Published: April 10, 2001
By Steve Sundlof and Genevieve Ward
NEW YORK CITY – The Triple Pier Antiques Show pulled up anchor leaving the city behind and cruised off to points beyond. The 1,200 dealers left in its wake reeled in the energy of thousands of visitors over two separate weekends, March 17-18 and March 24-25. Spring made its presence known with winds that swept off the Hudson River as vans, trucks and station wagons were unloaded, filling 600 dealer spaces each weekend. Almost every space during the second weekend had a different vendor and certainly a very unique selection of rdf_Descriptions were to be had on each of piers 88, 90, and 92.
The Dow Jones Industrial Index had an influence on the Pier Show as reported by several dealers; talk of recession was echoed by the decline in the stock market during the span of the event. However, other factors continue to have an effect on attendance and buying in general. With April 15 looming nearby, many feel less comfortable spending money on anything. Also, the month of March offers a large variety of shows and there is an indication of “antiques burn-out” uttered by many, dealers and buyers alike. With the Wilton Antiques Show held during Triple Pier’s first weekend, and Atlantique City held the next, numbers were somewhat down.
Joan Tramontano of Stella Show Management spoke of large crowds, especially at Pier 88, with dealers selling large amounts of furniture and reported a very busy show. Tramontano believes the March 17-18 show was a great venue for dealers to stock up on merchandise for resale and the March 24-25 show was more geared towards the retail market.
“New Jersey’s Atlantique Show pulled away some of our buyers, but we really did not see a large drop in attendance as the numbers remained healthy,” she recalled. “We will try to schedule next year’s Pier Show for either late February or early March- time frames very favorable according to our dealers. New dealers have already signed up for Pier 88 next year, even though the dates have not been set.”
She added, “The Pier Show relies on the international crowd and we received visitors from South America, Europe and Japan, though less than previous, we still received calls from Italy and this “barometer is where the dealers base market always exists. Stella Show Management is always trying to attract new faces though we draw comfort by seeing all the old, familiar ones.”
Pier 88 was home to the nomadic tribe of Modern dealers and featured Art Deco, Moderne, industrial design, 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s furniture & furnishing, Fiesta, chrome, aluminum, vintage fashions, luggage, radios, lighting, costume jewelry, hats, bags, shoes, linens, textiles, buttons, Bakelite, scent bottles, appliances, dolls, toys, and more- so much more. Diversity was defined among the 200 dealers who presented oddities such as an immense logger’s chainsaw, manufactured by Power Machinery, Ltd., found in the booth of Elkind/Glotzer and in the next aisle, a group of catalin radios sat silent in booth number 519, Radioart, Centerbrook, Conn.
A walk along Pier 88 finds Joseph Cantara of Bayside, N.Y. who has been involved in the Tiffany market since 1983. He is a collector of Tiffany as well as an international dealer who posses one of the largest inventories of desk set inventories of desk set accessories in many patterns. Cantara also specializes in rdf_Descriptions from the Art Deco and Art Nouveau periods- art glass, pottery, bronzes lighting, lamps and fixtures.
Cantara states, “Stella did a wonderful job as usual of getting the crowds in. She is one of the best promoters around and always seems to succeed in attracting large numbers of collectors and dealers. Tiffany Studios rdf_Descriptions were very strong. In fact, all I sold were Tiffany desk set rdf_Descriptions and accessories and a wonderful Tiffany chandelier and table lamp.”
Further, “The crowd is knowledgeable and aware of not only quality but also market value. It is one of the best shows that I do. One is able to buy and sell well. I have doing the pier show for more than 15 years now and have always found it to be one of the best shows around. That is due mainly to Stella and her wonderful staff. They are the best.”
Vanessa Strougo of Deco Etc., New York City, carried an impressive selection of Art Deco lighting, decorative rdf_Descriptions, Lucite handbags and accessories during her two-week attendance. Items included: 1950s accordion musical bar set, Statue of Liberty lamp; an early Von Nessen Studio chrome lamp; Chase “Soldiers” lamp; Chase blue Lucite/chrome candlestick holders; Deco women figural lamps; Hagenauer-style “Venetian Gondola”; cast and spun aluminum lighthouses; and a Sessions clock with lighted fish from the 1940s. Strougo reported selling a pair of chrome Deco Grecian-style lamps; a set of anodized teal green aluminum Kem Weber designed lamps; a 1930s stylized P-51 Mustang circling a zeppelin bulb; and added, “I felt my best customers were other Stella dealers who continue to seek me out to purchase strong Deco pieces.”
