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Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

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Atlanta Excitement Builds

Friday, January 24th, 2014

The beloved Atlanta Cathedral Show is nearly here–we finished loading the truck today!  Considered to be the finest antiques show in Atlanta, this marks the 43rd year of this remarkable show (details at:  http://www.cathedralantiques.org/ ).  Rich in every aspect of the fine and decorative arts, this grand show in an equally grand space offers something for everyone!  A $25.00 baby gift–absolutely!  A $20,000 grand country French Buffet a deux corps–absolutely!  A fine oriental rug or great print or superb painting–absolutely!  And fun parties and excellent lectures as well!

Here is a peak at a few pieces we are bringing–visit that website to link to other dealers and preview their offerings.

An elegant, perfectly proportioned London 18th century neo-classical bowfront chest of a diminutive size suitable for every room in the house:

Or the most charming Georgian mule chest in many years–warm pine, not oak, and delicately proportioned–a jewel found in Bath!  One of our favorite forms with a lift top storage and drawers below.  As so often, it features a brilliant use of panelling.

Rarely do we find a set of 12 antique chairs–so often the long sets have been split up by generations of shared inheritance (makes me crazy visiting the great houses of England where large sets abound because the eldest got it all!).  This sophisticated country French set in warm beech plays on the Montgolfier balloon form from seats to back splats–truly wonderful.  The bronze mounts are replacements for wooden ones that had been mostly lost over generations of use.

Of course it is not just furniture that is newly arrived and off to Atlanta–some of our delightful Vintage Pub Sign collection will also be featured including this charmingly appropriate sign:

We will have cabinets of porcelain, cases of silver and lovely warm French and English copper such as this signed French Stock Pot.

Hope to see you this week in Atlanta!

The Villa Beckons At Christmas

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

The Villa, home since 1990 to Whitehall Antiques, lends itself to decorating for Christmas and we always enjoy the process.  The Villa was built as Villa Tempesta by the renowned artist Gerard Tempest from the dismantling of Durham’s two greatest mansions, Four Acres (the Duke mansion) and Harwood Hall (the Watts mansion).  Carefully created over four years, the Villa charms all who enter.  Here it is decorated for the Season in a light evening rain.

And the inside can be equally lovely with flickering fires in the Oak Room and the original wine cellar/dining room on the lowest level next to the Palm Garden and fountain.  Here is the Oak Room with a large tree in the windows overlooking the deep ravine to a stream.

Once again the tree is filled with collectible Patricia Breen ornaments for sale to our clients (we have reserved them for many years) and at their original prices, not their collector prices.  Each delicately made of blown glass and perfectly painted, they are some of the finest ornaments created in the last century.  Come see them.

Antique and Vintage Overwhelm the New

Monday, November 4th, 2013

From design to quality of craftsmanship to price, almost all new items come up so very short!

During the Antique and Design Market Seminars I was speaking to the issue of why designers should steep themselves and their clients in the pleasures of antique and vintage furniture and decorative accessories.  Much of my talk was inspired by a perusal of several major shelter magazines the week before at the Birmingham Antiques and Design Show.  I was simply floored by the pricing displayed in promoting various new items.  Here are a few of the comparisons I found!

A page in Veranda, a gorgeous shelter magazine

In Veranda there was a section on the latest in design from France–fully sourced and priced for most items.  Let’s start in the lower right corner with the reproduction bonnetiere called a painted cabinet for $6,895.  How it is made is not totally clear, but I did scan their website and let’s just say not impressive.  Compare this to two larger painted examples I found on the show floor–a Swedish example for under 5,000 and a piece from Normandy for 1,800, both in painted surfaces on pine.

Swedish neo-classical armoire

The paint is certainly restored on this handsome piece but is architectural and simply dynamite design.  It is early 19th century and useful for myriad purposes from storage to clothes to sound systems.

Buffet a deux corps from Normandy (Caux region)

This charming cauchois painted pine piece dates to about 1830.  The dealer had offered it for 2,400 for several markets with no action so he chalk painted it for this show and repriced at 1,800–sold on day one!  The reason it had not sold were the missing pieces–still missing if you look carefully–which stood out like sore thumbs in natural pine (it had been stripped many years ago).  Also the color was not good.  Now it has sold for less than a third of the reproduction!

Homme debout

In our own shop is this splendid piece the same size as the reproduction from France yet read this description!

