Local wares put the 'Baltimore' in summer antiques show

Nation's largest indoor antiques show is right under your nose

  • Baltimore was known for its fine quality silver, and silver enthusiasts agree that the Baltimore Summer Antiques Show is a top venue on the show calendar. An Atlanta, Georgia, silver dealer will be bringing this Kirk coin silver sugar and creamer "back home."
Baltimore was known for its fine quality silver, and silver… (Atlanta Silver & Antiques,…)
August 15, 2012|By Barbara and Ken Beem, Special to The Baltimore Sun

Tens of thousands of shoppers are expected to converge on the Baltimore Convention Center this week for the 32nd Annual Baltimore Summer Antiques Show, an event that has grown to become the largest indoor antiques show in the country.

Serious collectors, casual shoppers and the just plain curious will have their pick of hundreds of thousands of items. Everything from fine art, posters and decoys, to estate jewelry, antique armor and exquisite furniture will be featured as some 575 antiques dealers and 90 rare-book sellers participating in the Antiquarian Book Fair set up shop in downtown Baltimore.

While there is no denying the international flavor as buyers and sellers come together from around the world, this show, where everything is for sale, is also an opportunity to think locally. Not only are Baltimore-area dealers among those exhibiting, but a number of Baltimore-made wares from other times will be offered.

With more than 30 silver dealers exhibiting at what is considered to be the premier silver show in the nation, the output of Baltimore's famed silversmiths will be well represented. Among the items for sale at the show will be a Kirk & Son coin silver sugar and creamer set, dated 1819 and offered by Atlanta Silver & Antiques.

"Early Baltimore silver is a commodity, and it's rare to find it in this condition and of such high quality," said Mark Antebi, owner of Atlanta Silver & Antiques. "These pieces are fully hallmarked and highly decorated, showing the versatility of the Kirk silversmiths."

Peter Boehm of Dualities Antiques & Art is planning to show a Kirk tray, chased and embossed, featuring a 2-inch repousse border depicting "castles and wonderful flowers, a bridge over water and birds in flight." The century-old silver piece is "literally a small universe unto itself," he said.

Baltimore has never lacked artistic talent, and Susan Tillipan of TOJ Gallery will be featuring the etchings of Dorsey Potter Tyson. Because of the intense colors of Tyson's work, Tillipan is particularly drawn to this Baltimore artist. "Each print is one of a kind," she noted, "and the colors are just as vibrant today as they were in the 1920s."

Robert M. Quilter isl participating in the show for his eighth year. The Baltimore dealer plans on bringing a "choice selection" of 19th- and early-20th-century paintings by local artists, including John Ross Key, Clark Summers Marshall, and Charles Watson.

"We also intend to display an interesting [Works Project Administration]-era aerial painting of Baltimore's Jones Falls Valley and the industry and trains that were located there around 1940," Quilter said, adding that the painting was done by a person who was then a Maryland Institute College of Art student.

Americana and folk art will be prominent at this year's show, and among those exhibiting these wares are Baltimoreans Bev and Doug Norwood. Trading as "Spirit of America," the Timonium couple will offer several pieces with local ties, including a framed piece of mourning art, an example of intricate paper cutting that incorporates mid-19th-century memorial cards of Baltimoreans in its design. Show-goers will be among the first to have an opportunity to acquire this piece, which was recently procured from a private collection. Also featured will be a wooden paddle-wheel boat, "a great little piece of folk art with wonderful polychrome," and named The Baltimore, according to the Norwoods.

Another example of local folk art is an 1851 Baltimore-style album quilt offered by Stella Rubin. Made in Harford County, the traditional piece was stitched and signed by 23 women representing "some of the most prominent families of the area, Rubin said.

"It's a pity we don't know the occasion for which this quilt was made," she said, "but it must have been something rather special. The quilt is beautiful, and it appears to never have been used and never washed. I don't think it has ever seen the light of day: it was definitely prized when it was made."

Barbara and Ken Beem have been writing about antiques and collecting for 20 years. They are regular contributors to several national publications, including AntiqueWeek and the New England Antiques Journal.

Best of show

The Baltimore Summer Antiques Show features a number of showstoppers. Here are five things not to miss:

1. Silver. Look for silver by Louis Tiffany and George Jensen.

2. Lincoln memorabilia. An Abraham Lincoln memorial banner, made more than 100 years ago to celebrate the martyred President — and complete with three tears — is expected to attract considerable attention in the booth of Jeff Bridgman Antiques.

3.Mechanical pencils. Ken Bull is traveling from England with a collection of finely crafted and whimsical pencils, as featured in his book, "The KB Collection of Pencils."

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