Paradise for antiquers? New England's the place


Planning a vacation and want to go antiquing? What part of the country is brimming with first-rate shops, shows and auctions? How can I find out about dealers and their specialties? Isn't there a book with all the answers? Yes, there is: "Sloan's Green Guide: Antiquing in New England 1992-1993," edited by Susan P. Sloan (Antique Press, $15.95).

The six states of New England -- Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont -- are America's premier hunting ground for antiques, thanks to the area's high concentration of knowledgeable and experienced dealers, ranging from nationally known specialists to small country shops with broadly based stocks. Moreover, there's an abundance of group shops, shows, local auction houses and open air markets, making New England a great vacation spot for dedicated or casual antiquers.

An enthusiastic collector based in Boston, Ms. Sloan drew upon her own travels, gathering in an easy-to-use paperback book all the essentials about a wide variety of dealers. She profiles the ambience of the shops, what they offer, how long they've been in business (noting if they buy estates, have restoration services or conduct appraisals), and, most important, explains how to find them, listing their hours and giving phone and fax numbers. The "Green Guide's" versatility is its strength: For collectors it's a travel guide; for dealers and auctioneers, a phone book; and for decorators and architects, a resource directory.

The "Green Guide" lists more than 2,500 dealers by state and city or town and is indexed by category. If, like many collectors, you love to browse and buy in antiquarian book shops, you'll be in heaven in New England: Ms. Sloan includes 75 in Connecticut, 69 in Maine, 120 in Massachusetts, 49 in New Hampshire, 16 in Rhode Island and 31 in Vermont.

The 94 categories covered range from andirons (17 dealers listed) to wicker (27 dealers). They include furniture, glass, country furnishings, sporting arts/equipment, tribal arts, ceramics, textiles, jewelry, tools, posters, silver, collectibles, ephemera and vintage cars, as well as repair and packing/shipping services. Also featured are skilled craftspeople who make quality reproductions of antique furniture as well as brass hardware to replace pieces missing from your heirlooms.

Consignment shops, group shops and flea markets, good sites for treasure seekers, are indexed separately. Entries are specific enough to be helpful. For example, look up the Wellfleet Flea Market in Massachusetts; it's cross-indexed under its name, flea markets and the special Cape Cod section. The entry reveals it was established in 1874 and is billed as the Cape's biggest flea market, located on U.S. Route 6 at the Eastham-Wellfleet line, 15 miles South of Provincetown, open weekends April through October, and also on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and holidays in July and August. There are rest rooms, food service and a playground. Admission is $1 per car; daily spaces start at $15 for sellers -- there are 300.

A calendar lists major shows, including the promoter's name and phone number for further information. It's not too early to plan a visit to the huge (600 exhibitors) antiques market at the Polo Grounds in Farmington, Conn., scheduled for the weekends of June 13-14 and Sept. 5-6. The legendary extravaganzas in Brimfield, Mass., are listed, too.

There is a small but valuable section on self-directed antiquing tours, complete with maps and paths, although Ms. Sloan advises packing detailed AAA road maps. In Maine, she suggests following U.S. Route 1 north from York to Searsport: The varied shops in York and Wells make a nice one-day car trip from Boston. But she warns about traffic jams on summer weekends, so consider an overnight stay in one of New England's famous country inns or bed-and-breakfasts.

"Sloan's Green Guide" is updated each November. Consult a current edition, since locations, proprietors and specialties change surprisingly quickly. "In Boston on Charles Street, an antiques mecca since the 1920s, five of the 28 shops changed owners since Nov. 1991," Ms. Sloan notes.

"Sloan's Green Guide: Antiquing in New England 1992-1993" can be ordered for $18.95 postpaid from the Antique Press, 9 Brimmer St., Boston, Mass. 02108-1001, or call (800) 552-5632.


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