Published: September 18, 2018
Review And Photos By Tania Kirkman
BALTIMORE, MD. – The Baltimore Art, Antiques & Jewelry Show marked its 38th year in operation, taking place August 30-September 2 at the Baltimore Convention Center in the heart of downtown’s historic inner harbor. Known for its reputation for resounding quality, this show did not disappoint.
With a balanced variety of curated objects, from the modestly priced to nearly priceless works of art, the Baltimore Summer Show was a feast for the eyes with unmatched quality and selection. Scott Diament, president and chief executive officer of the Palm Beach Show Group said he was thrilled with the show’s opening day and anticipated the excitement for the show to continue throughout the weekend. Speaking after the show, Diament said, “This was a breakthrough year. Attendees, exhibitors and production staff are feeling hopeful of the future for the art, antiques, craft and jewelry industries. The economy is strengthening. The greatest proof of which is increased attendance and box office sales – by the final day, it was the highest it had been in three years. We are very much looking forward to Baltimore 2019.”
Following the success of last year’s format, there were two specialized areas in addition to the main attraction. These were the Baltimore Antiquarian Book Fair, which was nestled in a nook of the showroom floor, and the Baltimore Fine Craft Show, which is now in its third year as part of the event and featured contemporary art and artists working in textiles, metal and wood. The “Booth Talk Series” also returned and featured specialists hosting lectures at their booths, covering a wide range of topics, from Georgian jewelry, unusual antique canes, the use of barometers in today’s world to Japanese art and more.
When all was said and done, show promoters reported a fantastic audience turnout. More than 25,000 collectors of all ages attended the event over its four-day run, with more than 325 dealers participating from both across the United States and around the globe. A universal comment among both dealers and shoppers was that the Baltimore Art, Antiques & Jewelry Show exudes excellence.
The Palm Beach Show Group is known for the elegance and grandeur of its shows, and it was apparent upon entering the showroom floor. Large flower-filled urns flanked the vast central corridor, which was blanketed in a lush, red carpet. Booths were highly polished, and a range of treasures from art and decorations, silver, sculpture and jewelry to Asian arts, furniture and ceramics were immediately visible for viewing.
Within the first hour of the show’s opening, the crowds dispersed into aisle ways, and there was a frenzy of activity as people sought out their favorite dealers and hunted for treasures. Over the hum of background music there was rustling of bags and paper packing up purchases, chit chat between dealers and customers and greetings between friends as they met on the showroom floor. The aisles were buzzing with the fever and excitement of the event’s opening, which proved a perfect start to kick off this year’s show.
“This is always one of the best shows that we attend” said Ann Wilbanks of Find Weatherly, Westport, Conn. “Shoppers here know and appreciate the types of property that we have, such as traditional items, marine art and folk art. They are knowledgeable about history and appreciate items that are historic.” Some of the highlights of their booth included an intricately inlaid Syrian cabinet, a pair of charcoal and crayon America’s Cup sketches by Reynolds Beal; a circa 1815 Boston convex mirror with entwined love birds that had originally been a wedding gift and a monumental New England cattle farm trade sign.
Greg Davis of G. Davis Rare Books, Roswell, Ga., has been attending the Baltimore show for years. “I love doing events and meeting people, and this is one of my favorite shows. Since my items are tactile, it is important for me to be in the public eye.” Display cases featured a good selection of antique books, along with decorative arts to catch the interest of non-book collectors. Of notable mention was a first edition, first issue of Kidnapped (London) 1886, by Robert Louis Stevenson, which sold at the show.
Ophir Gallery, Englewod, N.J., is known for its presentation of Tiffany Studios, Art Nouveau glass and Twentieth Century decorative arts, and has been attending the show for more than 20 years. Vice president Edo Ophir was enthusiastic about some objects they had recently acquired for the show, including a Tiffany Favrile glass with abalone and mother-of-pearl mosaic panel, presumed to have been removed from Laurelton Hall; a Tiffany Poppy mosaic ink stand by Clara Driscoll; and a large Tiffany Favrile glass vase with peacock feather design that measured a whopping 21 inches in diameter.
