Posted 1/15/06 covers 


THE 2005





Oct. 27th - 30th - Fort Mason



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46"x79"x36" matching concrete lions, Mallett, 

London, NYC







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c1850 carved eagle wall Plaque, New England, 58" wide x 38"tall, $26,000.00, Tag Allen Katz, Woodbridge, Ct.







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World's best dressed book dealers, left -  David Fandetta, right - John  Peter Hayden,  of Hayden & Fandetta Rare Books. NYC







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Display case of Vienna bronzes in Robertson's booth, New Hope, PA







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Mark Guthrie demonstrating his trade, booth of Aedicule Fine Frame Making, San Francisco, 







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Booth of Charles Jay Conover, Los Gatos, Ca







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c1878, George Henry Burgess,
View of San Francisco in 1850, oil on canvas 41 x 72 inches, $500,000.00 Montgomery Gallery, San Francisco







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c1890 carved wood bellboy whirligig, European, $4,500.00,  Robert Young Antiques, London







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Booth of Berry-Hill Galleries, New York City







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deli counter







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c1899 View of Haarlem, 
Oil on canvas
by J.H. van Mastenbroek 
34" x 51 1/2" , $85,000.00, Tag

Montgomery Gallery, San Francisco







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Booth of Montgomery Gallery, San Francisco







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c1880 American Indian weathervane, 36"tall x 25" wide, $21,500.00, Tag Allen Katz American, Woodbridge, Ct









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THE 2005




Carlton Hendricks


.....You appreciate things like that when you see them in a book, but just blow them off as unobtainable. They're so great, you just naturally assume they're permanently institionalized, permanently entrenched in the Metropolitan, or some other fortress of culture, and you have no chance of ever owning it. So when I walked up and saw them standing there it was kind of surreal..... 


I've attended the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show about the last ten years. The show comes once a year in October, and is held at Fort Mason, in the Marina district, right at the foot of San Francisco Bay. 

It's the nicest antiques show I've ever been to, and has quite a formal atmosphere. The dealers wear business dress, the men in coat and tie mostly. The booths are very nicely decorated, with much attention to detail. Some nearly look like stage sets. There is a restaurant with full bar, right in the middle of the show, surrounded by dealer booths. They even bring in live foliage. And if that wasn't enough, they have a terrific deli! All they need is a Gap and they'd have all the bases covered. Take it from someone who's attended innumerable shows of every kind the last 18 years; it's by far the nicest antiques show in northern California, and probably all of California, maybe the entire country. 


There were about seventy five dealers exhibiting at the 2005 show. The admission has always been $15.00. That's about double most shows, but well  worth it, if for no other reason than just to see what a first class show is like. The big glossy 10lb program they give you probably cost that to print. By the way, take my advise, pick it up on the way out. Plus the show raises money for San Francisco High school students. Not to mention it's a good excuse for socialites to party. There's a $150.00 a head cocktail reception and preview opening night. I've never been, but it's probably well stocked with San Francisco's social elite.


So do I find any sports antiques there? Over the years I haven't found a lot, but what I have has been strong. One was a 9.0 on the Richter scale, as we'll see in a bit. The quality of the show is particularly high, and the potential is always there for a major find. That's what keeps me coming back every year. But even when I don't find anything, it's really a treat to see all the high powered non sport antiques. Especially now that the quality, of, practically all, the shows have been drained by depletion and the internet. 

One year I found an incredible c1890 framed pillow cover with a Victorian girl holding a tennis racket. It was way at the back, in Jay Conover’s booth. Jay's specialty is furniture, but he likes to use antique sports things to enhance them, basically as props. Jay's booth always has the clubby Ralph Lauren look. The cool thing is he'll sell the props. An extra bonus of this find was meeting Jay, he's as pleasant as his booth is nice. Jay's wife by the way, is none other than San Francisco poster dealer Sarah Stocking. Sarah is one of the top vintage poster dealers in the country. But back to the pillow, you see these kinds of cloth pillow covers in the antiques world occasionally. They have printed Victorian style illustrations. Most are feminine with scenes that would have appealed to woman of the era. Sometimes they've been made into pillows, other times you’ll see them framed. There are some sports ones, but they’re pretty rare. The tennis one I found that time was superb. It was the nicest tennis one I've ever seen, and the condition was excellent. But the price was more than I wanted to pay. This was about ten years ago, and I think it was $1,800.00. So all I could do was take a photo, and I left without it. I mailed the photo to a buddy who collects, and has a hot button for sports pillow covers. He agreed it was outstanding, but didn't want to go the $1,800.00 either. And that was it, I thought it was over. Then a month or so later my buddy's wife called and wanted the dealers contact so she could get it for her husband for Christmas. Jay still had it and she was able to buy it. 

