15 Boston-Area Stores Where You Can Score Collectibles and Antiques
Online shopping may have been a lifesaver this past year, but nothing beats the feeling of searching for—and finding—a hidden jewel or treasure. The coveting. The chase. The discovery. The adrenaline rush. And then—ka-ching! From art to antiques, wooden boats to (seriously) eyeball sculptures, the region’s top dealers share what’s hot and what’s not. Plus: secrets and tips from the city’s most passionate collectors.
Purchasing a piece of art, says Lanoue, is extremely personal: Not only should it bring you joy every time you look at it, but it should also make you say wow. By and large, that’s the reaction buyers have when browsing her gallery, which focuses on artists who create wholly original and unexpected pieces. Right now, they’re coveting Peter Combe, who designs intricate portraits of well-known people using paint-chip swatches (you have to see it to believe it); Paul Russo, a neo-pop artist who supersizes everyday objects such as candy wrappers and transforms them into undulating 3-D wall sculptures; and Jeremy Holmes, whose physics-defying wood sculptures have been among Lanoue’s most popular commissions.
450 Harrison Ave., Boston, 617-262-4400, lanouegallery.com.
English and European Furniture
David Neligan Antiques
When this former Skinner Auction House director decided to open his own store some 30 years ago, he scoured Europe for the finest furniture—and with more than 1,000 items currently in stock, it’s safe to say he hasn’t stopped since. You can see the craftsmanship in pieces like an 18th-century secretary desk owned by the Duke of Rutland in England and a pair of Regency rosewood bookcases. Lately, “there seems to be a revival in interest in Georgian furniture and mahogany furniture of a high quality,” says Neligan, who serves as a big resource for interior designers as well as collectors around the world. Just be prepared to part with some cash: “I don’t deal with reproductions. Only originals.” And with that, he’s off to ship an order to Australia.
38 Main St., Essex, 978-768-3910, davidneliganantiques.com.
Appleton Antique Lighting
Who knew that the Victorian era is hot, hot, hot right now? Jane Deimezis, that’s who. “People are getting tired of the simple, gray, modern aesthetic,” she says. As the owner of Appleton Antique Lighting, Deimezis is seeing a particular interest in the Queen Anne and Eastlake lighting styles. Primarily open by appointment, her Canton warehouse is stocked with a colossal collection of fixtures from the 1700s to the 21st century—though her favorite piece, a four-light chandelier with beautifully cast horses, can be found hanging in her home. “If someone wants to pay the price, it’s for sale,” she says with a laugh, adding that bid would need to begin at $22,500.
28 Draper Ln., Canton, 617-566-5322, appletonlighting.com.
High-end antique Persian rugs, says Shiranian, are like paintings by a master artist—see: the 141-year-old floral Yazd carpet he currently has on display in his Allston showroom. “We have a small inventory, but it is highly curated and collectible,” notes the fourth-generation rug dealer, the first in his family to operate the business in the United States after moving from Iran to attend college in Boston. Shiranian, who travels to countries such as South Africa, England, and Turkey to score the most covetable pieces, says serious collectors have recently been drawn to more-decorative Turkish rug styles, as well as Persian varieties like Sultanabad, Tehran, and Mashhad Amoghli.
119 Braintree St., Boston, 617-236-8283; medalliongallery.com.
Ask any movie-set designer or historical-home fanatic where they unearth their period pieces, and the answer will most likely be an architectural salvage warehouse such as Restoration Resources, which works directly with clients of all stripes to help them score gilded mirrors, stained-glass windows, antique door hardware, and other one-of-a-kind treasures that would be impossible to find anywhere else. “We provided a lot of things for Little Women,” Raymer confides. Of course, if you want access to this rarefied world, there’s a process to follow. Email first with what you are looking for. Then you’ll receive photographs of what’s in stock. If you like something, a private appointment will be scheduled in the warehouse. Good luck!
Andrew Spindler Antiques
Though he started out by earning degrees in Spanish literature at Brown and Yale, Spindler ultimately decided he could not stay away from lovely things. “I wanted to be more object-oriented and less of a theory head,” he explains. So after training at Sotheby’s London for yet another degree, Spindler soon opened up his own boutique in Essex, where the vibe is “serious but with a sense of wit.” That means you might find a giant scientific eyeball, for instance, next to a Chippendale chest and fire tools by Donald Deskey, who designed the interiors of Radio City Music Hall. Plus, as Spindler attests, if you work up an appetite while shopping, you can always “grab a lobster roll down the street.”
