There have been three disturbing things happen during the Winter Show from my point of view as an exhibitor. They are equally unsettling and although my show has been better than last year, it by no means qualifies as a success.

The first thing is the paucity of decorators that I have seen attending the show. This is a travesty.

The second is that I learned that the head curator of European Decorative Arts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art did not know of “Museum Night” nor was she invited to the show.

Lastly, I was contacted by “Southern Accents” a lifestyle magazine that is doing a spot on New York One tomorrow morning to lend them some antiques. The editor I talked to was unawares that the Winter Antique Show was in progress.

This situation is unacceptable. If this was a major corporation, heads would roll or it would be out of business. The answer, of course, is publicity, but nothing is quite so simple. Show management is juggling a host of problems, the most pressing of which is a new landlord. But the show, called venerable by the “New York Times” yesterday is slipping. For venerable read any of the following including, old fashioned, fuddy-duddy and irrelevant.

Is the show the best that it can be? I don’t think so. It needs a great deal of effort from people with a clear vision of what the show should look like both next year and in ten years and in fifty years. The work to change things needs to start immediately.


The Winter Antiques Show is in its final three days. It always seems like a marathon affair, particularly when there are special event nights that go until 9:30. The two this year were ill advised and yet the concept should work. I would prefer feting the interior design trade than either museum curators or young collectors.

The next fair for me is next week in Palm Beach. It is also a nine day show and it is a very expensive show. The perils of doing such an expensive show are self evident if you don’t find a client. However, when you do, you feel vindicated. Palm Beach is a bonus at least for a few days particularly after the  intense cold of today. It is a little weird to go to work at noon in bright warm sunshine and emerge from the show in the dark. Antiques are not a nine to five job by any stretch of the imagination.

The Winter Show really is the crown jewel in antiques shows in America. It was one of the first and it deserves its reputation in so many ways. It is disappointing that it often gets characterized as an American or Americana show because it is a great deal more than that. As an English furniture dealer, I can attest to the fact that there are great English decorative arts to be had as well as great continental furniture. Would that we would all be promoted for the great quality of the fair, not for our individual stands.


Knowledge is like a force of gravity. The pull that knowledge has is similar to the force that gravity has in connecting us to the earth. Knowledge connects you to an understanding of life because there are laws that you must obey to obtain knowledge. It almost doesn’t matter what kind of knowledge we are talking about either. The struggle to be adept at something connects you to life with a capital “L”.

My knowledge is about English furniture in specific and aesthetics in general. There is a huge amount to know about from the societal structures prevalent in England and Europe in the 18th century to cabinetmaking techniques to owners of the great furniture and on and on. The amount of knowledge that a good dealer should have is a history course in any university. In fact, it is more like a Master’s degree or a PhD.

Faith helps us to defy gravity. When we have faith in something, we don’t really have to know something. With faith, we occasionally bet against the odds. It disconnects us from the earth and allows us to hope for something that may, in all likelihood, not happen. We need faith because it is part of the human condition to believe in things. But to turn our back on knowledge is to disconnect from reality.

The market for antiques is not unlike this analogy about knowledge and faith. It isn’t taste that turns people away from 18th century furniture. 18th century antiques come with knowledge and may be a tad forbidding to those who may just be decorating their home. Indeed, think how much more dramatic it is to be on the cutting edge of fashion and buy something that might be worth a great deal more some day. This is having faith in a market that does not yet exist. It makes me think of Gen. Shinseki and Donald Rumsfeld’s tussle over how many ground troops would be needed to secure Iraq. Rumsfeld had faith and Shinseki had knowledge. And so it goes.


I haven’t blogged for a bit. Not because I haven’t had ideas, but because I have devoted myself to pulling my stand together for the Winter Antqiues Show which starts next week. It includes the designing of a floor which I have left to my restorers, Curry and Hovis, but what really concerns me is the restoration of all the things I have purchased in the last year. I have had to lean on friendships with a whole host of restorers around the world and, for the most part, they have been extremely cooperative.

The effort that goes into putting a show booth together is extraordinary. Around July, I always feel that I don’t really have anything new to put on my booth. That isn’t always the case, but what you want is something that really strikes you as rare and unusual. Along about the time that the International Show begins in October and when you get to see all the English dealer booths from London and realize that many of them are showing things they showed at the Grosvenor House Fair in June, you start worrying less about having a completely original booth.

Sort of. You are never really satisfied, no matter how good the objects on your stand are. You don’t ever want to compare yourself to others, you want to do the best that you possibly can and only you know how good that is. When it is good, the feeling is superb and when it is okay, you want to slit your wrists. At this point, I haven’t started to look for the razor, but who knows, by next Tuesday, I might become a self appointed Sweeney Todd.


Reading Arthur Schlesinger Jr.’s editorial in the New York Times yesterday on how history should inform our actions is a little like closing the barn door after the horse has bolted. I can sense his frustration, however, and his inherent criticism of the American policy makers of today.

I received a copy of the New England Antiques Journal today and in it were the erudite words of John Fiske, a dealer in country furniture in Vermont. John is a friend who enjoys the simple pleasures of this world and he is also intelligent and writes beautifully about how trends and trendiness have no place in the world of antiques. Buying furniture of any era, he asserts, is a decision that should be made because a person feels comfortable with a style, nothing more and nothing less.

I would like to think that all our decisions are pragmatic and arrived at rationally. Unfortunately, whether we run the US government or we are buying furniture because it is trendy, we inevitably err and do things that may not be so wise. My wish for 2007, I have no resolutions because of antipathy which may suggest a certain resolve of its own, is that whatever level a decision is made on that it be well informed.