Friday, January 28, 2011

New York Antiques Week, Part I

Thank God that New York Antiques Week is over.  Of course one looks forward to its annual arrival every January with fevered anticipation, and one cannot wait to attend the shows and auction previews that fill every conceivable venue in town.  But the sheer number of them can be rather daunting, not to mention exhausting, to attend, and the temptations one is confronted with at every turn can be ruinous to one's financial well-being, at least if one were to succumb to their siren calls.

This year's Antiques Week schedule,
featuring the five shows and two auction houses
Courtesy of Stella Management

Which Reggie did, rather more than he was intending to, I am afraid.  In fact, Reggie thinks he may have lost his head this year.  At the moment he's feeling rather like a drunk the morning after an extended bender, where the details have gone all foggy.  How did I let that happen, he wonders, rubbing his temples?

I started off the week with every intention to keep my wallet firmly buttoned in my jacket pocket, and I only allowed myself to carry two cheques with me when out at the shows.  I did give myself permission to buy one or two little fripperies if I came across ones that I simply had to have.  But that was it.  No big-ticket items this year, I said to myself, avowing financial sobriety.

My resolve remained steadfast when I attended the Winter Antiques Show at the Park Avenue Armory—the grandaddy of them all—which is not surprising, given its ducal offerings and stratospheric prices.  But neither was my resolve much threatened at the Downtown Armory Show, even though that show was full of temptations (a number of which Boy succumbed to) at far more appealing price points than what one found at its uptown, richer cousin.  I even left the even-more-reasonable Pier Show virtually unscathed, unlike last year.

But the Ceramics Fair was my undoing.

The New York Ceramics Fair, which is one of the top shows of its kind in the world, attracts many of the leading ceramics and glass dealers from across the globe and is the hunting ground for serious collectors and museum curators seeking the very best that can be had, at least legitimately.

The cover of this year's dealer directory

It was at the Ceramics Fair that my lofty resolve and noble intentions came crashing down, and I was unmasked as the willpowerless fool that I truly am.  Dear Reader, unless you are just coming to read this blog for the first time, you are well aware, I am sure, that Reggie has rather a weakness for antique china and porcelains.  And no, not just for plates and saucers and cups, at least of the more common garden variety that one would set one's tables with.  No, he has more than enough of those already, and he has ceased lusting to add any more of them to his over-filled cupboards at Darlington House.  His tastes have become far more catholic than that, and much more expensive, too.

It didn't help that we arrived at the show on Saturday well fortified by a leisurely, martini-fueled lunch at L'Absinthe of perfectly shucked, briny, oysters; steak frites washed down with several glasses of rather good red wine; and a plate of lighter-than-air cookies accompanied by double espressos.  I'm not absolutely sure, but I think the house may have stood us to a round of post-prandial Sauternes before we stumbled out the door.

It is dangerous, I know, to go shopping for pretty things when one is under the influence, as we were.  But we did, and so it is not surprising that I felt giddy and almost in a dream state when I first looked around the hall where the fair was held, taking it all in.  For what I found there is truly the stuff of dreams, a veritable Aladdin's Cave of the most beautiful, rare, and costly antique ceramics and glass imaginable, beckoning to me with outstretched arms and the soothing encouragement of dealers all too willing to make my every wish come true.  In short, I became as helpless as an addict entering a fully stocked drug den with his rent money in his pocket.  Heavens!  But I'm not the only one, I might add, for I had my trusty adviser (and partner in crime), Boy Fenwick, with me.  And both of us, I am afraid, are weak-willed fellows when it comes to the crème de la crème of such precious offerings as the Ceramics Fair is known for.

To be continued . . .


  1. I always advise friends visiting NYC for the antique shows and auctions that concentrate at this time that it will likely be the among the coldest and/or snowiest two weeks of the winter!

  2. TDC: And that is good advice, indeed. Oftentimes the shows coincide with an arctic blast of wintry cold that grips the city with its icy, snowy claws. Brrrrr!

  3. I am on the edge of my chair and sooo looking forward to your next few posts! And I always console myself with this--no matter what I bought (and how much I spent), my purchase is almost certain to appreciate in value. Ah, antiques.

