An Antiquarian's Tale, Issue 215

Clinton Howell Antiques - January 9, 2023 - Issue 215

An Appreciation of English Antique Furniture

A semi biographical journey of my life in the English Decorative Arts

I would like to offer tickets to The Winter Show (Jan. 20-29, 2023) which I will be happy to mail to you, or which can be picked up at the show (the "will call" desk) when you come. If you would like them mailed to you, please supply me with your address. Otherwise, I will leave them in an envelope with willcall. I have a bunch of things that no one has seen before and as I write this, I am praying that my restorers get everything finished on time. In particular, I have a really good 1730's mirror with an antique plate--Greek key, shell and dart--no pediment, but a lovely item. Also a great mahogany bench dating around 1850 with great color, a very good tripod table with gallery and a rare occasional table that is Irish with four modified cabriole legs terminating with ball and claw feet--all with good color. There are more new items, but better to just come and see.

My first Winter Antiques Show, now known as The Winter Show, was  made possible because a dealer from London chose not to be in New York after transgressions related to NY sales tax. I inherited their booth five days before the show opened in 2003 and hated the maroon red felt walls, but despite them, I did quite well. I'd been in the International Show in 2002  and that was a washout. Anna Haughton, the organizer of the International Show, blocked in my corner booth to squeeze in more exhibitors, which made my booth deep and narrow. Hence, I was more than ready to give that show the heave-ho. Happily, I was asked to do the Winter Show and it worked out very well. I have had a soft spot for it ever since despite leaving it in 2012--I left because the Art and Antique Dealers League of America (AADLA) of which I was (and still am) President, started a show in the Armory that year and I did not think it advisable to be in two shows in the same place in one year.

As it happened, I did reasonably well at our Spring Show, but times were also hard in the dealing world and getting exhibitors to do the Spring Show proved very difficult. It has to be remembered that the Winter Show and the International Show were still in operation and a new show, the Salon Show, started at about that time. All in all, there were too many shows for dealers to choose from while at the same time, the number of dealers willing to pay a big rent for a show in New York City was dwindling. As it happens, the AADLA sold our show to a company called ArtVest who also bought the International Show (known as IFAADS) and sold them on to The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF). TEFAF chose to run two shows in the Armory, in the spring and fall, one for more contemporary works of art and one for traditional art. The cost to TEFAF--they have a distinct and rather grand style in how they run shows--was prohibitive and within a few years, before the advent of Covid, TEFAF was down to one show. And by the time the threat of Coved was diminished enough for the show to go on, TEFAF was no longer involved with doing any shows at the 67th Street Armory. (No more acronyms for a bit, I promise.)

I chose not to do a show with TEFAF as I thought the cost was prohibitive and I did not believe TEFAF's mailing list was appropriate for an English antique furniture dealer. Essentially, I was out in the cold without any major shows in New York. Until, that is, I was invited back into the Winter Show for 2022. The management had changed in the interim which I thought was for the best. The new manager is Helen Allen who brings a wonderful sense of can-do to all things related to the show. In fact, my first year back saw a delay due to Covid from January to April. Because of the delay, the show was held at Barney's department store (now defunct) which proved challenging to the management team, but one they met quite well. This year, a week from Friday, in fact, the show is back in the Armory for the first time in four years and for me the first time in eleven years. I hope you can make it.