From then on, every year I made sure to check out Jay's booth carefully. One year I looked all thru it but didn't see a thing. Then I walked around the outer left wall which faced a dead end hallway. There hidden out of view was one of the greatest rowing posters I’ve ever seen. I remember I was so struck, it took a few minutes to get my bearings. Once again it was a pretty high priced for me, $2,800.00 if I recall right. And once again, all I could do was take a photo. I showed my same buddy the photo, and...once again, he agreed, it was killer, but a little too expensive. A month or so later I sold some incredible America’s Cup photos and got the money, and Jay still had it. I remember I drove all the way from Napa Valley to Campbell near San Jose on new years eve day to get it. 

Another year I found a cast iron umbrella stand with a bicycle rider motif. I took a photo and with the dealers permission sent it to Prince Charles. His secretary sent me a nice, no thanks letter. I was at an antiques show once and overheard a conversation about how the person would offer Prince Charles bicycle antiques when ever he found them, and that His Highness collected bicycle things. I’ve sent a few offers, but never sold him anything. His secretary sends the world's nicest thank you letters though. I heard a story that there is a large antiques show in London, that lets Prince Charles in before the show opens. 

Enough Charles chatter, back to the S. F. Fall show. Another unique thing they have every year is a museum like exhibit of exceptional examples of antiques of that year's selected genera. I recall one year was silver, another was clocks, etc.. The items are all from collections of local S.F. patrons. Most of the stuff is so heady, I think everyone just likes reading the little cards to see who the lenders are. Some of the names are very recognizable.


One of the most impressive booths I've ever seen at any show ever was that of antique weapons dealer Peter Finer of London. It was off the scale! Unfortunately I've not seen him at the show for quite a few years now. He would have the most incredible array of antique weapons, in the most incredible condition.  I mean really exotic stuff, like out of castles from the middle ages. Blunderbusses, crossbows, artillery, daggers, stuff Catherine the Great's armies would have used. Probably it was all European. I think the Sultan of Brunei collects guns. I'll bet Finer has a pipeline because I can't imagine a more prolific dealer anywhere in the world. 

The San Francisco International Poster fair usually takes place the same weekend as the antique show, and it's also held right there at Fort Mason, within walking distance. The shows compliment each other well, and I recommend attending both. You can read about the poster fair in the story I wrote on it.

This years S.F. Fall Antiques Show looked great as always when I arrived. Little did I know the monumental surprise that lay ahead. I couldn't make it to the show till the last day, so who knows what I missed. It's always best to get to shows as early as possible. But it's not unusual to make a find on the last, plus the prices have usually softened by then. I took my usual route to the right and started along the east wall, passing the usual booths of Asian, French, and this and that Empire. Always on the lookout for a silver golf match safe or something in my realm. 

About a quarter way up on the right is the booth of Historical Design, of New York City, owned by Denis Gallion and Daniel Morris. They always have exceptional deco and art nouveau things. They don't usually have a big booth, but typically what they have is strong. Right away a bronze lamp caught my eye, by Gustav Gurschner (1873-1970). It was made from a c1900 sculpture of an art nouveau maiden holding a egg shaped glass diffuser, quite large, 26 inches tall and very striking, price $60,000.00 . They also had a unique oil painting of a man, titled "Vincenzo di Parma", by Charles Baskerville - American 1896-1994. 32 1/2" tall x 24" wide. I suppose it would be considered art deco, quality written all over it, $19,500.00. These guys really get great stuff. I remember a couple years ago they had an incredible bronze change tray entitled “The Intruder” by 
Bessie Potter Vonnoh. Point being, it's not unusual to see museum pieces in their booth. 


Another neat booth was that of Mallett of New York and London. This is one of the ones I was saying looks like a stage set. They had two huge concrete lions, garden art, that flanked their booth, 46" tall by 79" wide by 36" deep! Some of the other highlights of the show included a nice selection of Vienna bronzes offered by Robertson's of New Hope, PA., P1, P2, P3, P4, P5, P6. Vienna bronzes are a neat, fun thing to collect and they don't take much room  to display. They're usually quite detailed and have lot's of character. Typically they're whimsical and entertaining, and come in many subjects. Naturally the few sports ones there are, are very rare, and generally quite expensive. I just recently bought my first Vienna, of three soccer players. You can read a little more about Vienna's in a short story I wrote on a tennis one.

