Sunny days: Good weather, good buying enhance Atlantique City

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – The Boardwalk was packed, the good weather never waned and Atlantique City drew the crowds over the Oct. 20-21 weekend.

Quality was the buzzword among dealers and showgoers as exhibitors brought their best to satisfy the discriminating customer base at this twice yearly show, produced by Krause Publications and sponsored in part by Antique Trader, Alan “Mr. Mint” Rosen and Quinn’s Auction House of Falls Church, Va. Variety was the name of the game, as antiques ranged from high-end furniture, jewelry and fine art to world-class antique toys, Asian and European antiques and the show’s trademark assortment of weird and wonderful antiques, including a flying pig, a giant Pep Boys statue and a wide selection of vintage baseball pinball machines from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

“There was a positive feeling on the floor throughout the show,” said Atlantique City producer Eric Bradley. “Dealers were selling well and buyers seemed happy with the offerings of the show’s 400+ dealers.”

Traffic on the floor was busy all day Saturday, with more than 5,000 people making their way into the Atlantic City Convention Center. This was due in good part to the warm weather and sunshine so late in the season. Sunday traffic was a little bit lighter. Still, more than 3,000 people showed on the second day. While retail sales were good, a lot of dealers used the show to socialize with longtime friends and to replenish their stocks as they head into the late fall and winter show season.

“It’s been really good,” said Marvin Baer, owner of Ivory Tower Antiques in Ridgewood, NJ. “This show was just a little less than spectacular for me.”

John Fontaine, of Fontaine Auction Gallery in Pittsfield, Mass., used the weekend to sell some of his fine Arts & Crafts furniture and accessories and to spend some time with his family. For Jeff, the show yielded positive results, as well as a host of dealer-to-dealer business.

“Selling was decent,” he said. “Buying was great. The best part was that I met a lot of people and now have a couple dozen potential new clients.”

Besides the good buying, the draw of Atlantic City itself and the unseasonably warm weather, shoppers at the show were treated to two days of vintage fashion, including a special exhibition of classic clothing. This featured the dress worn by the very first winner of the Miss America Pageant in a display sponsored by Whitaker~Augusta Auction House, as well as a vintage fashion show put on by The Dressing Room.

In addition to the vintage-fashion theme, buyers filled the Atlantique City Marketplace floor waiting to have expert opinions on their treasures given by the show’s eight appraisers. Kyle Husfloen, Caroline Ashleigh, Alan Rosen, Dale Sorenson, Ellen Schroy, C. Jeanenne Bell, Carolyn Remmey and Linda Roberts appraised an array of items from more than 200 people.

Among the best items seen in the appraisal fair was a Tiffany gold and diamond pin, appraised by Schroy, that a jewelry lover with a good eye picked up for 25 cents a few years previous at a garage sale.

“What would you guess this piece is worth?” asked Ellen. Sensing she had something special, the owner said that she thought that it may have been worth as much as a few hundred dollars.

“I’m not a gemologist,” said Schroy, “so you’ll have to have the diamonds looked at by one, but I would conservatively estimate this piece in the $3,000-$5,000 range.”

Another exciting find was brought to the appraisal table of Antiques Roadshow regular Ashleigh. A collector of black Americana, who had brought good finds to Atlantique City in previous years, showed up with four silver and Bakelite lapel pins in the form of four musicians. They were worn by members of the late, great Josephine Baker’s band. It’s thought there were originally eight pins, with the whereabouts of the other four currently unknown. The pieces were appraised first by Ashleigh in the $4,000 range.

The pins were taken later to Bell, who, independent of Ashleigh’s estimate, arrived at a similar figure. If all eight of the pins were reunited, the set together could bring at least $10,000 and would certainly be a welcome addition to any number of fine museums.

The Atlantique City staff kept the show running with almost no snags. The dealer drive-in on Thursday morning was smooth, and the pack out on Friday night saw very few problems and little congestion.

“The staff of this show worked really hard to ensure that there were no problems,” said Bradley. “Months of planning went into every detail and I think that it showed nicely. I’m proud of this staff.”

Jeff Gokey, a jewelry dealer and proprietor of Earth Treasures Estates of Eaton Town, N.J., echoed this sentiment.

“I really like this show,” Gokey said. “For me, this is the fourth time I’ve been here and it keeps improving for me.”

Positive reviews were also heard from a number of customers. Among them was Susan Frailer Green, a buyer from Philadelphia who weekends in Atlantic City.

“I’ve been coming to this show for more than 15 years,” she said. “The quality here is always fabulous. I always buy well at this show.”

With the final call on the show floor at 5 p.m. on Oct. 21, the fall 2007 edition of the show came to a close, but not before more than 300 dealers renewed their contracts for the March 2008 show, which will feature a special baseball-themed exhibition, roundtable discussions with business luminaries and appearances by former baseball greats. The popular appraisal fair will return.

For more information on the 2008 shows, or to purchase, go to www.atlantiquecity.com.

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