matching concrete lions, Mallett,
carved eagle wall Plaque, New England, 58" wide x 38"tall,
$26,000.00, Tag Allen Katz, Woodbridge, Ct.
best dressed book dealers, left - David Fandetta, right -
John Peter Hayden, of Hayden & Fandetta Rare Books.
case of Vienna bronzes in Robertson's booth, New Hope, PA
Guthrie demonstrating his trade, booth of Aedicule Fine Frame Making, San Francisco,
of Charles Jay Conover, Los Gatos, Ca
George Henry Burgess,
View of San Francisco in 1850, oil on canvas 41 x 72 inches,
$500,000.00 Montgomery Gallery, San Francisco
carved wood bellboy whirligig, European, $4,500.00, Robert
Young Antiques, London
of Berry-Hill Galleries, New York City
View of Haarlem,
Oil on canvas
by J.H. van Mastenbroek
34" x 51 1/2" , $85,000.00, Tag
Gallery, San Francisco
of Montgomery Gallery, San Francisco
American Indian weathervane, 36"tall x 25" wide,
Allen Katz American, Woodbridge, Ct
ANY PHOTO TO ENLARGE
appreciate things like that when you see them in a book, but just blow
them off as unobtainable. They're so great, you just naturally
assume they're permanently institionalized, permanently entrenched in
the Metropolitan, or some other fortress of culture, and you have no
chance of ever owning it. So when I walked up and saw them standing
there it was kind of surreal.....
attended the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show about the last ten
years. The show comes once a year in October, and is held at Fort
Mason, in the Marina district, right at the foot of San Francisco Bay.
It's the nicest antiques show I've ever been to, and has quite a
formal atmosphere. The dealers wear business dress, the men in coat
and tie mostly. The booths are very nicely decorated, with much
attention to detail. Some nearly look like stage sets. There is a restaurant
with full bar, right in the
middle of the show, surrounded
by dealer booths. They even bring in live foliage. And if that
wasn't enough, they have a terrific deli!
All they need is a Gap and they'd have all the bases covered. Take it
from someone who's attended innumerable shows of every kind the last
18 years; it's by far the nicest antiques show in northern California,
and probably all of California, maybe the entire country.
were about seventy five dealers exhibiting at the 2005 show.
admission has always been $15.00. That's about double most shows, but
well worth it, if for no other reason than just to see what a
first class show is like. The big glossy 10lb program they give you
probably cost that to print. By the way, take my advise, pick it up on
the way out. Plus the show
raises money for San Francisco High school students. Not to mention
it's a good excuse for socialites to party. There's a $150.00 a head
cocktail reception and preview opening night. I've never been, but
it's probably well stocked with San
Francisco's social elite.
do I find any sports antiques there? Over the years I haven't found a
lot, but what I have has been strong. One was a 9.0 on the
Richter scale, as we'll see in a bit. The quality of the show is
particularly high, and the potential is
always there for a major find. That's what
keeps me coming back every year. But even when I don't find anything,
it's really a treat to see all the high powered non sport antiques.
Especially now that the quality, of, practically all, the shows have
been drained by depletion and the internet.
One year I found an incredible c1890 framed
pillow cover with a Victorian girl holding a tennis racket. It was
way at the back, in Jay Conover’s booth. Jay's specialty is
furniture, but he likes to use antique sports things to enhance them,
basically as props. Jay's booth always has the clubby
Ralph Lauren look. The cool thing is he'll sell the props. An
extra bonus of this find was meeting Jay, he's as pleasant as his
booth is nice. Jay's wife by the way, is none other than San Francisco
poster dealer Sarah
Stocking. Sarah is one of the top vintage poster dealers in the
back to the pillow, you see these kinds of cloth pillow covers in the
antiques world occasionally. They have printed Victorian style
illustrations. Most are feminine with scenes that would have appealed
to woman of the era. Sometimes they've been made into pillows, other
times you’ll see them framed. There are some sports ones, but they’re
rare. The tennis one I found that time was
superb. It was the nicest
tennis one I've ever seen, and the condition was excellent. But
the price was more than I wanted to pay. This was about ten years ago,
and I think it was $1,800.00. So all I could do was take a photo, and
I left without it. I mailed the photo to a buddy who collects, and has
a hot button for sports pillow covers. He agreed it was outstanding,
but didn't want to go the $1,800.00 either. And that was it, I thought
it was over. Then a month or so later my buddy's wife called and
wanted the dealers contact so she could get it for her husband for
Christmas. Jay still had it and she was able to buy it.
From then on, every year I made sure to check out Jay's booth
carefully. One year I looked all thru it but didn't see a thing. Then
I walked around the outer left wall which faced a dead end hallway.
