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Fig. 1 Albert Sack (left), Nancy Johnston, and Robert Sack savor the moment after the $1.5 million sale of a Chippendale Eagle Armchair, Salem, Massachusetts, loaned by merchant Elias Hasket Derby for George Washington’s Inaugural Ball in 1789. Courtesy of Bob Jackman.
The often heard real estate mantra “location, location, location” is fast applying to dealers these days. For now, the prized Manhattan retail shop could be a period townhouse.

“Big, cavernous spaces aren’t the best way to show prime eighteenth-century English furnishings,” says Mark Jacoby, who moved his firm, Philip Colleck Ltd., up from 12th Street to a pre-Civil War landmark townhouse at 311 East 58th Street only three months ago. “Clients appreciate seeing antiques in room settings similar to their own home,” adds his wife, Diana. She cites a Sheraton sideboard that was underappreciated in their former downtown showroom but sold uptown in fourteen days. The Jacobys now count dozens of new clients simply due to their new display space. Part of the appeal is their proximity to the Decoration and Design Building: It’s like one-stop shopping.

The Jacobys won’t be alone for long in showing antiques in a period location, for Americana dealer Leigh Keno is gearing up to move out of the old Parke-Bernet building on Madison Avenue to a nineteenth-century townhouse at 127 East 69th Street this November.

What’s the latest marketing approach at Israel Sack, Inc.? “Selling on consignment,” replies veteran Americana dealer Albert Sack of the 98-year-old firm founded by his father, Israel. Their highly successful new brokering program, introduced this January, works as follows: A specific fee is charged to the owner only when an antique sells, while the firm absorbs all transport, photography, and insurance costs.

To date, sales of consignment items include $1.5 million for a Chippendale mahogany armchair with an impeccable provenance (Fig. 1). It sold for the asking price in just one hour at at the dealer’s annual “Americana week” party in January. Also sold that evening was a Chippendale Philadelphia armchair with a six-figure price tag. In February, the firm sold a set of three Queen Anne side chairs, also for well into six figures. “Collectors like the fact that they have an opportunity to buy objects that have been off the market for decades. They also appreciate having another option when selling their fine antiques,” says the Fifth Avenue gallery’s Nancy Johnston.

New Trends?
Fig. 2 Colonial Indian Ivory Serpentine Dressing Box, Vizagapatam, ca. 1770–1790. Courtesy of Marc J. Matz.
The next niche market in antiques could be campaign furniture, as suggested by a new book by Nicholas A. Brawer, British Campaign Furniture: Elegance under Canvas, 1740–1914, which is coupled with an exhibition devoted to the specialty opening at the Katonah Art Museum in New York this July.

Another potential collecting “hot spot” is featured in the publication Furniture from British India and Ceylon: A Catalogue of the Collections in the V&A and the Peabody Essex Museum. Detailing the holdings of the two most important collections of Anglo-Indian decorative arts, an accompanying exhibition that explores 250 years of export furniture runs through April 29, 2001, at the Peabody Essex Museum. “Both the book and the Peabody Museum exhibit will certainly pique further interest on the part of collectors and scholars,” says Marc J. Matz, a Cambridge, Massachusetts, dealer who specializes in Colonial Indian and China trade antiques (Fig. 2). His brisk sales at New York’s East Side Winter Antiques Show this past January underscore the rising interest in these collecting areas.

Tiny Faces…
Mark your calendar for miniatures! Elle Shushan, who heads up Augustus Decorative Arts, is curating the loan exhibition Tiny Faces: Miniature Portraits of Children, 1750–1850, on view from April 4–10 at M. Finkel & Daughter, 936 Pine Street, Philadelphia. Featuring eighteenth- and nineteenth-century miniatures on loan from a prestigious Philadelphia private collection, the exhibit will offer forty similar American, English, and European examples priced from $500 to $15,000. If Shushan’s sales at the Winter Antiques Show are any indication—she virtually sold out her stand—the miniatures are bound to move quickly. So, watch out for miniatures—they just might be the millennium’s most coveted small.

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