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!
Modernism Week in Palm Springs is a celebration of mid-century architecture and design and features the Palm Springs Modernism Show and Sale, house tours, films, lectures, social events, and fund raising events that support state and local preservation organizations. I’ll be selling at the Palm Springs Modernism Show and Sale in February 2015 for the first time and, to prepare, I decided to attend the inaugural “Fall Edition” in October 2014 to scope it out. Taking place as part of the “Fall Season Kick-off”, this weekend was a mini-Modernism Week and gave me the opportunity to attend tours and other events that I won’t be able to attend in February when I’m working.
An important exhibit by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei recently opened on Alcatraz. Called @Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz the exhibit is installed throughout the prison; the artworks address themes of freedom and imprisonment using different media and methods of interacting with the viewers.
Ai Weiwei is an internationally renowned artist known for provocative work that often has political themes. He achieved worldwide fame beyond the art world as part of the design team for the Beijing National Stadium, known popularly as the “Birds Nest”, for the 2008 Summer Olympics. In 2011 he was arrested and held for 81 days for being a prominent and outspoken critic of the Chinese government. As of this writing in October 2014, the Chinese government has retained his passport, keeping him from leaving China.
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.
Palm Beach County is thick with thrift shops, some of which are pretty grungy and others that are as elegant as a high-end boutique. On a recent buying trip I visited many of them and found several worth repeat visits.
Goodwill has a lot of stores in Palm Beach County and there is a clear hierarchy among them. At the top of this hierarchy, and by far the most elegant thrift shop I’ve ever been to, is the Goodwill Embassy Boutique in Palm Beach. Located in the heart of a cluster of high-end consignment and vintage shops, and featuring beautiful built-in wood cabinets, if you didn’t know that this was Goodwill you wouldn’t know that it was Goodwill.
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.
More often than not I’m disappointed by the exhibits at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Rather than being in-depth studies of a fashion designer, style, or theme they often end up being product placement for the sponsoring designer. However the current exhibit, Charles James: Beyond Fashion, is everything I want in a fashion exhibit. While I’m not sure what the curators mean by “Beyond Fashion” – as if the sublime clothing in this exhibit needs to apologize for being “fashion” – they presented it superbly.
The town of Lake Worth, toward the southern end of Palm Beach County, has a concentration of Antique Malls and thrift shops that make it a worthwhile shopping destination. During a recent buying trip I scoped out the antique malls and found them full of interesting items. The three antique malls are located within a few blocks of each other along S. Dixie Highway (US 1) in, and adjacent to, the charming several block long LULA Arts District.
Coming from the south, the first place I stopped was BKG Antique Mall which has about 60 dealers.