Published: November 14, 2006
Atlantique City, “The Big One,” as it is known, is still big. With more than 500 dealers set up on the ten acres of floor space at the Atlantic City Convention Center October 13–15, buyers come from far and wide to shop the show that truly “has it all.” From Art Deco to antiquities, modern art to motorized toys, cloisonné to catchers’ mitts, if it’s collectible, it’s here. As one dealer said, “This year we had shoppers rather than lookers; it was a great show.”
Atlantique City began in the 1980s and has metamorphosed from a boardwalk show to what it is today. Current owners, F+W Publications, appointed a new team to produce and manage the semiannual antiques megafair this fall; Eric Bradley, formerly a full-time associate editor of Antique Trader — which hosted the show again this year — took over and instituted a few changes. Bradley stated, “We need to evaluate what we have and what we can improve. We want to attract high-quality dealers from West Coast chic to New England heirlooms; we need a show where high quality furniture and fine arts can mesh with high quality collectibles, paper, comics books and toys.”
Selling well as the show opened for early buying from 2 to 6 pm on Friday, was Charles Bojack, Gatsby Galley Antiques, whose booth was filled with an eclectic mix of all things Art Deco and flamingos. “Friday was great for us, we had time to talk to customers and were able to sell more because of that. I didn’t have any Noritake with me but because I had a chance to talk, a customer bought some of my pieces anyway. I met another customer who collects Maxfield Parrish. As we talked he found out I had other prints at home in Cleveland, Ohio. Ones he wanted. I guess my booth is like an appetizer bar, I try to bring little samples of what I collect. Friday was very good, I was ready to go home, but Saturday and Sunday were equally good.”
Rich Bertoia, Bertoia Auctions, Vineland, N.J., said, “It was a long show with the inclusion of the new Friday time change, but the normal two-day blitz was just that, a massive conventionlike atmosphere of dealers and collectors, representing every level and varied interests across the board. It was its usual great event.”
Bertoia’s booth was filled with high quality toys. A special American National Mack Stake Truck with original paint, tires and decals was out front and attracting attention. North River Auctions from Saugerties, N.Y., was also overflowing with items, from pocket watches to a glass champagne fountain, with flower flutes, that stood about 4 feet tall with a pink glass base, for $14,500. One wonders how many bottles of champagne it would take to fill that fountain.
Rare toys were on view at Fine Toys by Uwe Heintze, Dresden, Germany. A highlight was an alcohol-burning, self-powered steam ship from the 1890s. One of only three known, the Hertha could be purchased for $29,000, but only at Atlantique City as it is the only US venue for Uwe Heintze.
Across the aisle, Maurice DeGennaro at Great Parker’s Pony Circus had lions guarding his booth that rivaled the New York Public Library pair. Actually, he had two pairs, one sitting on a large ball (about 4 ½ feet tall) and another lying with regal attitude, both were snarling. He was also showing a 5-foot-tall “penny farthing” bicycle. Made in the 1850s in the United States by Columbia, Maurice said he used to ride it but “my back doesn’t let me climb up on it anymore.” He reported that two of his pieces were sold to museums, one in Bloomsburg, Penn., and a leather barber chair was being shipped to Salt Lake City, Utah.
His neighbor on the floor, Joe Donato, Crown Watch, Atlantic City, N.J., said his collection of vintage watches and rings and jewelry “would stand up to more wear and tear than the bike.” He was showing a collection that included a triangle watch from Hamilton that was “just like Elvis’s — but I can’t say it was his.” He also reported brisk sales but found the aisles “sometimes too crowded, which is great.”
Lions also framed the entrance to the Best of France Antiques, with a double booth necessary to display the large antiquities imported from France (and Europe). These sleeping lions were travertine or marble, probably Italian, which came to the show via Mechanicsville, Penn., where Edmondo Crimi has his shop. The interior was filled with large, often museum quality, Nineteenth Century furniture and bronze figures.
As a testament to the variety at this show, a 9-foot, late 1950s, Art Deco sofa highlighted Brass Lantern Antiques’ display. A “Vladamir Kagan-style” piece, it could be purchased for $2,650 from the Syracuse, N.Y., dealer, who also had a oak dental cabinet for $4,950. Also offered was a revolving, oak, 5-foot-tall cabinet with drawers from top to bottom, labeled a “nuts and bolts” piece at $2,150.
