There's something new at the antiques show

August 31, 2006|By Sarah Marston | Sarah Marston,sun reporter

With higher-quality dealers, intriguing antiques and a new layout, the 26th Baltimore Summer Antique Show aims to please old and new antiques fans alike.

The show is the largest summer antiques show in the country, with more than 550 dealers flocking to the Baltimore Convention Center from across the United States, Canada, Europe, South America and Asia to sell more than 100,000 pieces each summer.

Under new ownership this year, the show is about to be taken up a notch, with more than 200,000 individual pieces, dating from 5,000 years ago through the 20th century. There will be "furniture of all kinds, crystal, art glass, silver, ceramics, quilts, art deco, art nouveau, lamps, ethnic art, paintings, decoys, Chinese export, bronzes, music boxes, sewing collectibles, oriental rugs, textiles, posters, country store, antique armor and military, political memorabilia, nostalgia, advertising, jewelry, and much more," according to the show's Web site (baltimoresummerantiques.com).

The Palm Beach Show Group of Florida, which also runs the large Palm Beach Jewelry and Antiques Show, is implementing changes to the Baltimore show this year after purchasing it from original owner Frank Farbenbloom.

"The show is a fabulous event that for the last 25 years has just included dealers and collectors and very little of the public," said Chris Charamonde, co-owner of the Palm Beach Show Group with partners Rob Samuels and Scott Diament. "Now we're trying to make the public more aware of what's going on. We're introducing more of a retail aspect to the show."

With the goal of attracting more public interest, this summer's show will have a more room-like setup in the convention center than in previous years and a higher caliber of dealers, Charamonde said.

Two longtime Baltimore show dealers agreed that it's time for a change.

"The show's always been an exceptionally large show with large variety but spotty quality," said Michael Teller, owner of TK Asian Antiquities in Williamsburg, Va., and a dealer at the Baltimore show for more than 20 years. "This year ... they've retained the size and variety but become more exclusive with the quality of the show."

"The business is changing because antique buyers are changing. You've got to go with the times," said Marsha Moylan, co-owner of Moylan-Smelkinson/The Spare Room and a dealer at the Baltimore show since its inaugural year. "There are younger buyers out there, and the show is changing, hopefully to attract the young."

Teller and Moylan demonstrate the allure. Teller, who spent 20 years living abroad in numerous countries, now travels to China once a month to bring home archaeological works that date as far back as 5,000 years. He specializes in Chinese antiquities, often ceramic, bronze or gold, but also deals in 18th-century Chinese furniture and Asian art.

"In just about every medium I've studied, the Chinese have either done it first or better than anyone else," Teller said. He marvels at the variety and creativity of Chinese art and relishes opportunities to view archaeological digs firsthand. His business has its own laboratory, where Teller and his associates research authentication techniques such as carbon-14 dating, thermoluminescence and metallography.

Moylan and her business partner, Jacqueline Smelkinson, who specialize in Georgian and Victorian jewelry and English ceramics at their 27-year-old Baltimore business, hope to draw new antiquers with their early-dated jewelry. The antique jewelry is popular because of its resemblance to pieces by Tiffany & Co., according to Moylan.

"Tiffany today is showing lots of aspects of early jewelry, so buyers are more familiar with it," she said.

So whether you're a seasoned buyer looking for something new or a new antiquer looking for something old, the Baltimore Summer Antique Show won't disappoint. No matter what, Moylan said, "there's always a chance of finding a treasure."

The Baltimore Summer Antiques Show runs today through Sunday. Hours are 11 a.m.-8 p.m. today, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. The show is at the Baltimore Convention Center, 1 W. Pratt St. Admission is $12 today (for the first opportunity to view and purchase at the show) and $8 tomorrow through Sunday. For more information, call 561-822-5440 or visit baltimoresummerantiques.com.

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