Jill Fenichell, Brooklyn, N.Y., reported an early morning sale on the opening day of her favorite items: a collection of three rare Locre bisque porcelain figures that went to a home in Pennsylvania. Fenichell also reported good sales of glass and porcelain, including a fine mid-Twentieth Century 16-light chandelier.
M.S. Rau Antiques of New Orleans, La., was a flurry of activity through the duration of the show weekend. Featured was a large display of art, decorations, jewelry and furniture. Among so many items, several noteworthy highlights included paintings by Norman Rockwell, John Singer Sargent, H. Claude Pissarro and a portrait of Abraham Lincoln by David Bustill Bowser. A magnificent 493-carat Ethiopian graduated opal bead necklace with diamond, sapphire and emerald accents was one of the standouts in the jewelry cases. Other noteworthy objects included a circa 1827 Royal ice pail by Rundell, Bridge and Rundell for King George IV of England, a pair of cased presentation flintlock pistols by Nicolas-Noël Boutet (1761-1833) and a boulle marquetry commode by Robert Blake, circa 1820.
Silver was an especially prominent feature in this year’s show. Greg Pepin Silver of Denmark exhibited a large collection of Art Nouveau, Art Deco and modern silver, and featured several unique items, including a large vintage Georg Jensen fish platter with mazarin and cover, and a set of Georg Jensen serving spoons with owl motif, set with jeweled eyes.
Spencer Marks, Ltd of Southampton, Mass., presented a fine display of antique silver, including a Gorham/Theodore B. Starr “special order” garniture set, Providence, R.I., circa 1900, which was owned by James Ben Ali Haggin, who at the time was, “one of the wealthiest people in the country that you’ve never heard of” after gaining his wealth during the California gold rush, remarked Spencer Gordon. Another item on view was a Whiting Aesthetic Movement Orientalist-design bowl, circa 1875. Having the engraved name “Blossom” in the interior, it was speculated to have been used as a very special dog bowl.
Already a hub for tourism, Baltimore, is ideally situated for travel from major cities such as Washington, DC, Philadelphia and New York City, making this show an ideal destination for dealers and shoppers alike. Collectors attending the show combed the aisles for treasures and specialty items. Past Pleasures Moderne of Annandale, Va., reported the sale of a 1930s Art Deco high-gloss mahogany dining table to a buyer who had anticipated the purchase since last year’s show. Elaine Proll of Florida and New Jersey, said that she “always attends this show.” Proll, who has been collecting for more than 50 years, was at the show searching for items to add to her collection of Royal Crown Derby Imari pattern porcelain.
Debuting for their first time at the show was Kent White of Illuminated Objects, Austin, Texas, who “was pleased to make many connections with interesting people throughout the show” and glad that their innovative items were so well received. The booth boasted unique sounds of yesteryear, from items like an entirely mechanical illuminated gramophone, together with other illuminated vintage items such a typewriter, radios, a fan, microscope and even a toaster.
Loana Marina Purrazzo of San Francisco, has been a jewelry dealer at the Baltimore show for more than ten years. She has several returning customers searching for special pieces who always come to visit her booth first, and then go shop the remainder of the show. She had already had several good sales the morning of the show’s opening, and she stated, “I always have a lot of ‘be backs’ who come back later in the show to make their purchases.”
“One of the things that shoppers truly enjoy most about the Baltimore show is the intimacy of their shopping experience” stated Kelsi Hartmann, executive director of communications for the Palm Beach Show Group. “Refined and curated exhibitors offer attendees a more enjoyable experience. The size of the show, as compared to the larger shows in years past, allow visitors a more comfortable environment to browse, and they can feel more confident in the purchases they are making.”
For the past several years, the show has been scheduled before the Labor Day weekend, but this year it was scheduled over the Labor Day weekend. Dealers and shoppers welcomed the change, and those who have been coming to the show for years were pleased to see the return to the holiday schedule. The Baltimore Summer show will return next year over Labor Day weekend, August 29-September 1. For more information, www.baltimoresummershow.com or 561-822-5440.
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