There hidden out of view was one of the greatest rowing posters I’ve
ever seen. I remember I was so struck, it took a few minutes to get my
bearings. Once again it was a pretty high priced for me, $2,800.00 if
I recall right. And once again, all I could do was take a photo. I
showed my same buddy the photo, and...once again, he agreed, it was
killer, but a little too expensive. A month or so later I sold some
incredible America’s Cup photos and got the money, and Jay still had
it. I remember I drove all the way from Napa Valley to Campbell near
San Jose on new years eve day to get it.
Another year I found a cast iron umbrella stand with a bicycle rider
motif. I took a photo and with the dealers permission sent it to Prince Charles. His secretary
sent me a nice, no thanks letter. I was at an antiques show once and
overheard a conversation about how the person would offer Prince
Charles bicycle antiques when ever he found them, and that His
Highness collected bicycle things. I’ve sent a few offers, but never
sold him anything. His secretary sends the world's nicest thank you
letters though. I heard a story that there is a large antiques show in
London, that lets Prince Charles in before the show opens.
Enough Charles chatter, back to the S. F. Fall show. Another unique thing they have every year is a museum like exhibit of
exceptional examples of antiques of that year's selected genera. I
recall one year was silver, another was clocks, etc.. The items are
all from collections of local S.F. patrons. Most of the stuff is so
heady, I think everyone just likes
reading the little cards to see who the lenders are. Some of the names
are very recognizable.
of the most impressive booths I've ever seen at any show ever was that
of antique weapons dealer Peter Finer of London. It was off the scale!
Unfortunately I've not seen him at the show for quite a few years now.
He would have the most incredible array of antique weapons, in
the most incredible condition. I mean really exotic stuff, like
out of castles from the middle ages. Blunderbusses, crossbows, artillery,
daggers, stuff Catherine the Great's armies would have used. Probably it was all European. I think the Sultan of Brunei collects guns. I'll
bet Finer has a pipeline because I can't imagine a more prolific
dealer anywhere in the world.
The San Francisco International Poster fair usually takes place the
same weekend as the antique show, and it's also held right there at
Fort Mason, within walking distance. The shows compliment each other
well, and I recommend attending both. You can read about the poster
fair in the
story I wrote on it.
This years S.F. Fall Antiques Show looked great as always when I
arrived. Little did I know the monumental surprise that lay ahead. I
couldn't make it to the show till the last day, so who knows what I
missed. It's always best to get to shows as early as possible. But
it's not unusual to make a find on the last, plus the prices have
usually softened by then. I took my usual route to the right and started along the east
wall, passing the usual booths of Asian, French, and this and that
Empire. Always on the lookout for a silver golf match safe or
something in my realm.
About a quarter way up on the right is the booth of Historical
of New York City, owned by Denis Gallion and Daniel Morris. They
always have exceptional deco and art nouveau things. They don't
usually have a big booth,
but typically what they have is strong. Right away a bronze lamp
caught my eye, by Gustav Gurschner (1873-1970). It was made from a
c1900 sculpture of an art nouveau maiden holding a egg shaped glass
diffuser, quite large, 26 inches tall and very striking, price
$60,000.00 . They also had a unique oil painting of a man, titled "Vincenzo di
Parma", by Charles Baskerville - American 1896-1994. 32
1/2" tall x 24" wide. I suppose it would be considered art
deco, quality written all over it, $19,500.00. These guys really get
great stuff. I remember a couple years ago they had an incredible
bronze change tray
entitled “The Intruder” by
Bessie Potter Vonnoh. Point being, it's not unusual to see museum pieces in their
neat booth was that of Mallett of New York and London. This is one of
the ones I was saying looks like a stage set. They had two huge
concrete lions, garden art, that flanked their booth, 46" tall by
79" wide by 36" deep! Some of the other highlights of the
show included a nice selection of Vienna bronzes offered by
Robertson's of New Hope, PA., P1,
bronzes are a neat, fun thing to collect and they don't take much
room to display. They're usually quite detailed and have lot's
of character. Typically they're whimsical and entertaining, and come in many subjects. Naturally the few sports ones there are, are
very rare, and generally quite expensive. I just recently bought my
first Vienna, of three soccer
players. You can read a little more about Vienna's in a short
story I wrote on a tennis one.
The Montgomery Gallery of San Francisco had their usual selection of
incredible museum worthy paintings. The Montgomery Gallery is sort of the Kennedy Galleries of San
Francisco I think. My favorite
from their booth this year was titled “The
Town Crier” oil on canvass, by Joseph Raphael, American,
1869-1950 . The subject is a Dutch family who the artist probably painted from real life, their features are so distinct. Although
Raphael is noted as an American, the painting looks very European.
