It’s All In The Details: The Baltimore Summer Antiques Show

BALTIMORE, MD. — It is the attention to details that sets this show apart from all of the others — from the white carpet-lined aisles, felt-walled booths, booth after booth after booth filled with quality merchandise and, most importantly, to management’s effervescent and accommodating attitude — the Baltimore Summer Antiques Show proved to be a crowd pleaser once again this year. Now in its 33rd year, this show has evolved into a destination.

Mega is a word that can easily be used to describe the Baltimore show, conducted August 22–25 at the Baltimore Convention Center, and the description is appropriate in a variety of ways. The crowd was mega-sized, with management reporting more than 35,000 in attendance. The show is mega-sized, with more than 550 dealers exhibiting in the mega-sized convention center that spans two city blocks. And, most importantly, mega-sales were noted throughout the venue.

Yes, it is true, show promoters Scott Diament and Rob Samuels of The Palm Beach Group pepper the Eastern seaboard with free passes to the show. And although many squawk about “artificially inflated” attendance figures when dealers are given as many free tickets to hand out to the show as they request (one dealer commented that she requested more than 100 free passes and gave them out to medical staff at nearby Johns Hopkins and other professionals throughout the Baltimore area that do not collect antiques and would probably never have come to the show otherwise) — the end result is justified. The final word is that the aisles were packed with shoppers, booths were thick with buyers — and they bought.

Diament, managing partner of the Baltimore Summer Antiques Show and president and chief executive officer of the Palm Beach Show Group, commented, “The extraordinary collections showcased at the Baltimore Summer Antiques Show cannot be found anywhere else, so this makes our show the ideal opportunity for people to view and purchase some of the most amazing things in the world.”

“Some of the most amazing things” do routinely show up in Baltimore — no matter what your taste is. For Americana lovers, there was Heller Washam’s ship’s figurehead in the form of an eagle that measured more than 5 feet tall. For pottery and glass lovers, there was Jason Jacques’ “Deadly Vase” by Paul Daschel, or the rare and desirable Galle elephant vase at Antique Place. The Portland, Maine, dealer’s selection of art was stellar, ranging from a Sixteenth Century Chaucer oil on panel to a Maurice de Vlaminck, to works by Norman Rockwell.

Continental collectors were overwhelmed by furnishings and bronzes, such as the French Empire dore and patinated bronze annular dial clock with movement by Lépine at Post Road Gallery, Larchmont, N.Y. Jewelry collectors found special pieces by Art Smith and Betty Cooke at Auerbach & Maffia, as well as exquisite Wiener Werkstätte, Georg Jenson and William Harper examples at Drucker Antiques. Then there were the gold adornments and utilitarian objects, including a detailed gold cup decorated with mythological creatures, dating from the first half of the first millennium BC at TK Asian Antiquities.

The crowd waiting to get into the show was enormous, so large that management utilizes three different entrances to the show to get buyers onto the floor in an efficient manner. Opening to the public on Thursday at noon, the line filled the main foyer of the convention center that leads to two of the show’s entrances. Another long line had formed at the exterior entrance to the show from Charles Street — an entrance that brings buyers in through a “side door.” Diament and Samuels were busy at the different gates as the event opened, handing out maps for the show and pointing buyers in the direction of their favorite dealer.

The crowd rushed onto the floor and shopped at a frenzied pace. The aisles filled quickly and many dealers had customers lined up three and four deep.

The booth of Stevens Antiques, Frazer, Penn., was located directly in front of the main entrance to the show, and as the doors swung open its stand was mobbed. Attracting a huge amount of attention was an exceptional early Twentieth Century roulette table that sold right away. The dealers also reported the sale of a rare Seventeenth Century English refectory table, along with many other pieces of English and American furniture.

“This was the best show I have ever had in Baltimore. I met so many new clients due to the fact that the advertising and promotions brought people in from all over the world — most of which were sophisticated and well-informed,” commented Orientalia dealer Marvin Baer, Ridgewood, N.J. The dealer’s cases were overflowing with an exceptional assortment of Satsuma that ranged from bowls and jars to censers. Baer was quick to point out an Eizan Meiji period charger. “It’s the cat’s meow,” stated the dealer, “I’ve seen a vase or two in this pattern, but never a charger.”

