Published: December 14, 2004
Review By W.A. Demers, photos By David Smith and W.A. Demers
The fall edition of Stella’s much anticipated Triple Pier Antiques Shows got underway on November 13-14 and again on November 16-17. A hallmark on the East Coast fall antiques show calendar, “The Piers” once again attracted New Yorkers and out-of-towners alike looking for vintage treasures among the 600 dealers arrayed on three Piers.
“We had the same attendance, including the preview, as in past years, but sales are picking up, and that’s encouraging,” said Leanne Stella of Stella Show Mgmt Co. Stella said there is a resurgence of the energy and liveliness that was also evident in Stella’s October shows, Modern and Gramercy Park. “We’re starting to see a little bit of that hunger again,” said Stella. “There seems to be a lot of excrdf_Descriptionent for the upcoming January show.”
One element that will probably be missing then is the Friday Sneak Preview, a trial event Stella hosted for the November shows in order to provide collectors an early buying opportunity. “People who loved it, really loved it,” said Stella, “but there were more people who didn’t, and we have to listen to our customers.
“Our e-preview, on the other hand, is proving positive,” she said. This web-based capability puts participating dealers’ merchandise on view for those who either cannot attend the show or want to follow up with a dealer afterwards. She added that Stella Show Mgmt is working to enhance the web-based tool, both from a technical perspective and based on feedback from dealers on which features are most helpful.
In the past, the first weekend of Triple Pier was generally seen as drawing the avid collectors, while the second weekend attracted more retail buyers. Stella, however, said she did not notice that dichotomy this time. Nor is the second weekend a rehash of the first. While some of the dealers may return, they do so with completely new and different merchandise.
True to form, Triple Pier assembled a wide variety of styles, genres and price ranges. Everything from vintage banquet tablecloths to Old Master paintings and 1950s fashions were on display.
Pier 90 at 50th Street was home to Americana and decorative arts, including furniture, folk art, garden furniture, architectural artifacts, Arts and Crafts, period, primitives, rugs, quilts, rustic, ethnic and tribal arts, advertising, sporting and fishing, toys, games, dolls, world’s fair, books, maps, postcards and more.
Pier 92 at 52nd Street was devoted to classical antiques, such as formal furniture, art glass, porcelains, silver, ceramics, jewelry, timepieces, art, paintings, prints, lamps, lighting, clocks, Asian antiques and bronzes.
Moderns and “fashionistas” headed for Pier 88 at 48th Street, which showcases Art Deco rdf_Descriptions, Moderne, industrial design, 1940s, 1950s and 1960s furniture and furnishings, chrome, aluminum, radios, Fiesta tableware, vintage fashions, luggage, hats, bags, shoes, costume jewelry, linens, textiles, buttons, Bakelite, scent bottles, appliances, dolls and toys.
Karen Perlmutter of Acanthus Antiques, Kensington, Md., had as a highlight at her booth the second weekend a Victorian 14K belt buckle bracelet made circa 1890. “We had an excellent first week,” said Perlmutter. “Unfortunately, we found the second week to be rather weak for us. Some dealers, however, had very good shows. It just predicts the unpredictability of any show venue these days.”
The second weekend’s show was good for David Mason of Mason Art & Antiques, West Cornwall, Conn. He had a unique sculpture made from found metal rdf_Descriptions such as stove parts, gear wheels and the like. “Fresh merchandise that was moderately priced sold easily,” he said. “The average sale was lower by half than it was a few years ago, now about $400. More retail and small collectors, less New York and European dealers restocking busy shops.”
Over on Pier 88, Fairlawn, N.J.-based Ira Pilossoff, presenting a colorful and interesting arcade of vintage lighters, related an even more colorful sales anecdote. Pilossof said a man came into his booth and informed him that he had seen the movie All About Eve the previous evening. In the movie, Bette Davis used a unique Art Deco lighter with a wand, which the man said he now had to have for himself, if he could locate one. “The lighter, it turns out, is a 1930s Ronson Touch-Tip lighter, which works by means of a wand, which, when pushed down, produces a flame,” said Pilosoff. “When I showed him a few different models that I have in my showcase, he became very excited. He ended up purchasing three different Ronson Touch-Tip lighters from me as a result. Incidentally, he is not a smoker, rather he – like most of my customers – simply loves the look of a beautiful Art Deco 1930s object.”
