BALTIMORE – There’s no denying the collecting world has changed drastically since the last Baltimore Summer Antiques Show. From Lehman Bros. to nationwide bailouts to a global recession, there’s little to be happy about holding a high-end antiques show in 2009.
Someone forgot to tell Chris Charamonde, Scott Diament, and Rob Samuels. The three owners of the Palm Beach Show Group are returning to Baltimore Sept. 3-6, confident dealers will sell and that the top of the market will take care of itself.
The three purchased the Baltimore Antiques Show from Frank Farbenbloom and his Sha-Dor Company in October 2005. They now produce the Palm Beach Jewelry, Art & Antique Show, the D.C. Spring Antiques Show and the Dallas International Art, Antique & Jewelry Show.
Now is the precisely the ideal time collectors and investors should attend shows like Baltimore, Charamonde told Antique Trader.
“The Baltimore show hasn’t been affected as much because people in difficult times are attracted to events with long history and track records,” he said. “The show will be full and very busy. Dealers are being more choosey and can’t afford to have a show not work for them financially. So it’s worked just the opposite in that there will be great bargains for the collector. It is a good time to be buying things. Some things don’t normally come to market and these times have made it more feasible to buy now.”
Among the initiatives the Palm Beach Show Group ushered in was enhancing the decoration at the event. This was done through wider aisles accented by white carpeting, boulevards of large urns overflowing with flower arrangements and walled booths that mimic boutique galleries. This move helped alter the public’s perspective from the Baltimore show being a “trade show” to a consumer show stocked with fun and beautiful things to buy, Charamonde said.
“Baltimore was always a fantastic event and people knew it was a great show to buy at. There was a group of dealers that came from all over the country to shop. It really didn’t have the decoration level or the accommodation of a retail show. We’ve added the consumer dynamic and still retained opportunities for the dealers to trade among themselves.”
The result is more than 500 dealers and a 50-dealer Antiquarian Book Fair. The show is in its 29th year. The strong retail aspect allows dealers including M.S. Rau Antiques of New Orleans to exhibit paintings such as The Pine Trees at Varengeville, an original painting by Claude Monet, circa 1882, and priced at $1.28 million.
“Baltimore is a very convenient place to get to and one of the dynamics is that there is a lot of diversity in the show,” he said. “We get different types of collectors. We draw as far away as North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Ohio. People in the Mid-Atlantic region have a great tradition of collecting for historic homes. It’s as though they are preconditioned for collecting as European societies are.”
Another new addition to the event is a free lecture series presented by dealers and experts in a variety of fields such as silver, glassmaking and folk art. The series is free to the public and school groups. It’s one way the promoters are sharing their dealers’ knowledge and perhaps inspiring a new generation of collectors, said Judy Oppel, show organizer.
“You don’t have to buy a ticket,” she said. “We do that in every community we attend and every community is so supportive.”
Oppel said lecture topics come from the dealers themselves and may not pertain directly to the merchandise in their booths. This year’s lecture series includes a talk by Dr. William Noel, curator of manuscripts and rare books at Baltimore’s Walters Art Museum. The lecture re-counts the story of the discovery of the earliest known text of works by the ancient Greek mathematician, Archimedes, and the recent project to conserve, image and publish the manuscript.
“It’s one of those Indiana Jones-type stories,” Oppel said. “We try to keep it well rounded. We’re happy to have something that’s going to speak to book collectors and historians.”
A sample of lecture topics includes: “American Beauty: Treasuring and Collecting Folk Art in America” with Beverly L. Norwood of The Norwoods’ Spirit of America, “The Golden Age of Glassmaking in China” with François Lorin of Asiantiques, “A Celebration of American Naval History” with Louis J. Dianni of Antique Marine Art and “Dining in Style with Georg Jensen Silver” with Janet Drucker of Drucker Antiques.
“A lot of times the speakers stay far longer than the lecture,” Oppel said. “We always invite the audience to ask questions. Sometimes the questions continue in the speaker’s booth. It establishes a new level of trust and credibility in a non-intimidating environment. Questions are all part of the learning curve and we stress that although our speakers are experts there is no question that’s too silly.”
The Baltimore Summer Antiques Show returns Sept. 3-6 to the Baltimore Convention Center, One West Pratt St. Admission is $12 and is good for the entire four-day show. More information on exhibitors, the lecture series and the entire Palm Beach Show Group schedule may be found at www.baltimoresummerantiques.com or by calling 561-822-5440.
Photos courtesy of The Palm Beach Show Group.