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Home | Articles | Dealer Profile: Patrick Bell and Edwin Hild

It's more than a passing coincidence that Edwin Hild and Patrick Bell opened their shop Olde Hope Antiques on July 4, 1976. The firm is among the foremost resources for great American painted furniture and fine folk art. Even as children the two were prodigious collectors. At 12, Hild had started his collection of Victorian desks, Victrolas, and 78s. Bell, who swears that collecting is a genetic trait, began with early lanterns, trunks, and "everything else," he says.

The two met while working at the Woods Schools in Langhorne, Pennsylvania. They discovered a shared interest in collecting, and while keeping their day jobs, Bell, as a trained anthropologist, and Hild, an English teacher, began buying country objects at flea markets and local farm sales. A visit to The Flowering of American Folk Art exhibition at the Whitney Museum in 1974 was a watershed for both.

Inspired by what they had seen in New York, Ed and Pat opened their own antiques shop two years later. Curiosity about regional Pennsylvania painted furniture soon focused their interests, and for the last three decades they have built a reputation for handling some of the finest examples of this genre. As Pat says, "It's the unexpected that attracts us, objects that are above the ordinary, that sing." In addition to their gallery, which is open by appointment, Pat and Ed exhibit at several shows, including the Winter Antiques Show in New York, where they have exhibited for the last seven years, and the Philadelphia Antiques Show; this year will mark a decade of their presence.

Olde Hope Antiques is located in a converted stable on the 22-acre farm that Pat Bell shares with his partner, artist David Guilmet, in Solebury, Penn. Hild lives in an 1840s townhouse on the canal in New Hope.

Olde Hope Antiques, Inc., P.O. Box 718, New Hope, PA 18938. 215.297.0200; www.oldehope.com.

Frances McQueeney-Jones Mascolo

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