- Just In
- Fine Art
Rare Pieces Up for Grabs at Unveiling
- February, 2011
EAST GOSHEN — Displayed in an unprepossessing building off Paoli Pike next weekend will be a Chester County spice box with a tombstone door, a tall case clock by New England clockmaker Aaron Willard with a Paul Revere label and a diminuitive Philadelphia Chippendale chest of drawers.
These are among the objects for sale at HL Chalfant’s fourth annual Unveiling, an American decorative arts and antiques consignment sale, to be held Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 19 and 20.
Most objects in the sale come from private collectors, explained H.L. “Skip” Chalfant, who’s been the sole proprietor of his art and antiques business since he opened it in 1982.
Said Chalfant, “These are fresh pieces that people haven’t seen before because most are from private collections — not previously for sale or listed at auctions. After the sale, if an object or painting doesn’t sell, it goes back to the collector.”
Objects range in price from $1,200 for a hand-chiseled chip-carved wooden tramp art mirror, circa 1880, to an oil painting of the USS Constitution and British Java frigates by noted British marine painter Montague Dawson, priced at $195,000.
The aforementioned circa 1780s clock, with brass finials, painted dial and gold columns on its bonnet door, bears a price tag of just under $100,000.
Unveiling objects come from 25 private antiques collectors and a couple of dealers.
HL Chalfant business realizes a straight 20 percent commission from anything it sells. Moving and insurance fees are included in the commission percentage.
During the last three annual Unveilings, totaling five days, the business has sold about 75 items worth more than $1 million, during their five-day total duration, said Scott Chalfant, previously a software developer who now works with his father.
Each year, the pair chooses a beneficiary for a portion of the sale’s profits. This year, 5 percent will go to the Chester Upland School of the Arts, a public school supported by the Chester Fund.
Previous beneficiaries include the National Lands Trust and the Chester County Historical Society. Scott Chalfant expects the Chester Upland donation this year to range from $1,000 to $5,000.
Fine antiques are memorable, according to Skip Chalfant: “You know good stuff when you see it.” Father and son reject quite a few items for the sale, he said, either because they’ve been reworked or were previously seen at auction.
“We make a commitment that what we sell during the Unveiling has not been publicly seen before,” Scott Chalfant noted.
What you first see Feb. 19 and 20 is what you get, in other words; previews and photography of the objects for sale are not permitted.
Interestingly, the year just past was the single best year for HL Chalfant, Skip Chalfant said. When asked why, at the tail end of a bruising recession, he smiled ruefully and responded, “A lot of hard work.
“Fine pieces are holding their value in this market,” he noted, “while the mediocre stuff is flat.”
The pair gives a lifetime guarantee to everything they sell. Invoices accurately reflect what, to their knowledge, has been replaced or fixed — a leg on a tea table, for instance.
Those who buy antiques are still mostly age 50 and older. That’s largely because this age group is in a position to buy fine furniture and paintings, now that children are grown and family expenses lower. As for attracting the younger set, Skip Chalfant said, “The best we can hope for is to expose them to beautiful antiques.”
To that end, front and center at the gallery is a 1951 applewood coffee table by noted Philadelphia woodworker Wharton Esherick with wagon wheel-shaped legs and a gleaming top in the rough shape of a surfboard. The youngest piece at the shop, it’s offered at $40,000.
The business always has booths at important regional antiques events, shows, the Chester County Historical Society, Philadelphia and Delaware shows among them.
The business maintains Facebook and Twitter accounts but doesn’t use them much, except around special events such as the Unveiling, Scott Chalfant said, adding that, “This is still a business that works largely by referral and word-of-mouth.”