NEW YORK – The inaugural Metro Show reveals its brand new face when it opens to the public on January 19 through 22, at the Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 West 18th Street in New York. Joining the brigade of the Americana dealers who signed on from the previous American Antiques Show is a new group of specialists who have expanded the vernacular of historical design, adding an exciting vitality and diversity to the fair’s new incarnation.

Recently, The Art Fair Company asked the Metro dealers: “If you had to select just one object to submit to a Top Ten list, what would it be?” Here are their responses:

Steven Powers

History certainly does not repeat itself with the Metro dealers who offer one-of-a-kind pieces that played a role in the forming of our country. Take, for example, the “Washington” Lafayette Presentation Gold Button featured by Steven S. Powers – in its first display in the United States in 187 years. The button bears the image of George Washington and was created by Leavenworth, Haydon & Scovill of Waterbury, Conn. from a nugget of North Carolina gold. The button commemorates the return in 1824-25 to the United States of General Lafayette, hero of the American Revolution and old friend of Washington. The set was presented to Lafayette in 1825, and was assumed to have been lost to history after his death. In the late 1880s, 11 were discovered among the general’s effects . The button exhibited by Powers remains the only one known in private hands. Equally unique is the Lincoln & Johnson Presidential campaign Jeff and Holly Noordsyparade flag on center stage at Jeff R. Bridgman American Antiques. Recycled from an 1860 John Bell Constitutional Union Party flag, with 35 stars arranged in a variant of a “pentagon” or “heart” medallion, this flag is an exquisite example of Lincoln-related parade flags in its own right, and holds special cachet for being from Lincoln & Johnson’s 1864 campaign. At Gary R. Sullivan Antiques, stands a rich mahogany tall case clock with a rocking ship animated dial by John Bailey Jr. III from Hanover, Massachusetts, dated 1819, while a redware jar from New England (likely Maine), circa 1830, notable for its outstanding glaze with superb form in an unusually large 12-inch size, can be found at Sam Herrup Antiques.

Nothing says “Americana” more than the singular style of objects crafted by a loving hand. Such is the case with an exceptionally appealing 1802 Pennsylvania sampler by Mary Roberts, a 17-year-old Quaker of known lineage, at M. Finkel & Daughter. The regional characteristics include the central flower in an urn atop the undulating lawn with animals, and the organic, vining plants filling the surround. Distinct to this sampler, Mary stitched a bear — an image not present on others she created. The Hartford County, Connecticut, blown-glass pitcher (1800–20), offered by Jeff and Holly Noordsy Art and Antiques, is similar to the deep olive-green example found in the Toledo Museum of Art and others of its type in private collections, with one exception: The Noordsy example boasts a unique shade of beautiful medium emerald green. In perfect condition, the pitcher stands at 7 inches in height. At Garthoeffner Gallery Antiques, simpler times are celebrated with a polychrome painted wooden doll (1840–50), expertly carved in one piece with fully articulated arms. Meanwhile, a fanciful tramp art wall plaque by noted folk artist John Martin Zubersky, made in a sampler style and embellished with numerous carvings of birds, an eagle, sunflowers in pots, a star, hearts, and other symbols holds pride of place at Clifford A. Wallach Tramp Art, Folk Art and Americana. Created in a flat mosaic style by using strips of chip carving to ensemble a unique and inspiring statement, the plaque has the feel of fabric samplers crafted in the 1800s. Utilitarian and all-American, the “Cutlery Shop Trade Sign” from Just FolkWoodbridge, Connecticut, (circa 1875) available at Allan Katz Americana boasts a pure authenticity with its original weathered surface. The sign, fashioned from carved wood with copper jacket is a treasure — with its mellow, untouched gilded surface and for its unique form. Unlike other cutlery shop signs, which were simply cut from a flat board and painted, this piece was beautifully carved and shaped into an elegant object by a professional carver. Stella Rubin offers a 19th-century quilt that can stand besides any Modern painting. Made of satins, this example from the 1890s bears a remarkable resemblance to a Colorist painting — but 70 years prior to the movement. A sleepy-eyed Tinman-like “robot,” cobbled together from the mechanical odds and ends of a Mom-and-Pop hardware shop is the hero at Steven Score Inc. Celebrating the whimsical ingenuity of the Blue Collar class, this sculpture originates from the folk-art tradition of “shop figures,” like the cigar-store Indian, but in this case the work comes from a circa-1938 Massachusetts hardware store. Striking a remarkably contemporary look, this sculptural figure is comprised of materials and objects that would have been regular inventory of that store, including a stovepipe, brush bristles, a kerosene tank, and sheet metal. A Topsy-Turvy doll carved from wood and painted in polychrome with fabric, is available at Just Folk. This circa-1900 work is a signature piece from the Mendelsohn Collection, one of the most important American folk art collections in the nation.


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