Sara Godwin

Archive for the ‘Antiques’ Category

San Francisco Fall Antiques Show: An Exercise in the Unexpected

In Antiques, Baby Boomers, Luxury, San Francisco, Travel, Women's Travel on October 25, 2014 at 8:23 am
$350,000 worth of gold au natural

$350,000 worth of gold au natural

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Not all that glitters is gold, or silver, for that matter.  The proof is in this spectacular glass chaise brought from Paris by Steinitz (Steinitz@steinitz.fr)

Not all that glitters is gold, or silver, for that matter. The proof is in this spectacular glass chaise brought from Paris by Steinitz (Steinitz@steinitz.fr)

A cache of 19th century gold coins found buried in tin cans in the Sierras  by a couple out walking their dog.  The estimated value of the  stash: $10 million.

A cache of 19th century gold coins found buried in tin cans in the Sierras by a couple out walking their dog. The estimated value of the stash: $10 million.

San Francisco has three major social events in the Fall: Only one of them does not require a ball gown. That would be the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show in the Festival Pavilion at Fort Mason, going on right now, and you’re invited. Designed as a fundraiser for Enterprise high school students, it draws everyone in San Francisco who has money or wishes they did. The antiques dealers come from all over the United States and many from Europe to create a brilliantly curated collection of some of the world’s rarest and most precious objects — and those objects always encompass an element of surprise.

The biggest buzz this year was an object that showed no artist’s vision and no craftsman’s skills; basically, it’s a lump. A brilliant lump, to be sure, but nonetheless, it’s a lump: A huge, shiny gold nugget weighing more than six pounds (the dealer let me hold it!) found recently in California’s Gold Country and valued at $350,000. It’s in the first booth on the right as you enter the show, and displayed with it are the uncirculated mint-condition 19th century gold coins found last year in a cache in the Sierra Nevada, the cache valued at $10,000, 000. And that’s just the start!

The show runs today and tomorrow, the cost is $15 per person (the catalog alone is worth the price of admission), and the variety of things to see that people hold precious will intrigue and fascinate you. The people-watching and street scene fashion is also fabulous. Coco Chanel would be proud. Go now.

Photos to follow, so keep checking back. I’ll be posting throughout the day.

A mystery menorah, believed to have been made in Eastern Europe over a century ago, no one seems to know when it got here or how it got from there to here. (danielsteinantiques .com)

A mystery menorah, believed to have been made in Eastern Europe over a century ago, no one seems to know when it got here or how it got from there to here. (danielsteinantiques
.com)

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The Insider’s San Francisco …

In Antiques, Baby Boomers, Grandparent, hummingbirds, Kids, Luxury, Parent, San Francisco, Travel, Women's Travel on April 23, 2014 at 5:40 pm

Take an extra day or two before and after your business trip and explore San Francisco, referred to by locals as ‘The City’ as though there were no other. And there isn’t, at least, not another city like San Francisco.  Here’s a collection of (mostly) free stuff to do that you really shouldn’t miss.

 

Wave Organ • The Wave Organ, a natural acoustic experience listening to the sound of San Francisco Bay, is located at the east end of the Marina jetty at San Francisco Marina behind the St.Francis Yacht Club. Built like a hobbit house with benches, the Wave Organ has quirky little nooks and crannies for listening to the sound of the water swirling in and out of   variously shaped pipes, pianissimo or allegro, echoed or amplified. Rhythmic, soothing, it’s a lovely place to just sit in the sun and let the seagulls provide the counter-point. It’s best at high tide, but barring that, try for sunset and watch the sun disappear into the Pacific Ocean behind the Golden Gate Bridge.

 

South Park • South Park is a little piece of Paris tucked between Second and Third Streets, not far from AT&T Park. The entire park is currently undergoing a major renovation that includes new trees, new turf, shiny new architecturally innovative play equipment , as well as new benches and picnic tables.  Word on the street is that the beautifully redesigned space will open to the public at the end of February, 2017.

Once the chain link fencing comes down, you can channel Cate Blanchett in ’Blue Jasmine’ by sitting on the bench where Jasmine quietly divorced reality at the end of the film. You’ll find that bench  at the end of the park closest to Second Street, across from the Mexican restaurant.

