Published: January 9, 2017
ENCINITAS, CALIF. – Well-known antiques dealer Bob Cahn, originally of Carmel, N.Y., died at age 93 on August 23, 2016, in southern California, where he had been residing for about ten years near his family and West Coast friends.
Bob was unique in his passion for the details of antiques and he loved to share his knowledge with friends in the business. He was an active member of the Kollectors of Old Kitchen Stuff (KOOKS) organization, a group created by collectors of kitchen collectibles. He would often travel with his best buddies, Mike Goodman and Joel Schiff, the cast iron guru who died in January 2016.
Cahn, The Primitive Man, was born on March 13, 1923. Those of us who knew him well were always concerned with his driving his huge motor home that was overstuffed with iron and wood and was so far over the weight limitation as to be quite dangerous. Bob had his particular booth locations that he preferred and was easy to spot. Some of his favorite shows were Renninger’s Kutztown, May’s at Brimfield, Rhinebeck, Stella Shows and Madison-Bouckville. He enjoyed the camaraderie of his fellow dealers and he entertained customers with his sharp wit and many original tales.
The television show Chronicle, produced by a local Boston station, came to Brimfield years ago and selected Bob, in his booth at May’s, as one of the featured dealers. Bob was filmed with his overstuffed motor home filled with merchandise packed in corrugated cardboard and duct tape. He wore his colorful plaid shirt and coordinating hat, as usual, that day.
Years before, as a young man in the New York metropolitan area, Bob was a producer of the Soupy Sales television show. He created a cue card company and offered other television-related services.
Bob also rented spots in several group shops in New England that he frequented to rearrange and replenish his booths. As many may recall, Bob was not a speedy kind of a guy. This process often took Bob multiple days and he savored every minute of it as he socialized and picked each shop along the way. As is true with many dealers, the business became his life.
His creative talents led him to writing several columns in the trade papers. One was called “Guess What?” and the other “Whatzit?” He showed photos of items that were difficult to identify and gave hints to the readers that were flavored with his own humorous remarks. He was always an original and had such amazing vision.
When cast iron dealer and collector Joel Schiff passed away, Bob, although his health was failing, still managed to put together a two-page rhyming tribute called “Ode To Joel Schiff” for the final KOOKS convention.
With the encouragement of Mike Goodman, Bob agreed to work on a project about himself called “The Trials and Tribulations of Bob Cahn, The Primitive Man!” It was not about all the shows that he had done but about all the shows that he did not do or had many problems with, such as the time his motor home burst into flames as he pulled into Brimfield.
The Bob Cahn era had a long beginning and an extended middle but there is no end because our memories of Bob will go on forever!
–Submitted by his friend Jody Young
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