A stellar selection of Loetz was offered at The Emporium, Great Barrington, Mass., including two rare floriform vases on organic-form bases. One was a “tulip”-form vase with a Creta Martine base and topped with a previously undocumented Candia Rusticana floriform bowl. “It is possibly one of a kind,” stated the dealer. Another exceptional example of Loetz was a Titania vase in orange opal overall color with leaf green decoration.

 Bev and Doug Norwood, The Norwoods’ Spirit of America, Timonium, Md., have reported excellent shows for the past three years in Baltimore. The story was the same this year, with the dealers reporting strong sales throughout the show. A Nineteenth Century folk art oil on panel portrait by Thomas Ware, circa 1817, was a quick seller. The dealers also moved a set of wooden American folk art puppets that were dated back to the early 1800s. “The show has been fabulous for us — we were thrilled with the interest in American folk art this year,” stated Bev Norwood.

A large Edward Redfield painting was price on request at David David, Inc, Philadelphia. Titled “Under the Laurel,” the New Hope School Impressionistic scene depicted a stream meandering through snow-covered, rock-strewn banks and an overhanging laurel tree. Dealer Carl David commented, “This was our first participation at the Baltimore Summer Antiques Show, and we were very pleased. There were good, quality clients and visitors, and the show was supplemented with publicity everywhere. It was overall a fun atmosphere and successful experience.”

Other paintings in the display included a Willem de Kooning charcoal on paper from 1967 depicting figures at $235,000, a Frederick Carl Frieseke oil of a woman in front of a mirror titled “Il Quadro” was $350,000 and a Fern Coppedge winter townscape oil titled “December Afterglow” was $210,000.

Dean Borghi, Harrington Park, N.J., took booths on opposing aisles and opened a center walkway, ultimately forming four mini-galleries. “I have my Modernist section over here,” he said pointing to Milton Avery’s monochromatic oil on paper titled “Bikini Bather’s Back.” “My postwar section over there,” he said pointing to a set of four Jean-Michel Basquiat marker on paper drawings.

“Traditional Nineteenth Century art is on the other side, and my exterior wall is for the gear heads, with a car/motorcycle theme,” he said pointing to a large, illuminated neon Harley-Davidson sign that had graced the Hollywood, Fla., dealership in the 1950s. Photographs by Richard Prince with automotive themes were mixed into the fray, as were a series of gelatin silver works by Richard Rauschenberg that had been purchased from the artist’s family, where they had remained in unopened boxes since the 1980s.

“Horse and Jockey,” a stylized Art Deco bronze by Wilhelm Hunt Diederich, circa 1928, was $48,000 at Red Fox, Middleburg, Va. An Edmund Henry Osthaus oil titled “A Brace of Setters” was also displayed, $45,000.

Norman Rockwell works always attract a tremendous amount of interest and, naturally, a continuous crowd formed around the large scale and iconic oil “Willie Gillis: Package from Home” at M.S. Rau, New Orleans. Depicting a diminutive serviceman with a package from home and six towering buddies eyeballing his package from behind, the painting had been used as a cover for an October issue in 1941 of The Saturday Evening Post. Other works of art from the Rau display included a watercolor on paper titled “Mujer con Nino” by Diego Rivera, a Pierre-Auguste Renoir portrait of “Madame Paul Valery” and a gouache and watercolor over pencil on paper titled “Le Moulin” from 1881 by Vincent van Gogh.

“This one was done during his lifetime by a painter that knew him,” stated dealer Bill Union, Art and Antique Gallery, Worcester, Mass., as he pointed to a portrait of George Washington. Signed William Post, the artist is listed in the 1789 city directory as a “painter” and the dealer suspected that the painting was executed at the time of Washington’s inauguration in New York City.

“A chance to own one of the earliest Chaucer portraits, one of the few not in institutional hands” was presented at Edward T. Pollack, Portland, Maine. Displaying his wares in the “book fair” portion of the show, the Chaucer formerly hung at Columbia University as part of the Plimpton Collection. It was marked $150,000.

An interesting selection of first edition books was offered at Four Winds Books, Washington D.C. Standouts included Make Way for Ducklings, a Viking Press first edition from 1941, $15,000, and separate volumes of Mickey and Minnie Mouse pop-up books, New York Blue Ribbon Books, 1933, in mint condition for $275 each.