A country French homme debout of burl ash, ash & cherry wood. Early 19th century. A rare form. The upper & lower doors well carved with fabulous burl wood panels, centered by 2 drawers with burl insets, and with line inlaid diamond shaped panels of burl at the top and on the shaped apron. Original steel hinges, escutcheons & handles. Well developed escargot feet. Molded crown. 80 7/8″ h., 38″-43″ w., 22 1/2″-25 1/4″ d. $4,800



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Monday, August 19th, 2013

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David and Elizabeth

Life in BBC’s Cranford–the real Lacock

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

Because I love Lacock so much I thought I would share a few more photos.  This is a must stop for anyone visiting the Bath environs or the Cotswolds, just to the north.  We were buying in the entire region today, finding great period brass, wonderful boxes, superb chests of the Georgian period, an  exceptional little late 18th century sideboard, mirrors, garden ornaments, a delft rack and much more.  However, except for a shot of one warehouse, this is a visual treat for those who love the beauty of England.

Lacock will be instantly recognizable to all who love BBC dramas such as Cranford with Dame Judi Dench and her female buddies who dominated the town as well as those who love Harry Potter.  One of the most perfectly preserved towns in England, it spans in living buildings filled with ordinary folks over 8 centuries–with many of those 13th century buildings still in use (I am writing from one).

Beside the George Inn in the garden of the local doctor is what at first appeared to be a stunning tree in full bloom–but it is actually an old apple tree buried by an enormous climbing white rose!

A topiary castle in the garden with the rose beyond.

Get rid of the cars, put down dirt and straw and you have Cranford in the 19th century.

While half of the village is 13th-14th centuries, half is 18th century Georgian well represented by this view.  The entire village consists of four streets each a block to perhaps an eighth of a mile in length each–really tiny!

If you know the history of WWI–or have seen War Horse–this next photo will be no surprise–50% of the young men of the village killed during that terrible war, as was the case throughout England.  This is their monument.

One of my favorite free standing cottages in the village.  There are very few compared to the connected structures.

And the Lacock bus stop!

Next the warehouse of a dealer we have visited since the 1980–now in his mid 80′s and here I am turning 65 this month–how time flies.

And stepping out the door–a few flowers–all of the English seem to love pottering about in their gardens.

My next post will be from London for a bit of fun as my son-in-law Jeffrey and grandson Nelson meet us (I am writing this from our hotel a block from Lambeth Palace with views of the Houses of Parliament).

Another Adventurous Day

Sunday, July 7th, 2013

Today we worked more in warehouses, shops and private dealer’s homes in the West of England–here is a sampling of what we saw!

Can you spot in this great pile the one thing worth buying and the one thing we thought might be worth buying?


The elm and beech wheelback windsor was worth buying–the upside down 18th century chest with ivory escutcheons looked good.  Alas when pulled from the stack the sides were pine–original, but deadly in the American market where some provincial English furniture is simply not understood.  The front and top and feet of mahogany, the sides mahogany stained pine to save money in the 1780′s.

In the same warehouse we found and bought a wonderful Holland and Holland leather double shotgun case with completely labeled interior–no guns of course–and here it is (come see the new shipment to see the interior!)

We also found and bought Regency and Georgian furniture among the piles of dreadful stuff–and we encountered wonderful 1950′s-70′s furniture!

This set of dining furniture–solid teak–is “G Plan” furniture by England’s most important maker of modernism furniture of solid teak, crafted to the highest standards, each piece invariably stamped–a 7′ buffet with fascinating bells and whistles inside, a table with concealed leaf, 8 incredibly comfortable chairs and even a pair of tile inset end tables–al from the same home and the original care instructions included!  See the next photos.

In another warehouse on the airfield grounds–the English dealers love cheap digs in abandoned RAF airfields–this one has seen three generations born and raised!–we found three 18th century chairs and a nest of delicious teak and handhammered copper inset tables–again by Gomme with the G Plan labels.

Behind the wonderful tables and between two period chairs–a dreadful 1950′s “Regency” coffee table–what a lot of mental editing to separate the wheat from the chaff!

Also really stylish but by an unknown maker is this c. 1960 serving cabinet with lighted interior bar in the right cabinet, sliding glass doors, etc–teak and very smart!

And here it is closed up!

A few hours later we were in this garden of our finder of historic pub signs, just as England won Wimbledon Men’s for the first time in about 70 years!  But we were more entranced by The Dun Horse–isn’t he handsome and headed to Chapel Hill once he has a new frame (the pubs only sell the holders when they go out of business–not when they change a name or refresh a sign).

And tonight we drank and dined in this garden of the 14th century Sign of The Angel Inn in historic Lacock–more photos to follow another day!  It is midnight here and the sun set at 10:30.  Even with nine hours sleep last night, I am pooped!

View from my room.  And here is Elizabeth at 9:30 after dinner as we left for an hour’s stroll through the 14th century town of Lacock with its great tythe barn, etc–the entire town owned by the national Trust and often the setting for great BBC works featuring favorite actresses like Judi Dench and Maggy Smith–but that is another night of writing!


Two Days of Fun on the Chase for Antiques! (AND A RARE PEAK INTO BRITISH HISTORY!)

