Fantastic finds abound in Hub antique shops
by Marketa Hulpachova
In a city like Boston that so values its history, it’s no surprise there are lots of tangible artifacts to be found here—if only you know where to look. Panorama visited six of the area’s top antique stores to find out what treasures customers might unearth on a typical day.
A Room With a Vieux
361 Boylston St., Brookline, 617-277-2700; 20 Charles St., 617-973-6600
As its name suggests, this lavish merchant specializes in French antiques. With locations in Brookline and Charles Street, A Room with a Vieux (a play on the French adjective meaning “old”) boasts handsome, chateau-style Louis XIV furniture that dates back to 1860. Favorite find: The stunning 1854 gilded Erard piano (pictured, right) in the Charles Street showroom is co-owner Jeffrey Diamond’s great love. “It’s the same type that Beethoven played on,” he says. Priced at approximately $90,000, the hand-painted instrument has been in the shop for two years and is, as Diamond says, “a sight to behold.”
177 Newbury St., 617-262-0780
When Marcoz Antiques first opened in the Back Bay 34 years ago, it had substantial competition. Today, as one of only a handful of surviving antique shops on Newbury Street, its clientele spans the globe. The shop’s inventory of unusual, highly decorative European imports is best summed up by one of its greatest assets—a 6-foot, 1828 William IV leather daybed from the estate of the English Baron de Rothschild (pictured left). Favorite find: The space’s grandiose array of décor is also home to whimsical paraphernalia, among them an 1828 Sheffield plate-covered sandwich warmer (pictured left with store manager Fred Campbell), priced at $1200. “Back then, the kitchen in the house was usually far away from the dining room, so people had a lot of different devices to keep food warm,” says storeowner Marc Glasberg. “This one, I must say, is a bit quirky.”
1076 Cambridge St., 617-234-0001
As eclectic as it is extensive, the 6 rooms of this 10-year-old emporium in Inman Square are filled with home décor from all styles and eras. Victorian furniture is housed under the same roof as mod umbrella holders, but shop owner Rob Werner is most fascinated by 1940s design. “I like the simplicity of it—it’s well thought out,” he says. “But people usually go for the more traditional stuff.” Favorite find: The furniture jungle in a back room of Werner’s store hides his antique of choice—a 1910 empire-style dresser with brass inlay (pictured inset, right, with Werner). “It’s a very classical-looking thing,” Werner says. The French mahogany has lived in the shop for ten years but recently sold for $1400. “It’s a handsome, tall piece,” says Werner, patting the smartly designed cupboards. “It makes a statement.”
93 Charles St., 617-367-1950
Nestled in historic Beacon Hill, the row of shops lining Charles Street is regarded as Boston’s antiquing Mecca. In the heart of this cluster lies Upstairs and Downstairs, a quaint place full of items your great grandmother would have loved. A draw for locals as well as tourists, the shop boasts rustic finds like alabaster lamps, country cabinets, and ironstone house ware made popular again by Martha Stewart. Favorite find: Shop patron Greg Burke grins proudly as he holds up his latest purchase—an 1890 porcelain Copeland fish platter. “It’s for my daughter—she loves fish,” he says. For Burke, a Gloucester, Mass. native, the $220 hand-painted dish (pictured left, inset, with Burke) is a reminder of his hometown’s golden days. “Gloucester was once the greatest fresh fish port on the coast,” he says.
Cambridge Antique Market
201 Msgr. O’Brien Highway, Cambridge, 617-868-9655 The historic brick building near Lechmere Station originally housed a casket factory. It now accommodates the spoils of over 150 dealers whose diverse collections display antiques, collectibles and memorabilia from all eras. Wander through this 4-story labyrinth and find everything from faux fur to antiquarian books to oak dressers. Favorite find: “It has some age,” says customer Linda Anderson of Winchester, Mass., admiring her newly acquired wall hanging (pictured right with Anderson). Ornamented with floral carvings, the yard-long, $45 decoration is a steal for Anderson, who has a weakness for old handiwork. “Like anything handcrafted, it’s beautiful,” she says.
Massachusetts Antiques Cooperative
100 Felton St., Waltham, 781-893-8893
Tucked away on a quiet side street in Waltham, Massachusetts Antiques draws throngs of devoted patrons, many of whom reside in Boston’s suburban communities. Well-guarded by Mei-Mei, the canine co-owner, the shop offers a wide and eclectic range of antiques and collectibles, offering pieces from ancient times all the way up to the 1970s. Favorite find: Co-owner Jerry Freidus’ pet piece is a 19th century blue Favrille glass vase (pictured left with Freidus). Crafted by Louis Comfort Tiffany, the son of the renowned jeweler, it’s marked with the maker’s telltale initials and retails for approximately $1200. “We don’t see a lot of Tiffany anymore— it’s becoming rarer and rarer,” says Freidus. “What they produce today, we call Ti-phony.”
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Brimfield Antiques & Collectibles Show
Rte. 20, Brimfield
For six days each September, the western Massachusetts hamlet of Brimfield sees its population of 3,000 multiply more than tenfold as herds of antique dealers and collectors from all over the world saturate the mile-long stretch of grounds just off the Mass. Pike. “It’s a cultural safari,” says Massachusetts antique dealer Staci Hartwell, who has frequented the Brimfield antique show for the past 20 years. This year, the festivities are held September 5-10 from 6 a.m.–6 p.m. and feature over 5,000 vendors. “It’s an incredible experience,” Hartwell says. “People walk around with briefcases filled with cash.…I’ve seen people take vintage clothing off their backs and sell it—there are no rules.” The event draws a crowd of collectors and dealers from eclectic backgrounds—from doctors and lawyers to Indian chiefs, all of whom share a supreme savvy and passion for all things antique. As a result, historical relics such as Judy Garland’s Wizard of Oz ruby slippers, authentic astronaut suits and first editions of Uncle Tom’s Cabin autographed by Harriet Beecher Stowe have turned up in the past. “When I see things like that, I just get the jitters,” Hartwell says. “They are selling our history—I find that very moving.” Refer to listing.