Alex Acevedo, The Alexander Gallery, New York City, related that he had been rummaging around his shop and came across a box that had not seen the light of day in many years. When opened, Acevedo was pleasantly surprised to find a small collection of 1930s white metal painted Mickey Mouse figures that included, among others, a standing Mickey with a suit indicator for the card game Bridge, an ashtray with match holder, a bell and a bottle stopper.

 An attractive display of Murano glass sculpture was offered at Mark Heller Vintage Murano Glass Design, Los Angeles. A large bulbous-formed sculpture in clear glass with figures formed inside was getting a lot of attention in the stand. Titled “The Lovers,” Heller commented that it was a unique work by Pino Signoretto from 1980. “He taught Chihuly to blow glass in Murano back in the 1960s,” said the dealer. Other works by the artist included a monumental glass lobster and a pair of seagulls. A nice pair of Sommerso glass fish with red inclusions by Romano Dona, circa 1980, were also displayed.

A rare pair of Tang dynasty painted potter Lokapalas, circa 600, stood guard at the entrance to the stand of TK Asian Antiques, Williamsburg, Va. The figures were posed subduing demons easily with their feet and were finely sculpted with fierce faces and wearing armor decorated with dragon heads. A grand assortment of furniture filled the stand, along with artworks, but the items capturing the attention of shoppers was the selection of gold utilitarian and adornment objects.

A small gold cup was decorated with a line of repousse deer around the circumference, a band of garnets below them and a three-dimensional figure of a bird perched on top of the handle. The rare cup dated Seventh to First Century BC. A bejeweled gold armband in the form of two coiled snakes was also offered, as was a gold vessel in the form of a bearded male siren, circa Fourth Century BC to Second Century AD.

Numerous jewelry sales were recorded at Steven Neckman, Inc, including a Cartier Art Deco necklace adorned with pearls, rubies and diamonds and an Oscar Heyman Art Deco cocktail watch.

Rosaria Varra of R&A International, Miami, commented that her experience was positive and that sales were steady. “We sold many magnificent pieces. Buyers were from Canada to the West Coast, and they were in the market for special estate pieces.”

While known for its outstanding selection of Georg Jenson silver serving pieces, the assortment of Twentieth Century jewelry is growing with leaps and bounds at Drucker Antiques, Mount Kisco, N.Y. Several pieces of Weiner Werkstätte jewelry were offered, including a wonderful beaded necklace; however, two other examples of jewelry stole the show. “Sherhegade’s Mystery,” a gold, silver and enamel necklace by William Harper was capturing quite a bit of attention, as was an extremely rare and desirable silver “Jazz” bracelet, circa 1948, by Eric Magnusson. Harper’s jewelry works are included in collections at the Smithsonian and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Extremely desirable Midcentury Modern jewelry by Art Smith, Betty Cooke, Rebajes, Ed Wiener and Al Kepanyes was at Auerbach & Maffia, Montgomeryville, Penn. A nice abstract sterling necklace by Smith stood in stark contrast to the simplicity of a Cooke gold and pyrite design. “We are heavily into Betty’s work,” stated the dealers, “and we try and carry her older stuff. We didn’t bring a lot of it to this show since her shop is right down the street,” they said referring to Cooke’s “The Store LTD” in nearby Cross Keys Village.

Several extremely rare Tiffany lamps were featured at The Wester Gallery, Roswell, Ga., including an eight-light yellow turtleback tile lantern. “The eight-light is extremely rare,” stated dealer Tom Wester, “Usually when you find them, they are four-light lanterns, and on top of that, usually when you see them they are green tiles; you almost never see them in yellow.” The dealer also featured a waterglass Dragonfly lamp on a bronze and glass blown out base. “The color of the glass really gives you the idea that the dragonfly is hovering over water and to see it on this base is unheard of. People have seen this base in books, but never seen the actual,” stated the dealer. 

“I was incredibly pleased with the amount of buying and selling on the show floor this year, myself included — I’m leaving Baltimore with more than a dozen fantastic pieces to add to my personal collection. I believe that the activity here is a clear indication that the art, antiques and period jewelry industry is thriving and we are delighted to fuel this commerce engine with our shows,” commented Diament in the days following the show.

The next show for the Palm Beach Show Group will be the Dallas International Art, Antique & Jewelry Show opening November 7. Dates for next year’s Baltimore Summer Antiques Show are August 21–24. For further information, or 561-822-5440.

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