While each Pier has its own distinct flavor, several dealers find that exhibiting at two piers or switching piers each weekend maximizes the exposure to the crowds. Drucker Antiques of Mount Kisco, N.Y. exhibited on Pier 92 for the first round, and sales included Georg Jensen flatware in the Pyramid Pattern, a Georg Jensen Blossom tea set with a matching tray, and a collection of vintage cufflinks. The dealers chose to exhibit on Pier 88 during the second weekend, and highlights included a collection of Georg Jensen tea strainers, teapots and stands, most circa 1904-20.
Cathy and Frank Sykes of Wolfeboro, N.H. exhibited on two piers, both March 17-18. Numerous sales from the Pier 90 display are listed later in this article, while a big sale on Pier 88 was a three-piece upholstered living room set dating 1929 to a dealer who was going to ship it to Korea.
Also on Piers 88 and 92, Ed and Betty Koren of Bridges Over Time, Walden, N.Y. stated, “We had a great show both weekends, but to be honest I think the conflict with Atlantic City had attendance down on the second weekend. We had one of our best pier shows the first weekend and while we were a little nervous because of the economy and stock markets, we sold all the furniture we brought. We sold a great Deco Cloud Sofa set, a Gilbert Rohde for Herman Miller bedroom suite and a Secessionist book cabinet. We sold quite a few smalls as well including some Austrian Secessionist ceramics and a fabulous mid century bronze of a woman.”
Additionally, “The second weekend we also sold out all our furniture, but the price points were a bit more moderate. We sold a George Nakashima for Knoll Dining table from the late 1940s which was a pretty rare piece; a Harvey Probber credenza/bookcase; a Paul Mccobb Iron room divider; a George nelson storage cube; Thayer Coggin Chaise; a lime green vinyl chaise, a pair of Barcelona chairs and a pair of vinyl benches. We also sold some smalls and lighting, although not as well as the first weekend.”
Pier 92 featured classical antiques including formal furniture, Art Glass, porcelain, silver, ceramics, jewelry, timepieces, Art paintings, prints, lamps, lighting, clocks, Orientalia, and bronzes.
Karen Michele of Bridgewater, Conn. who specializes in tiles and decorative accessories, said, “I had a very good show despite St. Patrick’s Day and the Stock Market decline. Attendance seemed a bit down on Saturday and more people passed by on Sunday. Considering the reports of a weak economy, this did not reflect on my sales; people are educated and are willing to spend a bit more to acquire a high-quality tile.” Guido believes those who collect Art Pottery buy the tiles as an extension of their collections, or seek a certain tile as a centerpiece of a kitchen or for a specific application
Elizabeth Rosier of Countess and Goat, Southborough, Mass. specializes in Egyptian, Roman, Greek and Asian/ Indian antiquities and rdf_Descriptions range from 2,000 BC to the late Nineteenth Century- though most pieces classify as ancient.
Patricia Leon of Patricia Lea Antiques, Gales Ferry, Conn., stated, “I have done the show almost from the beginning and do both weeks each time. The show has not been as profitable for me in the last two years, which I feel is partly due to eBay, lower attendance and higher show expenses. The second week this spring was much improved for me and I felt the crowd was more interested in buying. My strongest sales were in the area of white linens and lace this time, selling five banquet sized tablecloths.”
She added, “We seem to be missing the International and West Coast dealers and buyers of years past. I would like to see a mix of dealers and merchandise on each pier instead of being divided into three periods; perhaps that would give the show a totally new look and [generate] excrdf_Descriptionent. There is nothing like the Pier Show for seeing and buying great merchandise and restocking for the season. It also helps to see new trends, meet old friends and hopefully make new contacts. Also, the Stella Show Management is always extremely organized and well staffed which makes our job much easier.”
Nili Gitig of Long Island, specialist in fine American silver, reflected, “This was by far one of the weakest Pier Shows that I have had. The attendance, I think, was lower than usual and even those who were there did not seem to be as interested in buying as in looking. I think that the state of the economy is a factor to make people wary of big purchases. However, I did pick up some new collectors, which is what I look to do at every show because then it means continued business, after the show. That is more important to me than the actual dollar amount that I take in. I have been doing the Pier Show in November and March for about four years now and look forward to doing it for many more years.”
