Sara Godwin

San Francisco Fall Antiques Show: See-Worthy Antiques

In Antiques, Baby Boomers, San Francisco, Travel on October 25, 2012 at 10:43 pm

What do you do when the opening Gala party for the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show you’ve been working on for a year suddenly collides with the San Francisco Giants first game of  baseball’s World Series? Simple: Set up a huge flat-screen television tuned to the game in the Pavilion lecture hall  (CHECK),  tell the the caterer to show up with a mini-hot dog stand, complete with condiments  (CHECK), organize the roving waiters to offer a small-scale version of Playland’s iconic It’s-Its (CHECK), and somehow reconcile yourself to the fact that some of San Francisco’s most elegantly-attired antiques cognoscenti are going to be sporting black-and-orange baseball caps  (SIGH).  It worked.  It was a huge hit with the Gala-goers; and when the Giants won the game (Sandoval hit THREE home runs!), the roar of the crowd could be heard all along the  waterfront from Fort Mason to the Marina Green.

The women were stylish, the men were debonair,  and the buzz was electric.  Diane B. Wilsey and Diane Keaton were both observed deeply engaged in separate conversations as I wandered through the Pavilion with Ben Marks, Senior Editor at CollectorsWeekly.com.  Collectors were deeply engaged in conversations with the dealers and fellow collectors. Still others in attendance were deeply engaged in the caviar, oysters on the half-shell, mounds of shrimp, three sorts of pasta,  specifically, variations on a theme of ricotta ravioli, baby lamb chops, smoked salmon,  and more.  Then there were the desserts:  doll-size blueberry tartlets, chocolate pots de creme, fresh raspberries and strawberries, and a choice of tortes.  It was perfectly possible to eat an entirely healthy, green-based meal, but I sincerely hope no one did. This was a night for delicious indulgence.  Not incidentally, every penny raised by the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show goes to support Enterprise for High School Students, which teaches youngsters everything they need to know to get and keep a job, and then offers a job board as well.  In hard-pressed times, there is no more useful service.

Drawing dealers from New York, Paris, and London as well as the Bay Area, the wealth of offerings ranges far and wide. Steinitz/32 (77 rue de Faubourg St. Honore, Paris) , one of France’s leading dealers in 17th and 18th century antiques has framed his space in English boiserie recently purchased from the Huntington Library collection, then filled the space with pieces that would be treasures in any home in any country in any century. The marriage casque of book-matched tortoiseshell, pewter, and brass that I mentioned yesterday is one; a superb architect’s desk that opens up like a flower with a drafting board and shelves and multiple moving parts is another.  This is the sort of space that requires the  judicious use of a handkerchief to remain within the boundaries of socially acceptable.  One really ought not to breathe heavily and drool, however much one admires such splendid things.

Striking a different note entirely are the adjacent spaces, Jeff R. Bridgman American Antiques/18 and Obsolete/40.  American Antiques/18  (www.jeffbridgman.com)   specializes in beautifully framed American flags with widely  varying numbers of stars and stripes.  There is also a  flag of the California Republic, complete with grizzly bear, and others equally effective at bringing our history home. Next door, Obsolete/40 (www.obsoleteinc.com) specializes in the whimsical, with a mechanical cow that captured my heart, and and an equally charming little gray elephant that appears to be emphatically shaking its head “NO”.  (Whether or not you view this as a commentary on the upcoming elections depends entirely on your politics.)

From London, John Jaffa/44 (www.antique-enamels.co.uk) has brought a writer’s travel box, filled with inkwells, letter openers,  and a wax seal .  By comparison with how badly I want this, Jimmy Carter knows absolutely nothing about lusting in one’s heart .  Jaffa also has dozens of  exquisite enamel  Faberge boxes by  as well as delicately contrived silver ‘vinaigrettes’ to carry my lady’s smelling salts should a tight corset, a crowd, or close weather indicate an impending swoon. Spencer Marks/13 (www.spencermarks.com) from Southampton, Massachusetts also has ‘vinagrettes’ along with a full canteen of Tiffany’s ‘American Chrysanthemum’ sterling silver in immaculate condition.

Just for pure fun, take a look at American Garage/8 (www.americangarageantiques.com).  Looking for wonderful wooden signs ?  They’re here.  Always wanted to pull the lever to order a steamship ‘full steam ahead’?  It’s here.  Have a pool house that needs decorating with vintage wool bathing costumes?  They’re all right here.

There’s more, of course, much more.  That’s the reason that you need to go to the Festival Pavilion at Fort Mason between now and Sunday, October 28, 2012 to see the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show for yourself.  It’s open daily from 10:30 am to 7:pm Thursday, Friday and Saturday, from 112 noon to 5:pm Sunday.   Tickets are $20 at the door and children under 12 are free.   The Lectures tent will be used for a really good series of lectures, so check those out in your program when you arrive. You can check on the World Series scores on your iPhone or just ask any passing stranger.

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