The Oakland Museum White Elephant Sale is the mother of all rummage sales in the Bay Area. Now in its 56th year, the sale is a major fundraiser for the Oakland Museum of California and a major vintage shopping destination. While I first attended the White Elephant Sale about 20 years ago, I only learned about the secret donor shopping days several years ago. Admittedly it’s not that big a secret since, if you read their website carefully the information is there, but it’s buried several pages in and not broadcast on the home page. Once you know about donor shopping days you’ll always want to shop during them. I save items all year to donate to the White Elephant Sale just so that I can shop during donor shopping days.
While this is no secret to anyone living in the Bay Area, the Alameda Point Antique Faire should be on the must-do list of anyone visiting the Bay Area who has an interest in vintage and antique goods. Not only is it great for shopping, but this is also a market with a view: the market takes place on an air strip at the former Alameda Naval Air Station and has a view of San Francisco, the Bay, and the giant cranes of the Port of Oakland as a backdrop.
I’ve wanted to attend the big antiques fair in Round Top, Texas for many years and finally did so this year. Known as “Antiques Weekend” or “Texas Antiques Week”, both are really misnomers as the shows take place over more than a two week span (March 21-April 5 in 2015, the year I attended).
During this time period over 60 separate shows take place in several towns about midway between Austin and Houston, with the greatest concentration in the towns of Round Top and Warrenton. I stayed in Austin and it was about an hour and a half drive. The shows are mostly strung along a 10 mile stretch of highway 37.
I’ve written several blog posts about antiquing in Florida and have created this post as a summary with links to all of the posts. I’ve also taken this as an opportunity to update some information in posts that were written last year.
Three times a year Mount Dora, Florida becomes a major destination for antique-lovers. This is when Renninger’s, the famed Pennsylvania antique show promoter, hold their Extravaganzas.
Taking place in November, January, and February, Renninger’s Mount Dora Extravaganzas live up to their name with about 800 dealers from all over the country selling vintage and antique wares. The Extravaganzas go on rain or shine; while not as pleasant in the rain, many of the dealers are set up in indoor spaces and covered sheds making it possible to get some serious antiquing done even when it’s raining (and being Florida, the rain usually passes quickly). It’s also fairly spread out with some booths climbing a gentle hill, so be prepared for a lot of walking.
Two years ago, on a buying trip to England, I attended the Saltaire Vintage Home and Fashion Fair. Held in the town of Saltaire, on the outskirts of Bradford in West Yorkshire, this vintage show is held several times a year. A medium-sized show with approximately 40 booths, I found several great pieces of jewelry including a wonderful dangling hinged paste brooch, an Art Deco double-clip brooch, a modernist ring, and a Ming’s brooch.
The Ming’s brooch was an unusual find for England as it was made in Hawaii in the 1950’s. When I asked the dealer about it it turned out that she had bought it in California, near where I live; I, in turn, sold it to a collector in Hawaii. This brooch had travelled the world for over 50 years and finally returned home!
With Magnificent Jewels auction season underway I thought I’d clarify what this term means in the context of jewelry auctions. When major auction houses hold jewelry auctions the terms “Magnificent Jewels”, “Important Jewels”, and “Fine Jewels” are used to describe them. While, on the one hand, these terms are adjectives that describe the jewelry being auctioned, the auction houses are really referring to the monetary value of the jewelry being auctioned without being so gauche as to say it outright.
Palm Beach is famous for its high end consignment shops and its reputation is justified. On a recent buying trip to Florida I scoped out the vintage clothing scene in Palm Beach. The city of Palm Beach is located on a beach barrier island across the Intercoastal waterway from the mainland and connected to it by a couple of short bridges. An enclave of the very rich, Palm Beach features elegant hotels and restaurants and Worth Avenue, one of the world’s great shopping streets if high-end designer goods are your thing.
The New York Antique Jewelry and Watch Show is one of the top shows in the United States for lovers of antique jewelry. Produced by US Antique Shows – the company that also produces the Pier Show in New York, the Miami Beach Antique Show, and the Las Vegas Antique Jewelry and Watch Show – this show attracts many of the finest dealers in the country and from around the world. I recently attended the show, which was held at the Metropolitan Pavilion on 18th Street from July 25-28, and it was terrific. Although most of the jewelry was high end, and some VERY high end, I’d still strongly recommend that anyone with an interest in vintage and antique jewelry attend shows of this caliber because there is so much to be learned.
West Palm Beach’s “Antique Row” has dozens of vintage and antique shops, some high-end and others that are more modestly priced. The merchandise varies from vintage clothing and jewelry to furniture and decorative objets. Strengths include items from the mid-20th century including one of my favorites, lucite. On a recent trip I saw great lucite and chrome magazine racks and lamps at Cashmere Buffalo, although my focus was on jewelry.
One of the top vintage jewelry dealers in the country, D. Brett Benson, has a shop on antique row with an eye-popping selection of jewelry. When I first walked in I was wowed by his incredible selection of designer costume jewelry. But then I saw the jewelry in the showcases at the center of store filled with Mexican silver, modernist silver, Art Deco jewelry and some great Arts and Crafts pieces and was really impressed. There were exceptional pieces of silver jewelry by Spratling, Aguilar, Theodor Fahrner and many other great designers. This is a shop for serious collectors and fashionistas, so don’t expect bargains; it takes a lot of time and money for a dealer to amass a collection like this and even though the prices were high, they were fair considering their quality. Plus, the manager Kevin was delightful, and since it was “off season” and the store wasn’t busy, we had a lovely chat.