In its third year, the Newport Antiques Show arrived in town this weekend to showcase 40 regional antique dealers selling fine carpets, antique artwork, etched wooden furniture, dishes, grandfather clocks, etc. Not surprisingly, the show featured a lot of nautical themed objects like paintings of ocean scenes and miniature wooden boats. The $12/person ticket cost supports the Newport Historical Society and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Newport County.
I can certainly appreciate the beauty of fine antiques, but knowing very little about them makes guessing prices a bit like an absurd Price is Right. For example, one painting I supposed worth $10,000 was being sold for $180,000.
The only thing I might consider buying was a 10×14 hand-threaded antique carpet from India circa 1920s sold by Oriental Rugs Ltd. At $9,500, it seemed a relative bargain (if you have the money) considering I saw much less interesting rugs for more money at ABC Carpet in New York City just recently.
We enjoyed the visit, but left empty-handed. Since we hadn’t quite gotten antiquing out of our system, we decided to go to Armory Antiques on Thames Street in downtown Newport, a better bet for people like us who care only what they themselves like and prefer a bargain. The store is open year-round with no admission charge and features antiques from over 100 dealers. It’s a much rougher style of antique hunting — with a variety of retro games and toys like Barbie dolls (some clothed, others not), dishes stacked high, paintings leaning on furniture, and plenty of knick knacks. Likely due to the economy, quite a bit is discounted. I saw a charming painted wooden crèche in the form of a candle holder — when lit, the fan above swirls causing the figurines inside to circle like a carousel. The price had been slashed three times down to “$95 firm.” In addition, several of the vendors offered 25% off formerly “firm” priced items.
At Armory Antiques, it feels more like you might discover some treasure — not of value as an investment, but of personal value. And in fact, an unsigned pastoral painting listed at $250 struck my eye, and I bought for $200 cash (see the photo at right).
Newport Antiques Show
365 Thames St
Newport, RI 02840