Published: September 6, 2016
Review and Photos by Greg Smith
BALTIMORE, MD. — The Baltimore Art, Antique and Jewelry Show celebrated its 36th anniversary in pronounced style as it sprawled across the hundreds of thousands of square feet on the bottom floor of the Baltimore Convention Center. The August 25–28 show is ideally settled between Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., and represents a mainstay in Maryland’s largest city that people travel distances to see and shop at. More than 400 dealers came to present the mid-Atlantic with a truly impressive array of objects that spanned more than 3,000 years of creation and hit on every major artistic and collecting category that exists.
“There is nowhere else in the world, at this time, that you can see this variety of items,” said Scott Diament, president and chief executive officer of the Palm Beach Show Group and show manager. “We have fascinating, artistic and historical art objects that you can buy and learn about. That’s a cultural experience, an entertaining experience and an economic experience.”
The show was dazzling. A sharp, geometric concrete ceiling stood over the endless rows of dealers who displayed shining jewels, glistening finished hardwood furniture, polished and detailed silver and high-end artworks. Plush carpets underfoot eased the heels of the traveled shoppers who walked between miles of rows in search of the pieces they could not live without. As the gates opened at noon on Thursday, hundreds of people poured through, some in a walking pace that would put New Yorkers to shame. Dealers stood by readily as the hands started to enter cases, pieces were brought out for inspection and receipts were written up.
Diament walked around the convention center on Facebook Live before the opening of the show, giving his followers a sneak peek at some of the booths on the main drag. The man is a seasoned veteran of the trade, having been a dealer in jewelry since 1993. The Palm Beach Show Group runs ten quality shows throughout the year that scatter themselves down the Eastern seaboard, in addition to one West Coast show in Los Angeles.
At the heart of the show is an expansive diversity of material that shines when hundreds of quality dealers are brought together under the same roof. “Within each subject matter, call it silver boxes, you could find 30 dealers who sell silver boxes. That’s very different from going to a street with a few antiques dealers where you might see a silver box,” said Diament. “How are you going to compare that with all the other silver boxes on offer at that point? If you come to [the show], you can.”
There was no shortage of jewelry in Baltimore, as glass cases sparkled under bright lights from nearly every angle. D.K. Bressler & Co., New York City, showcased a stunning Eighteenth Century Italian bracelet of 18K gold, fancy sapphires, emeralds, rubies and turquoise. The piece was originally owned by a member of the Italian high court. Melidam Enterprises, Argentina, exhibited a tray of 30-plus Victorian rings among other fine pieces of designer jewelry. The rings featured topaz, rubies and rough-cut diamonds.
Delicate and finely worked silver pieces graced a good many booths at the show and covered a wide range of styles. Sandra J. Whitson, Lititz, Penn., had multiple cases containing hundreds of silver napkin rings of every imaginable form, from animals and figures across nationalities to erotica and soldiers. Richard Hatch Antiques, Flat Rock, N.C., carried a fine sterling repoussé George Webb tea set with floral decoration punched throughout the body. Webb was a Baltimore maker. Nelson & Nelson Antiques, New York City, displayed a large American sterling silver sleigh with fantasy figures at the helm and scroll work and lattice on all sides. The piece weighed 93 troy ounces and stood 13 inches high.
There were plenty of ceramics and glass to be found in various shapes, colors and sizes by renowned makers throughout the world. Philip Chasen Antiques, East Norwich, N.Y., showed a lively selection of lamps and vases by American and French makers. The dealer’s booth, located in a corner of the show, glowed from afar from the colorful and dim light of Louis Comfort Tiffany lamps. Antique Associates of Connecticut, North Haven, brought along a petite iridescent Quezal vase with ribbed body and flared edges. Pascoe & Company, North Miami, Fla., a specialist in Royal Doulton, displayed rows of figural heads by the maker that spanned politicians to entertainers, including Elvis.
If buyers were looking for unique historical objects, they would have been in good company in Baltimore. From Gotta Have It!, New York City, came an 18K gold, enameled and diamond-studded pocket watch purchased by Abraham Lincoln for his wife, Mary Todd, to be given to her on their wedding day. An argument on their wedding day prevented the two from being wed, so shortly after he gave it to another woman, though he still married Todd a year later. Mary Todd never received the pocket watch.
Around the corner in the booth of AxeAntiques, Charlotte, N.C., was a selection of Civil War-era revolvers, one being an engraved silver-plated and gold washed officer’s Perrin revolver. The US government ordered 1,000 of these revolvers in 1861, but only received 550. The revolver showed detailed foliate and scene engravings over 80 percent of its body.
Fine Art could be found throughout the show, with listed artists spanning centuries. In the booth of Rehs Galleries, New York City, buyers were presented with quality works that included a sailboat still life with an Irish flag draped in the background by Todd Casey, an American farm scene from Ben Bauer and a stormy cityscape with blowing American flags by Mark Daley. New Orleans dealer, M.S. Rau Antiques, brought along a selection of museum-quality works from Monet, Le Basque, Toulouse-Lautrec, Wesselmann and others. The outfit also exhibited a circa 1840 Italian pietre dure jewelry casket on stand with gilt-bronze casing.
This year marked the inaugural year of the Baltimore Fine Craft Show that coincided with the antiques show on the same floor. The show exhibited contemporary craft artists from throughout the United States working in metal, textiles and wood. Riffing off its recent purchase of the Palm Beach Fine Craft Show earlier this year, the show group saw an opportunity to expand the fine craft element into Baltimore. Diament said, “There’s a lot of tie-in and crossover between a collector that wants something of a classical nature and something that’s contemporary. Having a fine craft show where you have the actual artists who produced what will, one day, be considered the antiques or the historical art objects of the future completes the whole collecting picture.”
The show will be back in the Baltimore Convention Center in August of next year.
For additional information, www.baltimoresummershow.com or 561-822-5440.
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