Saturday, August 28, 2010

New Castle Antiques Show: Some Ground Rules

A view of the New Castle Antiques Show site, 28 August 2010.

The annual New Castle Antiques Show is upon us. One of my friends pointed out that the promotional banner hanging above the entrace to the "historic" part of town reads "20010" rather than "2010." "We might not make it to see the 20010 show," he noted. Well, I will make it for the 2010 iteration. This will be my first time attending this show, and I am quite looking forward to it despite my diminished funds of late.

Some ground rules:

1) If I want to purchase something that costs more than $20, it must be a wall decoration that is not more than 40% black, gray, and/or brown (or shades of those colors).

I "need" a few things for the walls. Too many things around my apartment are "antique"-colored or conceal their colorful components. Since I gravitate toward boxes, the colors are often inside the objects and are rarely visible unless the objects are opened and exposed to light damage. (This may be related to why I have found so few objects for my walls. Wall objects have often already been exposed to light damage and therefore look a little drab.) In order to enjoy and show-off these hidden treasures, I plan to have an "open furniture" night at my apartment. I got the idea from The Wallace Collection in London. Every few years, the Wallace opens all its furniture so that guests can take a peak at interiors and get a better idea as to how the mechanical furniture works. I don't have impressive French furniture, but I have very special textiles and other items resting underneath closed lids that could stand to be exposed for an evening.

2) I may not purchase another example of something I already own.

For instance, I bought a 1939 map of NYC and the "environs" about nine years ago (I'm originally from New York). I love it---it's visible as you enter my apartment, and it was in a recent exhibition about New York maps at the New York Public Library. However, I bought the same map at an antiques shop in Adamstown, PA ("Antiques Capital of the America"), a few months ago. It's stored inside a folder in my filing cabinet at the moment. This is a good place for it, though. Map 2's colors are brighter. In addition, a few weeks ago, I nearly purchased a lidless example of a box (future blog subject) I bought a few weeks prior. I probably would have gone through with it had I not been with my mother. Instead, I took good notes and learned what I needed to learn (for the time being) from it. When I told my boyfriend about this recent temptation, he snidely remarked that I will soon have a symmetrically appointed apartment.

My only problem with this rule is that the principles of connoisseurship revolve around the ability to compare like objects and forms, so I am naturally inclined to buy duplicates of what I already have or objects similar to what I already have (or, objects that may very well be unique) unless I know I have quick and easy access to duplicate or similar objects at a nearby museum or library.

This rule wouldn't exist if it weren't for Charles F. Montgomery and Henry Francis du Pont. I admire you both, nonetheless.

3) I need to have "the feeling" to buy something over $20. You know how you feel when you try on the "perfect" dress? Well, when I find the "perfect" antique, I get a similar feeling...except, the world stops, too.

This "feeling" is related to the "one of us should buy it" principle devised by my boyfriend. When we're antiquing together, he has the habit of examining something with me and, upon deciding that he doesn't want to buy it, he says, "well, one of us should buy it." To be frank, I do and say the same thing to him. Sometimes, we say it to each other.

4) No furniture!...unless it's a late c19, early c20 so-called "barrister" bookcase in good condition for less than $100. In my dreams. I don't have a lot of space left for furniture, anyway.

5) If I can't hang it on a wall and if it doesn't meet my color criteria, I must be able to learn something from it. I can learn from anything, I think, but, to follow this rule, the object that is not a colorful wall decoration should probably be labeled with a maker's and/or owner's name. In other words, it needs a hint of provenance...and good blogging and/or resale potential. No, I don't buy to blog, but it's nice to have something in reserve (I have several things in reserve at the moment, so I should probably stay home tomorrow).

6) I need to bargain. When I set my heart on something that has made the world stop, I lose my wits and forget to negotiate.

7) It needs to be worth it. Rather, it should be priced fairly. I don't buy to make money, but, quite frankly, if it's more than $20 and I don't think I could make money from selling it in the case that I needed cash, then it's not worth it. I don't think I've overpaid for anything yet (and I never spend outside means), so I'm not too concerned about whether I'll follow this rule.

8) It's OK if don't buy anything.


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