Dozens of exhibitors, hundreds of ready buyers and new finds


John DeSimone said more than 500 people walked through the door during the first hour of the show. This photo shows only a portion of those lined up before opening.

Review and photos by Rick Russack

WELLS, MAINE – The Wells Show is a must-see on the Maine outdoor summer entertainment circuit. Run by Liz and John DeSimone’s Goosefare promotions, the show is now in its 20th year. It has around 70 exhibitors and attracts a large crowd. Attendance this year has far surpassed previous shows, likely because buyers and sellers are poised for a return to normal life. It’s basically an American show, but there are a lot of other elements.

Expect to find folk art, 18th and 19th century furniture, antique lighting, trade signs, sandstone and earthenware, Native American materials, quilts, baskets and paintings. You would also have found jewelry, vintage clothing, Staffordshire, Delft and Chinese export porcelain, fine art pottery and mid-century workshop pottery, as well as unique items and rarities. . There were several new dealers at the show this year. It takes place on the grounds of the Wells Preserve at Laudholm Farm, an estuarine national reserve with plenty of nature trails through the woods and wetlands for those who wish to explore a bit after the show.

Folk art is a staple and this year’s offerings ranged in size from a huge plover lure over 4 feet tall to fish lures about 3 or 4 inches in length. Jewett-Berdan Antiques, New Castle, Maine, priced their large plover at $ 950. There were many duck decoys and decorative carvings, as well as at least one large swan decoy in the Stephen-Douglas Antiques booth, priced at $ 1,200.

Hannah Humes, a dealer from Ohio, had a stack of boxes covered in 19th century wallpaper priced between $ 795 and $ 995. Weathervanes were available in at least half a dozen kiosks and several have been sold. Perhaps the interest in weathervanes was heightened by the publicity in this publication, as well as others, given to the current exhibit at the American Folk Art Museum, “American Weathervanes: The Art of The Winds”.

Selections of fish lures were available at several stalls, somewhat surprisingly since they were primarily used in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Ed Holden, Holden Antiques, Sherman, Connecticut, and Naples, Florida, said most states have banned the use of these decoys. New York made them illegal in 1906. Their use, however, was permitted during the lean years of the Depression. His decoys cost between $ 80 and $ 125. Holden also had two hand-forged multi-toothed fish spears. The idea was that the lures would be used to lure the fish to the surface where they would then be speared. Jim and Nancy Glazer, Bailey Island, Maine, also had several examples, including a large sturgeon lure that was priced at $ 450. Lures made by Oscar Peterson (1887-1951), the renowned “master” of the field, often fetch five-figure prices. Two major decoy auctions this summer will feature examples of his work.

John Lord, Antiques and Tyme, Wells, Maine, had about 60 or 70 business signs.  This one is particularly apt at the time and was priced at $ 300.

John Lord, Antiques and Tyme, Wells, Maine, had about 60 or 70 business signs. This one is particularly apt at the time and was priced at $ 300.

Bob Markowitz, Groveland, Mass., Is one of the dealers who thoroughly researches the items he sells. Priced at $ 850, a three-dimensional Moravian memorial with colorful flowers in relief. In the center, painted on bone, was a small traditional mourning scene of a weeping willow tree. Markowitz said the weeping willow’s foliage was human hair, most likely that of the deceased. It was dated 1832. Students at Young Ladies Seminary in Salem, North Carolina, are known to have created this type of memorial, but it is not known whether it came from this school. He also had an unusual “wool”. Most show marine subjects; this one represented a steam locomotive and a tender, with the logo of the Great Eastern Railroad. Markowitz was curious to see if he could know the exact date of its creation and contacted the Great Eastern Railway Society. The particular locomotive shown in the “woolie” was determined to date from 1895. Its price was $ 700.

In addition to the red and sandstone on offer at several stalls, there was also some unusual Bennington, or perhaps more accurately, Rockingham, to see. Mario Pollo had a large spotted cattle with prominent horns. It was unmarked and was priced at $ 1,250. Josh Farrin, Randolph, Maine, had an unusual large covered pot with molded heads and large handles. The price was $ 450.

Some outdoor shows don’t have a lot of furniture, especially painted country pieces. This one did. Hilary Nolan had several pieces, as did Ian McKelvey, Josh Farrin, Bob Markowitz, Benting & Jarvis, Heller Washam Antiques, Stephen-Douglas Antiques, Bill Kelley, Harry Hepburn and many others. Formal furniture was available from Martin Ferrick, Morgan MacWhinnie (who was new to the show) and others.

Mario Pollo, Bearsville, NY, had an assortment of paintings, outdoor items, and even a silver-trimmed western parade saddle, priced at $ 750.

Mario Pollo, Bearsville, NY, had an assortment of paintings, outdoor items, and even a silver-trimmed western parade saddle, priced at $ 750.

More and more mid-century workshop pottery is appearing in country lounges. Deirdre O’Callaghan, of Partridge Hill Antiques, said she has been collecting Anderson pottery for several years, produced near East Boothbay, Maine. The studio was in operation from 1952 until recently. She said, “I really like the stuff they’ve produced, but it’s time for me to downsize. She had four pieces that were priced between $ 60 and $ 150. John Prunier had an exceptional mosaic wall tile made by David Holleman (b.1927), around the years 1950-60. It depicted a mythological figure and was priced at $ 550. Holleman worked in the Boston area and his work can be found in the National Gallery and in many other museum collections.

After the show, John DeSimone was a very happy show promoter, saying, “It all came together for this show. It was the best Wells show we have ever had. The weather was perfect, the crowds were huge – we were almost out of parking – and dealership sales were steady throughout the day. I saw several parts being transported and a number of customers brought cars back to a loading area. The first forecast was for rain, so we added an extra-large tent so that we could shelter as many people as possible. The dealers told us they had a great show, and it was a great feeling for Liz and I after the experiences of last year.

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