan, who founded the business more than 80 years ago. Nathan Liverant and Son has been actively dealing in 18th and 19th Century American furniture, paintings, silver, glass, and related accessories since 1920. One of their specialties is Connecticut and New England furniture made prior to 1840.

Eric Gronning, Vice President of the American Furniture Department at Sotheby's, and Leslie Keno, Director of the American Furniture Department at Sotheby's, pointing out the fine details of this beautiful Philadelphia highboy from the Landon’s collection at our gathering during VIP Antiques Weekend.

This “before the curtain raises” look at the booths of high style Regency, Arts and Crafts, Shaker, folk art, silver, porcelain, beautiful early rugs from the Middle East, Southwestern native American work, just to name a few, pleased everyone attending and sent us back out on the floor after lunch to follow up on pieces we particularly liked. Our lunch in the Tiffany/Stanford White room is always a treat. One of the most interesting rooms in New York arranged for our lunch of artisan sandwiches, huge bowls of delicious salads, roasted asparagus, and cool glasses of wine, all overseen and hosted by Sarah’s wonderful committee who are dedicated to the show, the Settlement and to the historic armory. Yes, the 7th Regiment Armory is now the Park Avenue Armory under the leadership of the Conservancy for the Park Avenue Armory, a non-profit organization dedicated to a full restoration of its regimental rooms. It’s a big job but one that honors our servicemen, our architects and those elaborate late 19th century military interiors (See www.armoryonpark.org).

American dealer Sumpter Priddy, Alexandria, VA, Mary Jane Pool of New York City, and Randy Schrimsher, Huntsville, AL, enjoy an early and uncrowded view of the Winter Antiques Show in New York this past January.

This V.I.P. Weekend included a sentimental journey to Sotheby’s to have a last look at the Americana collection of Dr. & Mrs. Henry Landon. Hank is a Governor of the Trust and he and Barbara, his wife, hosted the Trust at their home in North Carolina some years ago to see the entire collection in situ. This time we met with Leslie Keno and Eric Gronning to explore the connoisseurship of top pieces. After a toast to the Landons by John Hunt, past president of the Trust, we gathered around a Philadelphia high boy, a set of regency chairs, a hefty Federal sideboard and other pieces to turn drawers upside down and examine carving, inlay and form. It was a magical time and the Landons were as gracious as always.

Leslie Keno and Eric Gronning of Sotheby’s American Furniture Department examining a chair from the Landon collection.

Our final “appointment” for V.I.P. 2009 was at the home of Frank Hohmann to see his American decorative arts collection. Descended from the 16th century Dutch map making Hohmanns, Frank is a collector’s collector. As he walked Trust members through his extensive furniture, paintings, Frishmuth sculpture and tall case clock collection, we began to understand that this was a collection of the best of mid to late 18th century American furniture and clocks. It was an exceptional visit with a kind and generous scholar. Mr. Hohmann is currently finishing a book on early American brass dial clocks, which will be out in late 2009. We will let Trust members know when this book is available because it will be a catalyst for collectors and a welcomed edition, since there are so few American clock books published.

If you like what you’re reading and wish you had been with us, mark your calendars for January 22 and 23, 2010, for the next V.I.P. Weekend in New York!

* The East Side House Settlement is a community resource that focuses on critical developmental periods—early childhood and adolescence—and critical junctures—points at which people are determined to become economically independent. The Settlement enriches, supplements and enhances the public school system and places college within reach of motivated students. It provides services to families in order that other family members may pursue their educational goals. And, it provides technology and career readiness training to enable students to improve their economic status and lead more fulfilling lives.