A small urban island of spreading trees, bright flowers, green grass, and sunny benches, filled with children playing and people walking dogs of every shape and size, it is reminiscent of the jewel-like parks that contribute so much of the charm of  Parisian neighborhoods.

The seriously Parisian part is at the hyper-trendy The Butler and The Chef bistro at the opposite end of the park, open only for breakfast and lunch. The French toast is made with brioche and the ham quiche has huge chunks of Parisian ham. Try not to swoon.

• Budget time for great budget shopping at San Francisco’s best insider shopping destinations: The best consignment shop ever is Goodbyes (actually two shops across the street from each other) at 3464 Sacramento Street in Presidio Heights. Goodbyes carries popular brands (Gap, J.Jill, Chico), American designers (Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Michael Kors), and the serious stuff: Chanel, Dior, and Armani as well as a wild variety of boots and shoes.  The vintage selections include designer purses, capes, coats,  and furs.  Meander down Sacramento Street wherever you will.   The shops are uniformly wonderful, offering everything from custom bathing suits  to hand-embroidered baby clothes to raincoats and warm sweaters for dogs.

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• Want more shopping?   Designer shops featuring everything from clothes to home furnishings, from antiques to boutiques, from sidewalk cafes to busy restaurants are found on Fillmore Street. Walk either direction from Sacramento and Fillmore. Union Street between Gough and Divisidero Streets is chock-full of art galleries, interior design shops, luxury day spas, and great local hangouts like Perry’s (1944 Union Street; 415/922-9022) or the Balboa Café (3199 Fillmore at Greenwich; 415/921-3944). Do a bit of time travel at  the 1861 Octagon House at  2645 Gough Street at Union Street  (415/441-7512). It’s only open on second Sundays, and second and third Thursdays of the month, from 12:noon to 3:pm, and the house is furnished in period antiques.  Don’t miss the charming park-like garden just behind the Octagon House;  It’s a great place to spot hummingbirds when the fuchsias are in bloom.

 

 

 

 

Xanadu• So far, you  haven’t hit a single chain or department store. For those, try Union Square, on Post and Geary Streets between Powell and Mason. Make it an authentically San Francisco experience by wandering down Maiden Lane on the east side of Union Square. Check out  the only Frank Lloyd Wright building in San Francisco at 140 Maiden Lane for a uniquely dramatic take on how commercial space should be designed.

• Just a couple of blocks off Union Square is a treasure house of rare books: Antiquarian book dealer Richard Haines’ bookshop, Argonaut (876 Sutter Street between Bush and Jones). Argonaut houses a superb collection rare books, maps, and ephemera of San Francisco and early California. Neat note: Argonaut was the inspiration for the bookstore in Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Vertigo’; as Hitchcock himself put it, “This is what a bookshop should be.” Give yourself ample time to browse; once you’re there, it’s hard to tear yourself away.

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• The hottest spot in town  is Valencia Street in the Mission District. It’s a wild and wonderful mix of hot new eateries, pop-up stores, funky second-hand shops (one of which shares space with a bike rental shop called Public), traditional Hispanic markets with outdoor produce displays featuring tropical fruits and vegetables , and the best hot chocolate place on the planet. Go to Dandelion (740 Valencia;415/349-0942), on Valencia between 18th and 19th Streets, and order the European hot chocolate.   

It’s a mouthful of ecstasy. Serious chocolate occurs in other forms as well, but the European hot chocolate qualifies as an epicurean epiphany. (Photo credit:  M. DeCoudreaux)

Scallop Chairs

 

• At the opposite end of Valencia is STUFF (up toward Market Street, at 150 Valencia Street; 415/864-2988), a huge antiques collective with three stories of, well, stuff, from mid-century furniture to name designer costume jewelry to Japanese fishing net floats to stainless steel plated custom office furniture to architectural artifacts, and this description barely scratches the surface. They always have coffee, and often have cookies or cake free for the nibbling. STUFF Jewelry

• Speaking of eating, San Francisco has some of this country’s best food, bar none. The James Beard Foundation recently named Chef Charles Phan’s Slanted Door Restaurant at the Ferry Building at the foot of Market Street the best restaurant in America.

