Manhattan is known for revving itself up in a big way for self-promotion to attract tourists and business. Whether it's the Big Apple Circus performing at Lincoln Center's Damrosch Park, or it's the annual Macy's Flower Show transforming Herald Square and producing millions of blossoms for view, New York City, through its network of organized partnerships and spontaneous collaborations leverages large-scale themed weeks that seems to overrun and take this city by storm. New York Antiques Week is one of those large-scale week-long events.
Annually in January, the twin pillars of the high-end auction houses, Sotheby's and Christie's start off the week-long festivities with auctions of fine American furniture, art and decoratives. There are opening night galas, and long-standing traditional antique shows: The Armory Antiques Show on 26th Street and The Americana and Antiques Show at Pier 92, both run by Stella Show management, are legendary in the large crowds and the unique dealer displays. The Winter Antiques Show, in its 57th year and is the earliest of the week and the most high-end of all of the week's events takes place at the Park Avenue Armory at 67th Street. Decorators and collectors from all over the country come to shop for the best that the field has to offer. True to building on a theme, other shows and auctions are part of the week. The New York Ceramics Fair, for the first time held Grand Ballroom of the Bohemian National Hall, the home of the Czech Consulate on East 73rd Street and Second Avenue, draws a crowd of about 6,000 and the annual benefit gala for the American Folk Arts Museum kicks off The American Antiques Show at The Metropolitan Pavilion on West 18th Street at Sixth Avenue. This show represents 300 years of American design in jewelry, ceramics, American Indian art and other crafts. There are tours, a trip to peek at a private collection and a day of appraisals.
But where do you start if you want to attend the events? Stella Show Management produces a great map of all of the shows, exhibits and auctions happening for the week and sponsors a free shuttle bus to take buyers and visitors from one show to the other. This is awfully helpful when you have treasures to carry and are unfamiliar with the subway or bus routes.
Each of the shows has its own flavor. The Americana and Antiques Show at Pier 92 holds 200 dealers and has a special section for books and ephemera. One long-time dealer, G. Ross Irving, specializes in autographed photos of opera, ballet and theatrical personalities and has been exhibiting at Antiques Week for nearly 30 years. There are two food courts for weary shoppers, one with smiling white-coated servers ready with Bloody Marys and Mimosas if you are so inclined.
The many shows overlap in days of operation and times, which allow you take in more than one in a day. Famous dealers like the Keno brothers are in attendance at The Winter Antiques Show and celebrities abound. Nineteenth century English sterling to mounted iron gears from an abandoned factory in Michigan are sold as decoratives.
Hotels run specials during the week to attract out-of-towners. We found a little-known company called Broadway Rooms that rents private apartments next door to the inspiration for Jerry Seinfeld's "Soup Nazi". Yum! It is a short walk or cab ride to Pier 92 to catch the shuttle to anyone of the art and antique events that captivate New York City for a week. Plan early for a few January days of antique treasure-hunting in New York!