The Montgomery Gallery of San Francisco had their usual selection of incredible museum worthy paintings. The Montgomery Gallery is sort of the Kennedy Galleries of San Francisco I think. My favorite from their booth this year was titled “The Town Crier” oil on canvass, by Joseph Raphael, American, 1869-1950 . The subject is a Dutch family who the artist probably painted from real life, their features are so distinct. Although Raphael is noted as an American, the painting looks very European. Sure enough the family is wearing Dutch style wooden shoes. There are five people in the picture. The father looks like, Garry Schandling, David Brenner, and he, could all be brothers.  It’s an interesting work. Some of the faces have considerable character. The boy to the right of the father's elbow looks quite mischievous. The girl holding the doll looks completely sincere. While the lady above the fathers elbow looks guilt trip ready, so perhaps the mother. What also makes it great are its size, 78” tall by 66” wide, and color. It just barely fit the height of the wall in the Montgomery booth. I don’t recently recall another painting with color variation so well chosen. The blue of the father’s sleeves, the red of the little girl’s dress, with a white trim on her arm for definition. Then the charming dress the young lady wears at viewers left, with the blue-ish green and gold design. Then the subtle browns, from light to dark throughout. Brown’s not a color you usually get excited about, but it sure looks good the way Raphael put it all together. Paintings will get to you if you're around them enough. Great posters start looking kind of weak after seeing great paintings. I wouldn't mind getting into them. Just what I need...more stuff!


As mentioned I usually start on the right as you enter the show, and work my way around the perimeter, then start on the inner rows. When I came back up the left row toward the front, I saw the booth of Alan Katz of Connecticut up ahead. 


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Allen and wife Penny 

of Allen Katz Americana


Alan specializes in American folk art, but not just your average American folk art. Alan often deals in power pieces, ultra classic items you'd typically see in a book or museum. I'd say him and competitor Fred Giampietro are the two top American folk art dealers in the country. This was only the third year I've seen Katz set up at the show. Last year he had an incredible mid 19th century carved wood shield from a U.S. Customs house, painted red white and blue with stars and stripes. It was the crème de la crème of its kind. That's the typical quality he brings. I had completely forgot about him being there, so when I saw his booth up ahead I quickly anticipated what he would have. 


Like I say he brings great exciting things, but what I saw took me completely by surprise, I was almost dumfounded. There in front of me were some of  the most incredible baseball folk art extant; two life size mechanical baseball player figures of a batter and catcher.


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c1929 amusement park mechanical baseball players, life size, $375,000.00


They appeared to be made of galvanized sheet metal and were quite distressed and bare looking, without uniforms. Allen explained they had been used in an 

amusement park, and that people would pitch to the batter. Apparently the batter would swing the now missing bat. Allen pointed out a line of little holes across their mouths, and said steam would come out of them, I guess as part of the action somehow.   


I was already familiar with them, as I had previously seen them in books on folk art. You appreciate things like that when you see them in a book, but just blow them off as unobtainable. They're so great, you just naturally assume they're permanently institionalized, permanently entrenched in the Metropolitan, or some other fortress of culture, and you have no chance of ever owning it. So when I walked up and saw them standing there it was kind of surreal. I looked around, and people were going about their business as usual in other booths, there were no crowds, I was the only one looking at them. 


Allen started to explain them, and I conveyed as much that I understood them perfectly, and knew exactly what they were, and had seen them in the books. I asked the price and he told me $375,000.00. We went on to discuss them at length. They were too rich for me, so all I could do was take it all in and wonder why more people weren't looking at them. I concluded they were some of the greatest sports folk art pieces in the world. I knew a fellow collector that I thought might want them, and sure enough he bought them immediately. Allen later gave me permission to use the photo.


Wrapping up my coverage of the show, I hope you enjoyed it. The internet is a great way to find antiques but there's nothing like human contact. A smile, a hand shake, looking someone in the eye; you can't do those online. Nor can you replace just getting out and enjoying the day. And of course you can't replace the tradition of going out to eat after a show, it's part of antiquing! Afterwards I headed off to one of my favorites, Escape from New York Pizza, across town on Haight St., where the hippie thing started. Gritty neighborhood, but it's worth the excellent potato pesto pizza. And you can get it by the slice! 





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LionRight.jpg (651986 bytes)

46"x79"x36" matching concrete lions, Mallett, 

London, NYC


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78" tall x 66" wide, "The Town Crier and His Family" c1905, by Joseph Raphael, $275,000.00, Tag Montgomery Gallery, San Francisco


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Booth of Hedge Galley, San Francisco


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c1890, 23"x15", The Saddling of Paddock at Saratoga, oil on Canvass, $4,500.00, Tag offered by Robertson's, New Hope, PA.


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Restaurant in center of show


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Bonnie Grossman assisting customers, The Ames Gallery, Berkeley, Ca.


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c1850 Turkish and Chinese carved faces, painted pine,  Aprox. 19 1/2" x 16" each, $85,000.00, Tag 

Robert Young Antiques, London


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c1890 carved wood Soldier whirligig, European, $6,800.00, Tag Robert Young Antiques, London


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Booth of print dealer Tam O'Neill Fine Arts, Denver


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Booth of David's Antiques, Fallbrook, Ca.


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c1880 Bandleader doll, $3,900.00 , booth of Ames Gallery, Berkeley, Ca.


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Booth of Charles Jay Conover, Los Gatos, Ca.


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Brush makers trade sign, 32", $1,200.00, Tag Robert Young Antiques, London