Use OpenTable.com (http://www.OpenTable.com) to book your table well in advance of arrival; reservations are notoriously hard to score.

For a local neighborhood feel, hit the 102-year-old landmark Swan Oyster Depot at 1517 Polk Street (Open 8:am – 5:30pm; 415/673 – 2757) on Russian Hill. Swan’s offers every type of oyster known to man as well as San Francisco’s native Dungeness crab, shrimp, and a superb clam chowder. Go early: There are only 20 stools at the bar. Lunchtime almost always has a line out the door, but it moves quickly.

• After decades at the corner of Valencia and Market Street, the immense art supplies shop called Flax (415/552-2355) has moved into space at Fort Mason. If you love paper, notebooks, journals, diaries, Filofax, Moleskine, sketch books, water colors, fountain pens, great pencils, and all the other tools and accoutrements of putting your heart on paper, you will fall hopelessly, helplessly in love at Flax. Click on the link for  their website at www.flaxart.com to see the scale of their offerings. If you’re smart,  you’ll take along two friends:  One  to hold your wallet, and the other to carry a crow bar to pry you out of there at closing time.

The visitors bonus they never even mention? The Fort Mason location offers glorious views of San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Marin Headlands, Alcatraz, Angel Island, and a very good chance to spot sea lions and harbor seals, not to mention seagulls and pelicans.  Just steps away from Flax, dine at Greens, the nationally recognized vegetarian restaurant. With a seat by the window, you can watch  yachts maneuver in and out of the San Francisco Marina, and container ships putting out to sea.

You are going to love discovering San Francisco!

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.

San Francisco Fall Antiques Show: Objects of Desire For Which You’ll Probably Need A Handkerchief

In Antiques, San Francisco, Travel on October 24, 2012 at 11:25 pm

Just got back from the first Press Preview of the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show which opens tomorrow, Thursday, October 25, 2012  at  Fort Mason Festival Pavilion at 10:30 am sharp. Be there when the doors open, and don’t forget your handkerchief: The exquisite,  intricately-worked objets are pretty much guaranteed to make you drool.  Centered around a nautical theme, the variety alone is enough to turn your head inside-out.  The lenders displays range from whale’s tooth scrimshaw to antique Canton porcelain bowls memorializing a shipwreck, with depictions of a three-masted sailing ship, both pre-and-post tempest.  There are children’s motorboat pond sailers and a massive ship’s model that anyone ever intrigued by the mystique of  sea-faring would cheerfully do despicable things to possess.  And all this is before you get to the dealers, who have come from seven different countries to tempt, and I must say, they have done a splendid job of doing so.  I found myself lured even by things in which I have never before so much as expressed an interest.

The first display is of an armada of 120 ships,  deconstructed and reconstructed, in obsessive detail. It is perfectly possible to lose yourself — and all sense of time — examining the hulls, sails, rigging, sheets, hatches and more than there is time for me to describe or you to read.  First displayed in Venice, California, they drew crowds day and night, with children as fascinated as their parents.  Across the center aisle, Nicholas Brawer  (28 East 72nd Street at Madison Avenue, NYC; 212/772-2664/

http://www.nicholasbrawer.com)  will turn your head around 180 degrees with fully restored stainless steel and brass Nikon Japanese Naval binoculars dating from World War II.  They are beautiful even if they were not functional, and, as it happens. they are.  No home with a view of the Bay should be without one of these; it will make everything else in your living fade to insignificance. With the America’s Cup looming large on the horizon, what further justification, what additional incentive,  could one possibly require?

There is more, much more, but I must shower and change to be back in time for the show’s Preview Gala tonight.  I’ve solemnly sworn not to post any photos until after 1o:pm tonight, so check in for the review of the Preview Gala and photos tomorrow.  The San Francisco Fall Antiques Show runs from Thursday, October 25th to Sunday, October 28th, so don’t miss it. Tomorrow: The French book-matched tortoise-shell and brass marriage casque dating from the reign of King Louis XVI at Steinitz/Booth 32, the mechanical cow at Obsolete/Booth 40, and the vintage wool bathing costumes at American Garage/Booth 8.