At Indian Pipe Antiques, Portland, Maine, which shared a large booth with Norm and Judy McCulloch, Hingham Antiques, Hingham, Mass., there was great variety, from a couple of long runner rugs made in the 1920s to Tiffany lamps, a wooden hobby horse, American maps, a pair of wonderful, cast iron dog andirons and boot scrapers. “We have found that it is still very important to offer house calls and at the show we were able to sell a matched pair of Weller art pottery lamps by taking them to a house about 20 minutes away and placing them for the client,” said Jeffrey Searles, who owns Indian Pipe with Eric Strang.
Many dealers came with art, from Maxfield Parrish prints to fine Modern art. Ray Kieber came from St-Laurent, Canada, with fine art: from a beautifully framed, small head portrait by Renoir for $125,000 to a designer mushroom lamp made of PVC pipe for $7,500 and a book case by the Swiss sculptor Schang Hutter (born 1935) that were both the essence of Modernism.
Not to be outshone by Modern pieces, Georges Shahady, from Bridgeport, W.Va., brought a 9-foot library table, hand carved in the 1880s, it had detailed claw feet and faces of gargoyles as part of the base as well as handwrought dentil around the table top, making it a beautiful piece.
If china or pottery were sought, many dealers brought their best. The Whitley Collection, Miami, had Moorcroft and Royal Doulton; Jim Jordan had a collection of amphora that he said he had brought from Gahanna, Ohio, as he had several collectors who would be looking for him at the show. Locked behind glass doors was an amphora goblet, early 1900s, with figures melting into the stem and multiple layers of glazes.
A Frederick Goldscheider, circa 1923, Art Deco porcelain figure was also behind glass but the peacock dancer was attracting viewers at Thom Marone and Ken Cowell’s Art Deco, Marlton, N.J. Her perky face and provocative pose were framed by a fan of blue peacock feathers — she was flirtatious and lovely and could be purchased for $20,000.
Viktor Schreckengost is the renowned Twentieth Century designer who just turned 100, and is still working. At Gatsby Gallery Antiques, from Shaker Heights, Ohio, Larry Waldman showed a few Schreckengost pieces; only these are modern pieces, made by Viktor in his original 1930s patterns. A large blue jazz bowl and plates are being offered again to the public. Waldman found the crowd at Atlantique City to be “a bit smaller, but very knowledgeable and real collectors. Viktor’s work stood out and attracted people to the booth.” Waldman was also offering his collection of German and Japanese toys from his Cybertoyz shop and John Orban had a large collection of advertising signs and vintage photographs; so many he had to employ the wall of the Convention Center to show them all.
With Halloween just around the corner, many dealers had collectibles for the holiday. At Sign of the Times, Joe and Sharon Happle, Lafayette, N.J., had a nodding head, clockwork witch and shelf of Halloween memorabilia, including a screen of embossed tissue paper and a devil face jack-o- lantern.
At Dad’s Follies there were molds of every kind, especially molds for Halloween, Christmas, Easter and just about any occasion. Metal, steel, tin, copper or plastic, there was a pre-World War I German mold of a rabbit, complete with instruction booklet that informed the maker that if the mold was made of solid chocolate, the rabbit would weigh 73½ pounds or if hollow it would be only 25 pounds.
Jay Yupcavage said he had the most unique item at the show, “Look at that, a 5-foot-long model of an ironclad [Civil War ship] made out of matchsticks! Must have over 10,000 matchsticks, can you imagine how long it took to make?” He was also showing an 1860s roulette wheel and a Black Forest clock just pulled from a barn, at his booth, Pottsville Antiques, Pottsville, Penn.
Eileen Kirkwood specializes in classic collections. She had a Nineteenth Century Boulle desk with brass and tortoiseshell inlay and had just sold another small chest. When she took off one of the loose plaques from the front she found several folded pieces of newspaper used to keep the inset in place; they were in German and dated 1852, she was pleased to have her dating confirmed.
Loy S. Harrell, Jr, from Hinesburg, Vt., brought decoys and sold decoys, and lots of items. “I sold the best creel I have ever owned, a splint ash, circa 1900, in great condition for $900, and a fine Shaftsbury, Vt., 1815 dome and decorated box from the White estate on Lake Champlain for $1,500. I also sold seven working decoys,” he reported.
That just about tells the whole story of Atlantique City — something, and everything, for everyone.
“The show will run again March 24–25,” Bradley said, “but the early buying on Friday will not be part of the spring show, as of right now.”
For more information, www.atlantiquecity.com or 800-726-9966, extension 331.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
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