M.A.D. for antiques

NOTES AND COMMENTS

July 12, 1999|By James H. Bready

SAMUEL PENNINGTON publishes Maine Antique Digest, watchguards the antiques market, collects (historical bronze sculptures), and now and then catches public television's current hit, "Antiques Roadshow." Now and then his eyes, too, widen.

May's issue of M.A.D., as the trade calls it, had 412 tabloid-size pages; 30,000-some subscribers rate M.A.D. without equal for Americana.

Pennington, who founded M.A.D. in 1973, is from Baltimore (Calvert School, Johns Hopkins '52). Waldoboro, Me., offered lower costs, perhaps more action (recently a July 17, 1776, printing of the Declaration of Independence turned up in a Dumpster; clouded provenance, but worth at least $100,000).

Everywhere, change: specialist shows, dealer malls, electronic auctions. By now, Sam Pennington's wife, two daughters and son are on staff; Clayton having just taken over as editor, Sam attends to M.A.D.'s online operations. Waldoboro's population has reached 5,000 (its current thermometer, 85) -- hardly enough people to attract the producers and appraisers of "Antiques Roadshow." The Penningtons, too, await the televising of Baltimore's big Convention Center on Saturday.

"I truly did not think," Pennington says, "the attics of America would yield enough to sustain this lengthening series of previously unknown rarities." When one more ordinary citizen's ancestral slop bowl is adjudged worth a weekend in Paris, even M.A.D. says wow!

Pub Date: 7/12/99

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