  4. "as helpless as an addict entering a fully stocked drug den with his rent money in his pocket"...that is so very funny and I think we have all been there at one point or another! xx

  5. Oooh...can't wait for the big reveal!
    Lunch sounds divine Reggie.

  6. Dearest R, What a tease you are making us wait for a future posting to reveal all [so to speak].
    I am sure that you are right in that one's mood [aided or otherwise by alcohol in some form or another]does dictate in part whether or not one will succumb to all manner of temptations and/or purchases. Just last week I was to be found at the Decorative Fair in Battersea eclectic mix of the old, the not so old and the antique....but all deemed by goodness knows who to be 'decorative'. On a chill grey day which was reflected rather too much indoors and with the beginnings of a head cold, this was not the day for being carried away with extravagant purchases or indeed any purchases come to that. No, when the Fair returns in May with early Summer just awakening, then I am certain will financial ruin be the order of the day!!

  7. I literally laughed out loud when I was reading this post-- your descriptions of losing your willpower are hilarious in how true they ring to me (I know I've been there too). I look forward very much to seeing what you brought home!

  8. Dear Mr. Darling,

    You've left us hanging by a threat! I am all ears. Please do continue with your story, and soon! I declare I too feel the rush you experience when laying eyes on a treasure trove of porcelain and glass. I weaken at the knees for Georgian and Regency glass wares
    and ceramics, but let's not go there right now. I await with baited breath for the conclusion of your hunt tale.

  9. As a recovering collector, I have to admit to being glad that in this part of Virginia American Art Pottery is thin on the ground. Living in Ohio for so many years presented terrible temptations every time I went antiquing. I think I have only seen 2 Rookwood pieces in the eight years I have lived in VA, neither of which sang to me...

    your sister, Hermione

  10. Dear Reggie, that's so funny! I don't leave the house if I don't want to spend any money and I'm lethal after a good lunch. Can't wait to see what you've bought xx

  11. I knock over store displays while stone cold sober on a regular basis, I can't fathom entering the doors of that show after that fabulous lunch.

  12. There can be few more entertaining treats than such an account of the perils of being 'a collector'.
    Look forward to the next episode.
    Best Wishes

  13. I would have been happy to take part in this venue. I too enjoy a good saunter past antiques far beyond what I can afford.

    However, it seems for this occasion someone needed to accompany you and perhaps dole out a reprimand for the spending offenses, but instead like your other readers I will wait in anticpation of "the finds" and no doubt through sheer envy, will not feel sorry for you in the least!

  14. You naughty tease. All the more delicious knowing treats await us:). I only wish we could have the video, the podcast, the event as it occurred. Ah well, we will have to take our experience from Reggie's always charming verbiage.

  15. I couldn't make Antiques Week this year, between weather and a bad cold and a couple of commitments, there just weren't 72 hours to pull off the round trip from Maine, so I live vicariously through your account----

    And glad I am to hear that you went wild (Bloggers Gone Wild?) at the Ceramics Fair. There are all too few around who do these days...

  16. Good morning, Reggie. I am taking your lesson, if lesson it is, to heart as the Celt and I attend the Cathedral Antiques Show at St Philips. I do not intend to buy anything, but if there were a large scale blue and white ....

    Looking forward to the denouement!

  17. Oh no - you can't leave us hanging like that!! Yes, I'm afraid a fortified lunch loosens all good resolve! Can't wait for the photos!

  18. Oh Sauternes, I've gone all dewy eyed.
    I can't wait to see what you picked up, we're on tenterhooks

  19. You and your "co-conspirator" never had a chance and you know it... Next you are going to tell us Pompey fortified by a couple of glasses of wine was the real culprit!

  20. Can't wait to read more. We were all abuzz this weekend when we heard our small town is getting an auction house. Twice a month on Saturdays we will get to lose ourselves as we bid on treasures. Can't wait- my mother-in-law have volunteered to serve drinks just to get the patrons in the right mood. Looking forward to reading more about your adventure.

  21. Reggie, Love your report, looking forward to the conclusion!


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