Right now is absolutely the perfect time to buy "important" antiques, says Carol Klapper, of Town & Country Antiques Shows, promoter of the 9th annual summer antiques show and sale at the Baltimore Convention Center this weekend.
"Prices are lower now than they have been for the past several years," she says. "If you want to buy something wonderful, now's the time to get a deal -- it won't be free, but you'll get good value."
The reason is that the fizzling economy has finally cut into the sizzling rise of fine antique prices. "The dealers are pricing their things to sell," she says.
Now, before you break out the piggy bank, understand that we are not talking knickknacks or "collectibles" here. The operative word is "important." Ms. Klapper uses it frequently when describing what the show will have to offer.
"We're going to have a lot more furniture this year," Ms. Klapper says, "with an emphasis on important period furniture -- American, English, Continental and some Chinese -- with nothing later than 1860.
"We'll also have a very wide and important collection of American glass, from Tiffany, Amberina, Steuben and Pairpoint," she says, "and a collection of French cameo glass from Galle and Daum Nancy." Cameo glass, she explains, is "cased glass" -- layer upon layer of colored glass that is then cut out to create a pattern in the different colors.
Among other "important" items Ms. Klapper lists: "French posters -- serious ones," for the collector; some "really rare" French tapestries dating from the 18th and 19th centuries; "wonderful" original antique folk art and wicker; and "plenty of silver" -- American and Georgian. Georgian -- English silver from the 1700s -- is a perennial favorite. "There are people who will come to the show just for the Georgian silver," Ms. Klapper says.
Besides that, there will be maritime articles, including "enormous" ship models; antique medical and scientific instruments; Civil War era guns and swords; Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiquities; porcelain, including English, Japanese, Continental and Chinese export; tall case clocks; antique jewelry; rare books; English Staffordshire figurines and animal-related art; 16th to 19th century prints; and a collection of Battersea boxes, small metal boxes with enameled tops dating to the 1800s.
All in all, there will be 55 dealers filling 60 booths, and "better than 85 percent" of the show will be room settings, so people can get an idea of how a piece might be used, or how it might work with other pieces.
Items for the show come from all over the country, Ms. Klapper says, naming Connecticut, Ohio, Illinois, Kansas, Texas, Florida, New Jersey, Massachusetts and New Hampshire as just some of the states from which dealers will be bringing their wares. "Some of them have been doing the show for years, but a lot of them are going to be new," she says.
The show is "vetted," which means that independent experts have examined items to make sure they are what they're represented to be. A "Sheraton" sideboard that dates to 1920 may be old, but it won't be allowed; nor will pieces that have been "married" (the top and bottom of a chest put together from two separate pieces, for instance), nor anything that has been extensively restored. "Minor restoration is allowed," Ms. Klapper says, "but it must be noted."
"We check the show out so that when the door opens, we can basically say that no one will get stuck," Ms. Klapper says.
The show runs from Friday through Sunday at the Baltimore Convention Center, 1 West Pratt St. downtown; hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $6, and lunch and refreshments will be available. For more information, call (703) 780-9200 before the show, or (410) 234-1500 during show hours.