While a small percent of the antiques offered on Pier 90 were mainstream, the show’s strength surfaced in utilitarian, but unique rdf_Descriptions such as hardware store nail cabinets, metal shelving, and dress models. Besides a great selection of slant-front desks, drop leaf tables and jelly cupboards, Pier 90 also offers sporting antiques, vintage posters, camp furniture, garden antiques and games.
Featuring tramp art was Sholl Antiques of Norwood, N.Y. with a 1908-09 German keepsake box highlighting the offerings. Secret compartment and shadowbox still holding preserved flowers from the time of dedication. The dealers also displayed numerous Black Forest pieces.
On a hunch, Smith-Zukas of Wells, Me. decided to rent a case this time around, anticipating high sales of smalls. Their prediction was on target. Nancy Smith brought expensive smalls, such as silver leaf frames, and a large collection of dog collars. To a regular customer, the dealers sold an 1890s spiked dog collar inscribed on a silver nameplate, “Thor.” The dealers have sold to many collectors of dog collars. Most collars date 1890-1910 and come from Lowell, Haverhill or Boston, Mass.
The dealers also had success with selling lamps made from found objects as well as mirrors made from old architectural objects. About the Pier show, Art Smith said, “We always cultivate new clients, and that leads to long-term relationships. It’s a really good show for that.”
Other sales included a 1920s-30s reverse-painted on glass copy of an Eighteenth Century map of the earth. Details in each corner depicted the map and sea, a compass, and allegorical figures representing mythological creatures. The dealers also sold a set of hand-colored celestial map prints by Burrits, Atlas of the Heavens, and a display case made from old doors torn from British mansions in Burma.
Cathy and Frank Sykes of Wolfboro, N.H. reported many sales, but not in the usual high range which they expect from Triple Pier. With other dealers exhibiting at other shows that weekend, dealer sales were down, and were very missed. In the sporting category, Cathy reported, “We sold mahogany boat models, Lake George memorabilia, books, medals, trophies, Chris Craft speedboats.” There were also lots of sales from the cases; doorstops were a popular rdf_Description.
According to Arlene Berman of New York City, “My sales included a large, somewhat dark painting of a factory done in 1938 by WPA artist Theodore Schewe. The others were small. I have sent a photo of one of the Charles O. Robinson drawings (“The Office”) to an interested party and that, of course, would be the result of the show.” Paintings included “New York Subway,” by WPA artists Miron Sokole (1901-85), “Bethlehem Steel,” by Will Behler, 1938 (exhibited at the Whitney in 1953) and “Overlooking Beacon Hill” by Edmond Quincy (1903-1997).
“It was a slow start,” said Bill Podmore, “but a very good finish.” Sunday was unusual for the number of sales for these Centerport, N.Y. dealers. Sales included a coffee table, a silver teacart, etageres, four beaded chandeliers, a mantel and a muslin directoire loveseat. Post-show sales included a series of graphic 1930s trolley posters from New York City, going to a customer from Dallas. New Yorkers will find a huge gilded mirror from the Podmore collection in a new clothing store across from the Four Seasons.
The variety within even one Pier is enormous. Some dealers specialize in early fireplace tiles or matchbox covers, while others have rdf_Descriptions to furnish the home and closet. Mary Ross recalled, “I love doing the Stella shows – they are well run and have a large, enthusiastic audience.” Sales for the – dealer included feather hats, vintage veiling, wallpaper boxes, fabric, hatboxes, Limoges porcelain, iron brackets with hummingbirds, American furniture, and textiles. Mary focuses on one holiday at each show; Easter rdf_Descriptions drew many customers to her booth.
Steve McKinney of Morgantown, Ind. sold four big-ticket “best of kind” rdf_Descriptions that made his show. He reported, “I sold a monumental mantelpiece that was the most beautiful one I have ever seen. I also sold a set of three prairie school leaded Arts and Crafts French doors, which were also the best of kind. The things I sold were unusual.”
Knowing they can expect large crowds of enthusiastic buyers who shop from start to finish, dealers admit that they save special pieces for the Pier shows. As Art Smith reflected, “Promoters provide the water. Dealers have to sail.”
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