2018-07-26 / Front Page

Antiques and Art Abound at 'The Newport Show'

By Marion Laffey Fox


While assisting the dealers and other exhibitors at The Newport Show set up, Ruth Taylor, Diane Bittel, and Anne Hamilton admire a decorative sailor’s valentine. Popular during the mid-1800s, they were mostly a souvenir made a by voyaging sailor and given to a loved one upon returning home. (Photo by Jen Carter) While assisting the dealers and other exhibitors at The Newport Show set up, Ruth Taylor, Diane Bittel, and Anne Hamilton admire a decorative sailor’s valentine. Popular during the mid-1800s, they were mostly a souvenir made a by voyaging sailor and given to a loved one upon returning home. (Photo by Jen Carter) Among the bevy of summer arts and antiques shows across the country, Newport’s event is highly acclaimed. Celebrating its 12th year, and touting a new name, “The Newport Show,” it exudes a combination of fun and entertainment, with more than a dollop of scholarly enlightenment.

Always held during the last weekend of July, it features well-known dealers and magnetizes serious collectors from everywhere. Held at St. George’s School in Middletown, the event will again benefit both the Newport Historical Society and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Newport County.

The success of the show, which has donated over $2.2 million to the two charities, is due in large part to the tireless efforts of its founder and chairman, Anne Fritchman Hamilton (Mrs. S. Matthews V. Hamilton Jr.) of Newport, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania and Palm Beach, and the dedicated core of founders. Hamilton announced that this year’s presenting sponsor is Citizen’s Commercial Banking and the Gala Sponsor is long-time supporter, Franklin & Company.

On one hand, Hamilton, who has been intensely involved in the production of several other antiques shows and a plethora of philanthropic events for more than 35 years, brings a wealth of knowledge, organizational know-how, enthusiasm and boundless energy to this, one of her pet projects. On the other, she is respected by everyone involved for her willingness to tackle anything that needs to be done, whether it’s signing invitations or mopping up the floor.

“I have worked on many different shows over the years,” she said. “And I always thought that Newport was the perfect venue for such an event because there is so much early American history here, and 13 years ago when we were first discussing the possibility of launching one, I felt it was crazy that this town did not have an antiques show.”

After a brainstorming session with Ruth Taylor, Newport Historical Society’s executive director, Hamilton was convinced it would work. “There were a couple of things I wanted to see happen,” she said.

“First, I have always been interested in children and after serving on the Board of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Newport County, I felt compelled to help them in their many worthwhile endeavors. Secondly, I have always felt that the Newport Historical Society is our town’s special jewel that also needs our support. So I was interested in making the two organizations co-beneficiaries of the show, and Ruth agreed that it was a unique but totally worthwhile local collaboration. There is no doubt we have an interesting model that works, and as a result it’s a win-win situation for all.”

Taylor agrees with Hamilton’s sentiments. “The Newport Show is an expression of the town’s legendary love of beauty, design and craftsmanship. At the same time it continues to benefit both groups, turning this celebration of tradition and artistry into support for the current and future health of our community. This year supporters will meet some new dealers as well as a broadening variety of antiques, art and exquisite objects as the show’s tagline promises. It would not be possible without Hamilton, show manager Diana Bitttel, Ralph and Karen DiSaia and the team of founders,” she said

Joe Pratt, executive director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Newport County, expressed his gratitude for being chosen as part of that collaboration. “Support from The Newport Show has made it possible for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Newport County to serve over 6,000 children and youth each year and to empower kids to excel in school, become good citizens and lead healthy, productive lives.”

Pratt added that Hamilton will be honored at a special evening at 5th Annual Newport Yacht Rendezvous at the Newport Shipyard on the evening of Aug. 10. “This is the first time we are formally recognizing one of our most important benefactors and friends, allowing us to share the significant difference she has made in the lives of so many young people in our community. The exciting program will showcase the inspiration she elicits in all... young and old,” he said.

Diana Bittel of Diana H. Bittel Antiques has been the show’s enthusiastic manager from its inception. “There is no doubt that this is one of the East Coast’s most unique and important summer shows, that recognizes our very sophisticated audience who know what they are looking at, and appreciate the value. It is also a very beautiful show with exquisite offerings for sale with a definite nod to the reality of what people are buying including some more contemporary things.”

Within the roster of 42 dealers, some new faces include Carole Pinto, from Paris and New York; Guarisco Gallery from Washington, D.C. offering paintings and sculpture; Whitman Antiques, specialists in early brass and antique metalware; Denice De Laurentiss, who deals in fine prints; Johanna Antiques, specialist in antique jewelry; and Janice Paull, offering English ironstone, Oriental textiles and art, and Decades with vintage clothing and accessories.

The show will officially open with the Gala Preview Party on Friday July 27, at 6 p.m. A Preview Party ticket includes admission for the entire weekend. General admission is $15 for one day or $20 for a two-day pass. On Saturday it will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday’s visitors will enjoy an 11 a.m. lecture and book-signing by award-winning architect Patrick Ahearn, author of “Timeless.” Sunday’s show goers will be entertained by Los Angeles vintage clothing expert and TV personality Cameron Silver, known as the “King of Vintage,” who will speak at 11 a.m.

“There is no doubt that we fill the need for an important show in the Northeast,” said Hamilton. “It’s very cool; you can wander around and not necessarily buy anything, because it is a living museum. It’s an open book, and for those who appreciate exquisite things, it is unparalleled because the dealers, who are experts in their fields, are always available to discuss their wares and answer any questions. I am happy to say, it has become the place to be during the last weekend of July.”

TO GO

The Newport Show

WHEN: Saturday, July 28, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday, July 29, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

WHERE: St. George’s School, Ice Rink

COST: $15

Marion Laffey Fox is a contributing writer and editor to many international and national publications including “Southern Home,” “Coastal Living,” “Flower” and the “Tatler Travel Guide.”

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