Bringing pieces of history home

The Baltimore Sun

With their hands filled with carefully wrapped items and a bag of knickknacks, weekend treasure hunters Patti and Kassen Delano marveled at their latest acquisitions.

The mother-and-daughter team and self-proclaimed "professional shoppers" from Arlington, Va., came to the Baltimore Summer Antiques Show yesterday to purchase a few books. But about $4,000 later, the two lugged a hand-stitched 1890 American flag and a wooden store sign out of the Baltimore Convention Center.

"They were very fair," Patti Delano said about the vendors. She said she was able to shave $650 off the $3,650 asking price for the flag and $75 off the $475 price for the sign. "When I go home and tell my husband, he may have another idea."

The Delanos were joined by thousands of people - and 550 vendors - yesterday at the 26th annual show, which offers a cross-section of items, including a $980,000 Claude Monet painting and nostalgic postcards selling for a quarter each.

Organizers said they expected close to 20,000 visitors for the four-day event that wraps up from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. today.

John Patton and his friend Michael Farrow have attended the show for the past 15 years.

"This is a high-end show," Patton, of Arlington, said. "You can purchase unusual things that you can normally only see in museums."

Farrow, who bought some silver flatware, said he was impressed by the large selection of signature silver pieces at the show.

"They are remarkable pieces of art," said Farrow of Vienna, Va. "I admire the work of the bygone era."

Robert and Leah Belle Gardner, a Lynchburg, Va., couple who specialize in antique postcards, jewelry and World War I and World War II memorabilia, brought 100,000 items - including 50,000 postcards - to sell at the show.

'A lot of fun'

"I'm fascinated by the history," said Robert Gardner, who was selling an 1887 Baltimore Sun Almanac for $50. "Sharing that with your customers is fun. When the right customer comes along and says, 'Oh, I found it!' ... no matter if it is expensive or inexpensive, it is a lot of fun."

Linda Kone of Washington decided to make a day trip and come to Baltimore for the show and for a crab dinner.

"I'm looking for silver and various brooches like the ones [former Secretary of State] Madeleine Albright wears," Kone said.

A few minutes later, Kone was a little closer to purchasing some silver.

"I saw cute spoons for tea," she said. "They were $39 each."

Melissa Chick of Edgewater came to the show with her husband, Erik, and their two children, Natalie, 3, and Erik, 1.

"Our family likes antiques," Melissa Chick said. "I like admiring furniture that is usually out of our price range."

Her husband agreed. "We like looking at things that we can't afford."

After being at the show for a few minutes yesterday, the family had already made a purchase - a children's book for Natalie.

"It was three dollars," Melissa Chick said as she stood next to a double stroller that contained her antsy children. "Natalie's reading it right now."

Upon hearing her name mentioned, Natalie tossed the book back at her parents, and her younger brother dropped a toy on the ground.

"We'll stay as long as we can keep their attention," Melissa Chick said, adding that the family had one more stop to make before leaving.

Vintage diamonds

"I saw a diamond band for about $1,000," she whispered. "I'm going back there right now."

Did she plan to negotiate on the price?

"Yes," she said with a giggle. "Definitely."

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