Sure enough the family is wearing Dutch style wooden shoes. There are
five people in the picture. The father looks like, Garry Schandling,
David Brenner, and he, could all be brothers. It’s an interesting work. Some of the faces
have considerable character. The boy to the right of the father's
elbow looks quite mischievous. The girl holding the doll looks
completely sincere. While the lady above the fathers elbow looks guilt
trip ready, so perhaps the mother. What also makes it great are its
size, 78” tall by 66” wide, and color. It just barely fit the
height of the wall in the Montgomery booth. I don’t recently recall another painting with color variation so
well chosen. The blue of the father’s sleeves, the red of the little
girl’s dress, with a white trim on her arm for definition. Then the
charming dress the young lady wears at viewers left, with the blue-ish
green and gold design. Then the subtle browns, from light to dark
throughout. Brown’s not a color you usually get excited about, but
it sure looks good the way Raphael put it all together. Paintings will
get to you if you're around them enough. Great posters start looking
kind of weak after seeing great paintings. I wouldn't mind getting
into them. Just what I need...more stuff!
mentioned I usually start on the right as you enter the show, and work my
way around the perimeter, then start on the inner rows. When I came
back up the left row toward the front, I saw the booth of Alan Katz of
Connecticut up ahead.
and wife Penny
Allen Katz Americana
specializes in American folk art, but not just your average American folk art.
Alan often deals in power pieces, ultra classic items you'd
typically see in a book or museum. I'd say him and competitor Fred
Giampietro are the two top American folk art dealers in the country.
This was only the third year I've seen Katz set up at the show. Last
year he had an incredible mid 19th century carved wood shield from a
U.S. Customs house, painted
red white and blue with stars and stripes. It was the crème de la crème
of its kind. That's the typical quality he brings. I had
completely forgot about him being there, so when I saw his booth up
ahead I quickly anticipated what he would have.
say he brings great exciting things, but what I saw took
me completely by surprise, I was almost dumfounded. There in front of
me were some of the most incredible baseball folk art extant;
two life size mechanical baseball player
figures of a batter and catcher.
amusement park mechanical baseball players, life size, $375,000.00
appeared to be made of galvanized sheet metal and were quite
distressed and bare looking, without uniforms. Allen explained they
had been used in an
park, and that people would pitch to the batter. Apparently the
batter would swing the now missing bat. Allen pointed out a line of
little holes across their mouths, and said steam would come out of
them, I guess as part of the action somehow.
was already familiar with them, as I had previously seen them in books
on folk art. You appreciate things like that when you see them in a
book, but just blow them off as unobtainable. They're so great, you
just naturally assume they're permanently institionalized, permanently
entrenched in the Metropolitan, or some other fortress of culture, and
you have no chance of ever owning it. So when I walked up and saw them
standing there it was kind of surreal. I looked around, and people
were going about their business as usual in other booths, there
were no crowds, I was the only one looking at them.
started to explain them, and I conveyed as much that I understood them
perfectly, and knew exactly what they were, and had seen them in the
books. I asked the price and he told me $375,000.00. We went on to
discuss them at length. They were too rich for me, so all I could do
was take it all in and wonder why more people weren't looking at them.
they were some of the greatest sports folk art pieces in the world. I
knew a fellow collector that I thought might want them, and sure
enough he bought them immediately. Allen later
gave me permission to use the photo.
Wrapping up my coverage of the show, I hope you enjoyed it. The
internet is a great way to find antiques but there's nothing like
human contact. A smile, a hand shake, looking someone in the eye; you
can't do those online. Nor can you replace just getting out and
enjoying the day. And of course you can't replace the tradition of going
out to eat after a show, it's part of antiquing! Afterwards I headed off to one of my favorites, Escape
from New York Pizza, across town on Haight St., where the hippie
thing started. Gritty neighborhood, but it's worth the excellent
potato pesto pizza. And you can get it by the slice!
matching concrete lions, Mallett,
tall x 66" wide, "The Town Crier and His Family" c1905, by
Joseph Raphael, $275,000.00, Tag Montgomery Gallery, San Francisco
of Hedge Galley, San Francisco
23"x15", The Saddling of Paddock at Saratoga, oil on
Canvass, $4,500.00, Tag
offered by Robertson's, New Hope, PA.
in center of show
Grossman assisting customers, The Ames Gallery, Berkeley, Ca.
Turkish and Chinese carved faces, painted pine, Aprox. 19
1/2" x 16" each, $85,000.00, Tag
Robert Young Antiques, London
carved wood Soldier whirligig, European, $6,800.00, Tag
Robert Young Antiques, London
of print dealer Tam O'Neill Fine Arts, Denver
of David's Antiques, Fallbrook, Ca.
Bandleader doll, $3,900.00 , booth of Ames Gallery, Berkeley, Ca.
of Charles Jay Conover, Los Gatos, Ca.
makers trade sign, 32", $1,200.00, Tag
Robert Young Antiques, London