Massachusetts: Future, past mingle in Mass.

Let’s go shopping!

Fifty-five antiques and art dealers are represented by the Berkshire County Antiques and Art Dealers Association (BCAADA). Details about each shop are available online or send for a pamphlet.

Three must-visit shops are owned by Antique Markets. The five-story Cambridge Antique Market opened in 1990, according to manager Joyce Fontaine.

“Haverhill Antique Market is located in a ca 1882 restored shoe factory,” Fontaine added. “Provincetown Antique Market is open weekends from Memorial Day thru November. All three markets offer a great variety of quality inventory at reasonable prices.”

On Boston’s Beacon Hill, around the corner from the bar you saw on Cheers, is Charles Street. Many historians believe that the American antique trade started here. Enjoy exploring the historic neighborhood as you visit over 40 antique and decorator shops including Boston Antique Co-Op.

Located 30 miles north of Boston on Cape Ann, the shipbuilding town of Essex promotes itself as America’s Antique Capital. Most of its 35 antiques and restoration stores are within walking distance and stay open year round.

Those with a serious interest in nautical antiques need to make an appointment to visit Andrew Jacobson Marine Antiques in Ipswich.

Designers of the future mingle with collectors of the past at the Vintage Fashion and Textile Shows which are held in Sturbridge 3 times a year. Bornstein Shows include the Great Topsfield Antiques Show in June and the Boston Book, Print, and Ephemera Show in November.

Auctions are another great Bay State treasure. With galleries in Boston and Bolton, Skinner is a world-renowned auctioneer and appraiser of antiques and fine arts. Their dozens of highly trained specialists conduct frequent auctions and make numerous appearances, including on the PBS television program “Antiques Roadshow”.

For over 50 years Eldred’s Auction Gallery in East Dennis has provided personalized, expert service for buyers and sellers of fine and decorative arts.

Massachusetts antiques

The first American furniture was made by Massachusetts colonists in the early 17th century. The same men that built a house built its furniture. They had plenty of raw materials, especially oak and pine, but skilled labor was not readily available. Both the houses and the furniture in this style have practical, straight lines and heavy proportions.

Furniture makers were known as either joiners or turners. Joiners produced solid chests, trestle tables and stools similar in style to those used in medieval England. Wide boards were joined by cutting a hole, known as a mortise, in one piece of wood and a tongue, or tenon, in another. Yet another hole was drilled in these two boards so that a peg, or dowel, could be attached at a ninety-degree angle. Turners used a lathe, which is a woodworking machine that holds and rotates the wood against a shaping tool. They made a lot of stick furniture with decorative egg-shaped wooden ornaments.

Because the ravages of time, there are few pieces surviving from this era, and what is for sale is very expensive. Therefore, it is wise to seek expert advice before buying. Because of the importance of shipbuilding, Massachusetts is also known for nautical antiques. Linens and textiles from the mills around Lowell are another important contribution.

— Susan Eberman