Atlantique City exhibitors enjoy busy show

Dealer who saves his best for this show said: ‘The first hour was unrelenting’

Joe Mattis knows why he saves his best merchandise for Atlantique City: If you time the market just right, you’ll have a busy two-day show.

The Black Swan, W.Va., dealer of Czechoslovakian glass said his longtime customers could not wait to get through the gate to see a stunning collection from Texas. “We’ve sold 20-25 pieces already, the first hour was unrelenting,” Mattis said of the March 25-26 show in Atlantic City, N.J.

Sunny skies and a strong Saturday morning gate count meant a busy show floor. The show was filled with sporatic big-ticket sales including an unusual Victorian footbath that found a new home for $4,300 and a Tiffany lamp that sold for $18,000.

Several dealers said they were impressed at Thursday and Friday’s dealer-to-dealer sales, with some reporting that they made up their booth costs thanks to the early purchases.

Mattis anticipated a busy booth and had his friend Kevin Inman along for help. “We sold three pieces of glass to one lady, and she’s agonizing over another,” Inman said during the show. “This is all fresh merchandise from a big collection in Texas. A lot of regular customers from previous shows knew it was going to be the first time out, and they all came in for it today.”

What was the piece the customer agonized over? It was the tallest example of Czech Vaseline glass, with a drapery effect, produced from the Kralik Factory, a fine Deco piece.

In his day job in real life, Inman is an operating room technician. He defined Czechoslovakian glass as “the last of the affordable finely crafted art glass that is not being reproduced. It is art,” said Inman.

For the first time, the show featured a cocktail reception Friday evening in honor of Antique Trader’s 50th birthday. The party recognized longtime Antique Trader staff including Linda Kunkel, a 30-year employee, and Kyle Husfloen, editor of the Antique Trader Price Guide and an editor for more than 35 years. Also recognized for his years of service to the magazine and Atlantique City was Ted Jones, a former publisher and show manager.

More than 375 attendees, made up of show dealers, business partners and advertisers, sipped wine and shared birthday cake with Trader staff. A presentation during the party held a few surprising announcements as well as the release of a special project that will be announced in the pages of Antique Trader in the coming weeks.

The event was hosted by eBay, which also sponsored two $500 shopping sprees for attendees at the show.

One shopping spree winner knew exactly where his cash was going. Dennis Gaynor of Forest Hills, N.Y., bought a Royal Doulton figure from dealer Robert Fenimore. The $675 figure was intended to be a gift for Gaynor’s wife, who was going to pick him up at the show.

Arthur Rubin of Yorktown Heights, N.Y., was the winner of the $500 shopping spree on Saturday, and selected a movie poster from the Cinemabilia booth.

Dealers brought quality pieces to the show:

- A Chinese court robe, circa 1870s on prominent display by Haig’s of Rochester, Mich., was found in England. This beautiful example was slip woven tapestry (Kossu weaving) dazzled in distinct shades of purples and golds. “Robes like this one are difficult to find in China,” Haig said. “So many dealers are now finding them in England, and selling them back to the Chinese.”

A buyer for items such as this at the Atlantique City Show would be a collector from Hong Kong or New York. Also found on display here was a beautiful selection of jewelry.

n Two dealers from California, who flew in especially to spend two days at the show, showed off their purchases for the first day, which included two posters and two calendars. They were delighted with the calendar they found with the Chessie cat, which railroad collectors will remember from the ad campaign for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad.

- Betty Hannigan, Way Back When, said, “I had the best Saturday ever in dollar sales, done this show since the first time they had it in this building. I love this nice show, nice crowds, and they come to buy. I sold a lot of Mr. Peanut yesterday because of the exhibition, they sold from $12 up to $95. I sold a lot of Hawaii things — some World War II slicker pictures, which were sold in vending machines back then. I had 10 of them and have one left.”

- Terry Wright of Child’s Play Antiques, Marietta, Ga., searches for old scales like Dayton or Toledo brands, and other small appliances like old Kitchen Aid malt mixers and restores them to pristine condition. Even if the articles have paint worn and no shine, he can make them look like a streamlined piece of art to display on your kitchen counter.

Wright blasts the metal, and takes apart the appliance, restores and puts them back together. He then paints with auto paint in appealing colors, like hunter green and maroon, and has the brass polished and lacquered. The final detailing — pin striping — he has done by an expert, thus creating a product that any professional chef (or wanna-be chef) would be proud to display as much as a work of art as a functional kitchen appliance. Prices ranged from $600 to $900 for the scales he brought to Atlantique City.

- L& Z Jewelry and Gifts, Farmington Hills, Mich., specializes in antiques and estate jewelry. Laura and Janet travel to Europe four times a year to buy jewelry. Their Italian carved cameos were mostly shell or coral, all hand carved. Janet told us, “We have a company in Italy that we take our cameos to and they verify if they are hand carved or laser cut, we’ve worked with them for many years, they assure us, and give us a certificate. Some are hand signed. For Italian cameos from the 1940s, the beauty is in the carving not the age. Prices for cameo pins start from as little as $100 up to $4,000 to $5,000.”

The show also was an opportunity for auction houses and collector’s groups to meet with the public. Heritage Auction Galleries in booth 1440 offered free appraisals and held contests and drawings for a free iPod and a $200 credit to one of their upcoming auctions. Perhaps the lucky winner will use it for Heritage’s April 14-15 sale featuring the Maria Elena Holly collection of Buddy Holly Memorabilia.

Heritage made the most of their appearance and brought along music and entertainment memorabilia expert Doug Norwine among others. The company secured several major consignments during the show.

The American Breweriana Association was giving away a free collectible beer can in their booth, where they were promoting the opening in 2007 of the National Brewery Museum in the Mississippi River town of Potosi, Wis., a town of only 726 residents. The Potosi Brewery distributed Potosi beer from 1852 to 1972, throughout the Midwest and as far as California. Why Potosi, and not Milwaukee, St. Louis or Golden, Colo.? Because the town was already committed to restoring the brewery, and its plans were already developed beyond those of other cities vying for the museum. Plus, it’s a greater representation of all breweries in the country, not just the well-known branded ones.

Loy S. Harrell of Hawks Nest Antiques and Decoys, Hinesburg, Vt., and author of books on decoys published by KP Books, (a division of F+W Publications which also publishes Antique Trader) said the show was one big adventure. “I like the ambiance of coming here, the feeling of excitement and the crowd,” Harrell said. “Mostly I like the opportunity to sell and find here. Invariably, I find things here — it’s like an Easter egg hunt for decoys.”

Longtime toy dealer Bob Shirk, owner of Old Time Toys, said that once the crowds are in the door, it’s up to a dealer to make their money.

“You can’t be upset — you have the crowds, as long as you have the crowds, and as long as you have the traffic, then it’s a question of merchandise — did you bring the right thing, and did you have it at the right price, that’s where it’s at. I did less than I was hoping for, but I did all right; I made expenses. Traffic was there, I was able to buy well, I bought a number of pieces. I can’t complain.”

Even the state of New Jersey gets into the act at Atlantique City. The show is the only source for the state to sell off unclaimed property. Steve Harris, Chief of Unclaimed Property for the State of New Jersey, told Antique Trader the show is the only place where they auction off unclaimed property, both spring and fall. This was the third year. The first year had some problems, but they are now completely computerized, so the process is very easy. On Sunday there were 200 lots offered with minimum bids ranging from $75 to $8,000.

The next Atlantique City Show is Oct. 14-15. Visit www.atlantiquecity.com for updates.

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