Pilossof said that while the different lighting mechanisms intrigue some and others are swept away with nostalgia, “the number one appeal, I believe, is that they really look cool.”
“Tablecloths. Banquet tablecloths. They couldn’t buy enough tablecloths from me, and it wasn’t as though they were needing them for Thanksgiving,” said Marsha L. Manchester of Gardiner, Maine, who specializes in vintage linens. “Big sized and big ticket rdf_Descriptions sold well for me. Small rdf_Descriptions were passed over for larger ones.” There is always one exception, however, said Manchester. “One of my specialties is risqué cocktail napkins and guest towels. I sold all of the seven sets to one collector to make a very exciting sale for me. It seems the more they want to buy, the more of a discount they want. They still believe they are doing me a favor by taking these specialty rdf_Descriptions ‘off my hands.'”
Manchester said she missed some of the usual Piers “buzz.” “It’s still an excellent show for me, and I intend to exhibit there always,” she said.
Majolica – and lots of it – was on display at the booth of Linda Ketterling, Toledo, Ohio, who was doing her first November show. “We had many positive comments from attendees and staff regarding our booth and selection of majolica,” she said. “Stella Show Mgmt is a wonderful company with a most accommodating staff, and their shows run like a well-oiled machine.”
Ketterling said that majolica made in France, particularly by the Massier family, which worked near the turn of the Nineteenth Century, was particularly strong. “We sold a fabulous Delphin Massier 15-inch grasshopper planter, a wonderful pair of vases, and other pieces,” said Ketterling. “Animal motif pieces were of particular interest to collectors, and we always have a large selection of those. We were heartened to meet a few new collectors of majolica – people who were previously not familiar with this pottery that were drawn to the whimsical designs and beautiful bright colors of majolica. I was well pleased to give out lots of information and history of majolica to all those people who may become addicted to it just as I have been for 20 years now.”
The scoop from the perspective of first-time exhibitor Elaine Klausman, Bedford, N.Y., who specializes in vintage women’s clothing and accessories, was that the Piers’ urban flavor made for a fun, stimulating show. “The crowd, being in the city, was a much ‘hipper’ crowd than we get in the suburbs, so that made it a lot of fun,” said Klausman, who on Pier 88 was showing, among other rdf_Descriptions, a carpet bag with lots of glitter and a Lucite handle from the 1950s. “Someone came by and bought a group of interesting hats that I had. She said they would possibly be used in an upcoming movie. We saw a soap star that my daughter recognized.”
Antiquarian reference books are always a popular attraction, and Jerry and Deborah Bowen of New York City-based Design Books, said they were pleased with their results. “We made a few strong sales at the preview,” said Deborah Bowen. “Among some special rdf_Descriptions we sold at the show was a large book of original Picasso lithographs for $1,000.”
Although it was her first time at the Piers and she had several logistical issues with her booth space, Stacy LoAlbo of Incogneeto, Somerville, N.J., said she was “mostly pleased” with her outing on Pier 88. One of the rdf_Descriptions she had on display was a late 1960s silver thread pantsuit couture by Lanvin. “The Friday preview did nothing for my sales,” said LoAlbo. “I made $35, one sale. I enjoyed the fact that I had the extra day to set up, so that was helpful. Overall, sales were fine. I sold a lot of little stuff, mostly under $150.”
For Robert Cestone, a Darien, Conn., dealer in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century fine art, the show attracted “the usual mix of browsers, hagglers and serious buyers.” Fortunately, I was assigned a well-positioned booth and was able to effectively display some of the more important works in the gallery collection. My experience with Stella Show Mgmt was very positive. I found their staff to be very accommodating and sensitive to my needs.”
Antiques at the Piers returns January 22-23 during the celebration of Americana in New York City. For information, 212-255-0200 or www.stellashows.com.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm