Antiques & Collectibles
If you love antiquing, and are planning a visit to Westchester County, be sure to include
antiquing in Westchester
on your itinerary. If you want to go antiquing, you can easily fill your days browsing the antique shops in Westchester, New York. Enjoy the thrill of hunting for that one special antique. Browse the antique stores in
Chappaqua,or one of the other charming towns and villages in Westchester, NY. Combine a visit to Westchester's River Towns along the Hudson River with day trips that include shopping for antiques.
Southern Westchester is filled with Antique stores. Visit
Port Chester, or one of the other charming towns in Southern Westchester. You will find wonderful shops offering a wide range of antiques and collectibles.
Plan a visit to the northern part of Westchester and go antique shopping in
North Salem.In the warmer months, have a delightful lunch or coffee at one of the excellent restaurants offering outdoor dining. After lunch, you can continue shopping or browsing the antique shops and antique malls.
At the end of a full and wonderful day antiquing in Westchester NY, select a restaurant in
The Westchester Restaurant Guide and dine in one of Westchester's many excellent cafe's, bistros, and restaurants.
Antiquing is among the many
things to do
and one of several attractions in the towns and villages along the Hudson River. Visit the charming towns of:
Tarrytown. Combine a day in the River Towns with touring historic sites. Westchester County has the highest concentration of
historic sites in the United States.
Whether you're hunting for collectibles, antiques, reproduction pieces, 18th and 19th century art or pottery; visit the towns of
White Plains. You may want also want to look for special antiques in one of the many Antique Malls located in Stamford Connecticut, bordering Westchester County.
Before buying that next piece of antique furniture, or getting an appraisal on an antique, from one of the many antique dealersin New York, read "What is an Antique". The more you learn and understand about antiques, the more fun you can have talking to antique dealers while searching antique shops.
What is an Antique?
In 1930 the U.S. Government ruled that objects had to be at least one 100 years old to be classified as antiques, so they could be admitted duty free into the U.S. This was a legislative tax decision. Since then, antiques have often been defined as objects made before 1830.
In Europe, items as recent as that seem quite young. In contrast with a classic Roman head, an 18th-century chair is modern. Antique shops in European cities are often called "antiquities" shops. Except for Indian relics and a few Spanish buildings in the Southwest, the oldest American antiques are but 300 years old.
Americans experience the same contrast in their shops. To a New Englander who knows the pine furniture of Pilgrim days, a Victorian sofa doesn't seem antique. But in Nebraska or Oregon it does, because it represents the earliest furnishings in the region. The age of antiques seems to vary in relation to their environment. And so the perception of "What is antique?" changes from region to region and one part of the world to another.
Americans often count among their antiques items made by machine as well as those wrought by hand. Most of these are later than 1830. Circa 1830, may serve as a dividing line between the age of craftsmanship and the machine age.
A cup without a handle but with two saucers, a salt crock to hang on a kitchen wall, a cream pitcher in the form of a cow with luster spots over its white pottery body, an amber bottle shaped like a fish - all these were useful and probably treasured possessions in homes 85 to 150 years ago. Today, eyebrows would be raised if tea were served in a cup without a handle, and the salt crock would be considered unsanitary. Their value lies in their being antiques. As such, they are as genuine as the brass lantern with beveled glass sides that hangs in the hall of the Governor's Palace, restored to its eighteenth-century splendor, in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Antiques command more attention today than they ever have. Nothing that was of personal or household use during the last 300 years is too minor for consideration in this century. Yet hundreds of simple everyday articles that once were indispensable now are left to gather dust or are unrecognized for what they are.
An antique, according to the dictionary, is "a piece of furniture, tableware or the like, made at a much earlier period than the present." It is not, however, necessarily out-of-date or old fashioned. A chair that was built soundly from good hardwood around 1820 and is comfortable to sit on is never out-of-date. How many years old must a chair, a plate, a trivet, a fan, or a clock be to warrant its being called an antique without anyone's arguing the point? Some people insist on a precise number of years, such as 80 or 100. The 80-year span is justified on the basis of two generations, each one covering 40 years. Yet a watch that is only 75 years old is likely to look old-fashioned, and so perhaps it also is an antique. Certainly anything that is 100 years old deserves the label.
An official definition of an antique is stated in the Tariff Act of 1930. According to Paragraph 1811 of that Act, antiques are "works of art (except rugs and carpets made after the year 1700), collections in illustration of the progress of the arts, works in bronze, marble, terra cotta, parian, pottery or porcelain, artistic antiquities and objects of ornamental character or educational value which shall have been produced prior to the year 1830."
This statement is clear in its application to imports and the payment of duty on them. But the year 1830 is more than an arbitrary date in the classification of American antiques. It was about this time that mass production and factory manufacture began to displace the making of individual pieces entirely by hand. Glass began to be pressed into forms by machine instead of being hand-blown. Chairs were the first piece of furniture to which assembly line methods were applied. Although the cabinetmaker, the glassblower, the blacksmith, and other craftsmen were not put out of business immediately, each succeeding decade brought an increase in mass manufacturing.
The fact that a chair or table was made by a cabinetmaker before 1830 does not necessarily make it a more valuable antique than one made thereafter. All the cabinetmakers in any period were not equally skillful; many of them turned out mediocre pieces. But in every craft that contributed to daily living, some workmen produced wares that made their names famous.
The painted side chair with stencil decoration and rush seat was produced in quantity and sold cheaply during the 1820's because Lambert Hitchcock turned his Connecticut workroom into a factory where the parts were cut and turned, assembled, and then decorated, so that many more chairs were completed in a day than if a workman had concentrated on one from start to finish. The Hitchcock chair now is as undeniably an antique as a mahogany fiddle-back Empire chair or a Chippendale ladder-back made many years earlier by cabinetmakers. So also are a steeple clock of the 1860's, a pressed glass lamp that burned whale oil during the 1840's or a brass student lamp that burned kerosene in the 1880's, and the cut glass wedding presents of the 1890's.
The quest for antiques can be as successful in one region of the country as another. In the Southwest, the oldest traditions and antiques are Spanish in origin, although people there share with the rest of the United States a rich Victorian background. Louisiana is one of several notable areas in the United States and Canada where the influence was primarily French. In the Northwest and in the north central states, descendants of Scandinavian settlers are proud of handsome carved bedsteads and equally handsome household linens.
Except for small districts where certain nationalities tended to settle during the nineteenth century, the eastern, southeastern, and midwestern states reflect in their antiques a predominantly English influence. Household and family goods brought to this country, imported during Colonial days, and later produced here in great quantity followed trends and living habits established in England. The Orient also placed its stamp on eastern towns that thrived as seaports in the late 1700's and much of the 1800's, just as it did on England. To such centers as Salem and New Bedford, Massachusetts, Baltimore, Maryland, and Norfolk, Virginia, came Canton tableware, Kashmir shawls, teakwood chests and tables.
Not a day goes by but that someone in the United States glances at some object and fails to recognize it as an antique.Many homely things are packed away in trunks, chests, and cupboards or are gathering dust in attics and cellars. Clearing out a house in which one family has lived for a long time or disposing of the possessions of an elderly relative is almost certain to be rewarded with the discovery of some antiques. Few of the articles may be of museum quality. Some will have greater sentimental or nostalgic than monetary value. However, not even the stacks of magazines, the scrapbooks put together 75 or more years ago, or the clutter of dusty bottles should be tossed aside for the trash collector. At the very least, publications and clippings represent valuable research material for people in many fields of work today. If there's time to go through them, you may find one issue of a magazine, a lithograph in a scrapbook, or a historical flask among the old canning jars and milk bottles that will bring hard cash in the antique market.
It is a fact that any antique you come across that has no appeal for you or suggests no use to you is likely to be a treasure to someone else, who will gladly pay for it. Ten to one, the person who buys is a collector. The really zealous collector is the one who specializes. Preferences range from such popular things as pressed glass, some type of pottery, clocks, lamps, coins, coin banks, bottles, souvenir spoons, and guns to oddments such as butter pats, hatpin-holders, mustache cups, cut glass knife rests, and toothpicks.
Many collectors, including those who buy relatively inexpensive items such as hatpin-holders, gradually assemble a group that becomes valuable in terms of money. In contrast, there are people who literally buy antiques as an investment which they expect to increase in value. Such things as authentic Queen Anne and Philadelphia Chippendale furniture made here during the 1700's, Meissen figurines, and Lowestoft china are currently expensive examples of sound investments. Less costly now, but almost certain to increase in value during the next twenty years, are furniture made between 1785 and 1820, eighteenth and early nineteenth century brass, early nineteenth century china, Tiffany glass, and probably - cut glass.
People with money to invest seldom buy without the advice of a reliable antique dealer. Collectors, both those who rely on an expert and those who do not, are bound eventually to learn a good deal about their field and most of them become shrewd buyers. In self-defense, therefore, a person who owns or finds antiques must learn something about them before offering them for sale. It is not enough to be halfway convinced that the iridescent, marigold-hued glass bowl that you've kept in the cupboard because it came from home, but have never liked or used, is carnival or taffeta glass. When you attempt to make certain that it is, you undoubtedly will hear that there is at present a brisk market for this glass, which is hardly old enough yet to be antique.
Carnival glass does not have the name of the manufacturer or the butcher who gave it away worked in with the design, nor does any pressed glass that was obtained as a premium. Many other things displaying the name of the manufacturer or merchant that were given away between 1850 and 1900 are worth money today. If you find any fans, spoons, calendars, paper dolls (printing on the backs), a bootjack, or tin containers emblazoned with firm or trade names, they need not be discarded as trash.
Anyone who is in a hurry to sell the antiques found in an old house is probably wise to ask a reliable dealer to come in and look them over. He may be willing to handle the sale of some or all of them on the usual commission basis. Or, for a small fee, he may merely advise on the value and salability of the entire lot. Remember, antique dealers have customers, whereas you must find an interested buyer before you can dispose of anything, however rare, odd, or valuable it may seem.
If selling is not urgent, there are several ways a person can learn to recognize and, eventually, evaluate an antique. Visits to antique shops and occasional attendance at an auction in a city gallery or on a rural green are means of learning what is being offered for sale, what people are buying, and what prices are being paid.
Visiting restorations show how people lived - they are full of everyday things. More than one restoration visitor has been reminded of a nineteenth-century duplicate consigned to a cupboard at home as too ordinary to be considered an antique but too good to throw away. Fully as enlightening are the specialized exhibits at the Clock Museum in Bristol, Connecticut, the Farmers' Museum in Cooperstown, New York, the Maritime Museum in San Francisco. California, and Henry Ford Museum and Dearborn Village in Dearborn, Michigan, to mention only a few.
Books are perhaps the easiest way to sharpen recognition and aid in the identification of antiques. There also are books on subjects as specific as milk glass, paperweights, and pewter.
Once an antique has been identified, its characteristics will have to be evaluated. Its approximate age, workmanship, the quality of the materials, present condition, and rarity all have a hearing on both its intrinsic and market values. Repair or restoration may downgrade an antique. A piece of pressed glass that can be authenticated as having been made at the Boston and Sandwich Glass Company's factory in Sandwich, Massachusetts, is to be prized or sold for a good price. However, many excellent as well as beautiful pieces came from factories elsewhere in New England and in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio.
Owners often carelessly fool themselves into believing that an antique is older than it actually is. The Queen Anne style in furniture, for example, was made everywhere in America between 1725 and 1750. Its distinguishing details continued to be followed, particularly in rural areas, for many years after other styles had come into fashion. Thus, a tea table made in New Hampshire in the early 1800's may well have some distinctly Queen Anne characteristics.
There is a tendency also among owners who are not familiar with the antique market to set an inflated valuation on anything they wish to sell. Pride and sentiment have nothing to do with selling prices. The appraised value of an antique, stated after careful examination by a qualified expert, may well be higher than current market value. In antiques as in everything else, the selling price is determined by supply and demand. Pressed glass brings much higher prices now than it did thirty years ago when collecting it first became popular.
Every year adds both prestige and value to nineteenth-century antiques. It will take longer, because more of everything was made during the 1800's, but sooner or later the number of nineteenth-century pieces will be reduced just as eighteenth-century antiques have been-by collectors and investors. Add those who enjoy living with antiques. The increasing number of folk museums and restorations is another drain, for such places may sell reproductions but not authentic pieces. If not this week, then some day, the Double Nine-Patch quilt hand stitched about 1810 and other equally unpretentious furnishings and belongings are certain to rank as important inheritances. A second look at utensils from a nineteenth-century kitchen may prove them to be as worthwhile from an antique standpoint as the parlor furniture.
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