Saturday, July 6th, 2013

Here are a few photos and comments about the chase yesterday and today, from antiques warehouses that were once home to a mushroom growing enterprise to a car boot sale in the Southeast of England to an old hangar on another airfield in the Southwest of England–all in 28 hours time, not counting getting to England etc.  We are pooped but very very happy as today ended with the finding of a treasure trove of sophisticated Regency and Georgian furniture including chests, breakfront serving cabinet, center table, bookcase secretaire–one of the most unusual we have ever found–and much more.

But here are just some silly fun shots!!!!!

A tower of trunks and a Gatsbyesque camelhair vintage coat!

Piles of fantastically light weight aluminum luggage and trunks from the early days of flying when every ounce counted!  All polished to a bright as new sheen–not our thing but really fascinating!

7:30 am arrival at the car boot sale where everything from kitchen glasses to granny’s canning jars to genuine antiques turn up every week!  See the Whitehall Antiques facebook page for more finds at the boot sale (car trunk sale in America).

And here is what can be found–sadly only half of the original piece–but true and rarely understood history from the era when the sun never sat on the British Empire:  the case into which a campaign chest was fitted for transport to war or to run the colonial empire.

Here are photos of the case open and closed with the owner’s name on the front (apparently for someone in government service, as there is no military rank associated with the name of the owner).  Into this plain pine case was placed HALF of a two part, elegant brassbound campaign chest.  There was another case for the other half of the piece.  It is believed from old documents, paintings and photos of the 19th century that when camp was set-up, these cases were used as well as the chests removed from them–they became augmenting storage space.  You will see the side carrying handles are not the gorgeous brass found on the chest within–only heavy duty iron to be subjected to the various abuses of travel while protecting the elegant contents with its fine wood and flush mounted brass hardware.

This is a very rare part of campaign furniture history as most of these have been lost.  My daughter and business partner Elizabeth owned for a number of years the only complete one we have ever found–she even loaned it for the major exhibition of Campaign Furniture mounted by Nicholas A. Brawer.  Sadly it is not photographed in his magnificent book as he only learned of its existence after the book went to press.  Even more sadly, probably no one seeing this knew its use and no one will want only half a piece of history–only a museum would understand its value as a relic of a lost era.

July–It Must Be England!

Saturday, July 6th, 2013

Unbelievably we have brought glorious sunny weather to England!  Everyday for our buying trip highs in the upper 70′s and zero rain–same is predicted next week in Paris.  I will put up some photos soon, but am falling asleep now and the camera is still not ready to download into the computer to share the first photos.

Today we attended our first ever car boot sale–think junk to antiques out of the trunks of cars covering an entire retired airfield.  We had so much fun and found wonderful small items from a period regency child’s chair to a bamboo canterbury, from a lovely Imari plate to a fabulous snoozing cast stone garden gnome, from antique tools for carpenters and furniture makers to the best horse brasses we have seen in years.  These events happen all over England and on a day like today, a couple of hours (we got up at 6:45 am to do it after flying in the night before–can you say zombies?) is a blast!

High Point Closing Report

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Due to minor but tiring surgery I am slow getting this written.  The show continued to be busy, as did the entire town, to the last day.  What we experienced in the Antique and Design Center this year was a bit different than prior years–sales boomed from the opening day with large crowds, then gradually slowed a bit to the end. Prior years began more slowly and built to a crescendo–it seems that the  AADC has become the first stop in High Point for many leading designers.  And, for the first time we were still making sales as we began to dismantle the booth–delightful new clients from China and from The United Abar Emirates with major design businesses in those countries.  The Chinese couple took the opportunity to drive over to our shop as well to make purchases.  Perhaps most intriguing with these clients, their passions were European ceramics  (shall we see more fake Meissen in Asian booths next season?).

Anyway here are three booth photos presented before and after to show how things changed through the week as shipments went out around the country.

Entrance to joint Whitehall/Grissom Collection Booth

Same view at end of event

The massive faux tapestry once behind jewelry display is gone, as is the large French dining table down the middle and the French modernism rattan chairs once hanging over the arched side entrance to our booth.

Side View

Before a wonderful French rack/shelf above an imposing Delft Garniture Set.

Same view, different angle

The French dining table  gone, the garniture gone, the rack gone, at the back the lovely Homme debout being dismantled for delivery, the box on stand tagged for shipment, and the Regency Chiffonier gone.  Equally fun,  the gorgeous Rose Mandarin and Rose Medallion pieces decorating the buffet were brought from Florida by a client for us to sell in her behalf!  High Point is a great meeting point for many reasons.


Empty arch

Now we are looking forward to a busy summer and fall including the Fall 2013 Edition of The High Point Furniture Market–already thinking about the Fall Look for the booth!