Historical Society's Antique Show Marches Into The Armory

October 28, 1990|By Carleton Jones

The Maryland Historical Society will move its antique show to the Mount Royal area this week in an expanded format that will make use of the 5th Regiment Armory.

The new location will provide room for exhibits highlighting the founding of Antique Row nearby (on Howard Street) and the history of the armory and its setting in Bolton Hill, according to Jennifer Goldsborough, chief curator of the society. The armory was the scene of the nomination of Woodrow Wilson for president in 1912, of a major 1930s fire and of the city's largest national sculpture show (just before World War I).

"We were never able to house more than 35 dealers at the Convention Center site," Ms. Goldsborough reports. More than 50 are slated this week.

The show is usually held annually in midwinter, but organizers decided this year to adopt a fall date. To make the transition to the new schedule easier, they worked to stage two shows, the TC coming event and last February's exhibit in the Inner Harbor's Festival Hall, say society spokesmen.

It won't look like a repeat performance, however. The show will have a new personality this fall: N. Pendergast Jones, manager of the prestigious winter antique show in New York City and other municipal antique exhibits, has taken over the Baltimore show. "The public will actually have more to see," says Ms. Jones, who is known as "Penny" among dealers in the antique business.

Ms. Jones' favorite furniture period is the late Federal and early Empire -- an era noted for the proliferation of eagle themes, and for some of the highest achievements of Maryland classic cabinetmaking.

"From 1800 to 1830 was the first time we really felt like we were Americans," she says. "It was a wonderful time in American history and a great time in Baltimore for furnishings."

She adds, "Incidentally, Baltimore furniture is undervalued."

Her advice to antique shoppers:

"The most important thing is finding a dealer who is right for the city and right for the person." Once this happens, she says, "a collector should listen to dealers. The best thing is to relate with a good dealer and take advantage of a dealer's ideas. They're simply brimming with knowledge and dying to share it. The odd thing is that the public doesn't seem to take full advantage of it."

An educational exhibit from the society's collections will show off two rarities, a chair from the Philadelphia Presidential mansion of George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson's English-made card table. Both have found a home in Baltimore for quite a while. Washington's chair, in a simple Chippendale style, was the first furniture accession of the society, dating from an 1894 gift by Frank Etting. The Monticello table, auctioned in 1828 after the death of the president, was a 1920 gift from Bertha Cohen and her nieces.

The chair and table will be paired with the society's 1830s copy of Charles Willson Peale's portrait of General Mordecai Gist, a Maryland Revolutionary War hero, plus a piece of Parisian porcelain from Betsy Patterson Bonaparte's dinner service. The elaborately gilt ice cream urn dates from 1815, the year her father-in-law, Napoleon I, was defeated at Waterloo.

Finding such relics is the lifeblood of antique hunting.

Penny Jones says "20 years ago people played a safer game. They were wedded to Queen Anne styles and Chippendale. Today we're much more responsive. People are aware of different styles and they are more venturesome."


The 13th Maryland Antiques Show, under the general chairmanship of Barbara Katz, will take place Nov. 3 and 4 at the 5th Regiment Armory. The daily admission price will be $6 ($5.50 for members). Exhibiting dealers are from Virginia, Connecticut, Maine, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Missouri, Tennessee, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, New York, New Hampshire and Maryland.

Show hours will be 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. next Sunday.

Special events include a preview on Friday night, including a dinner and party. Tickets are $150 a person for admission at 5:30 p.m. to the preview and all the events following it; $85 a person for admission at 6:30 p.m. to the party and dinner.

A guided tour of the show featuring guest curators will be held Saturday at 10 a.m. Tickets will be $25 a person.

The armory is at Preston and Howard streets, just north of the State Office Center. Enter off Division Street for valet parking service.

For information and tickets, call the Maryland Historical Society's public programs office at 685-3750.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.