163 Main St., Essex, 978-768-6045, spindlerantiques.com.
African Jewelry & Home Décor
Erica Akosua Ayisi
When Ayisi showcases new merchandise, chances are she unearthed it on a recent trip to South Africa, Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania, or Kenya. It all depends on what she is covering as a Ghanaian-American international journalist who has reported for NBC News, Essence Magazine, and the Root, among other outlets. The ambitious reporter started her business, which specializes in African merchandise made mostly by women in marginalized communities, after her friends started asking where she got her clothing and accessories. Meticulous in her research and sourcing, Ayisi now sells handmade blue, orange, turquoise, and purple pillows from Tanzania; waist beads, which she describes as the African version of lingerie; and statement necklaces from West Africa that are “loud and proud, and for a confident woman.” Be sure to check out her website for details on her pop-up this month.
Kohar and Michael Allen
The Frame Gallery
The team here creates frames from scratch the old-fashioned way: by carving the wood, often with extremely intricate designs, then adding many layers of materials like clay and gold leaf. With more than 1,100 samples to choose from, they can custom-create everything from 14th-century Italian frames to art deco styles—or restore existing antique pieces. “We are highly specialized,” says Kohar, who opened the Frame Gallery three decades ago with her husband, Michael. “Many collectors come here after buying a painting. They are very fussy, and want the perfect frame.” And they can be confident that the couple, who got into the business because of their love of great art, will help them find one: “We appreciate the old craftsmanship of the European artists,” Kohar says.
357 Boylston St., Brookline, 617-232-2070, theframegalleryboston.com.
At a time when many of us have been overwhelmed by reality, Arden Gallery owner Zola Solamente says her collection of photorealism—a method in which artists work directly through photography to replicate an object or scene—has been flying off the walls. Take one look at the luminous florals by Alexandra Averbach, cool retro signs by Stephanie Schechter, and bright color portraits by Paul Beliveau, and you’ll immediately understand why. “Our gallery is overflowing with bright, positive energy,” Solamente explains.
129 Newbury St., Boston, 617-247-0610, ardengallery.com.
40 South Street
Let’s just say Mancini earned her vintage chops in an unusual way: She’s a former rock ’n’ roller who began curating a women’s section in her neighbor’s vintage shop after getting dropped by her label. Flash-forward 15 years, and Mancini’s own store overflows with everything from ’70s psychedelic bell-bottoms and Jackie O cocktail dresses to jumpsuits and a shirt signed by Nancy Sinatra. And she never can predict who will buy what: “Guys come in for corduroys and then a teenager wants a beaded cardigan from the ’60s.” Perhaps her most important vintage moment, though, was learning the ropes from the late Bobby Garnett at his legendary Bobby from Boston store. “He taught me how to do a house call,” she says. “He was the master.” Mancini, it could be argued, is as well.
40 South St., Jamaica Plain, 617-522-5066, fortysouthst.com.
High-End Vintage Jewelry
Tiina Smith Jewelry
If you’re going to fork over a portion of your hard-earned savings for a dream piece of jewelry, Smith is the person to trust. Why? Because she’s an insatiable collector herself—so much so, in fact, that she traded her former career in portfolio management to chase her passion: baubles. Not just any baubles, mind you, but one-of-a-kind pieces such as enormous Graff ruby-and-diamond pendant earrings and a Cartier London sapphire-and-diamond suite. The big items flying out of the boutique these days include bold, colorful pieces and suites from the 1960s as well as “important diamond necklaces signed by the greatest jewelers of all time,” Smith says.
121 Newbury St., Boston, 617-712-0100, tiinasmithjewelry.com.
Japanese Home Goods
Rook and Mieko Murao
Crane & Turtle
The Japanese phrase dentō kōgei loosely translates to “traditional arts and crafts” in English—and from origami crane sculptures to glossy red Bento boxes, that’s exactly what husband-and-wife team Rook and Mieko Murao are constantly hunting for to fill the shelves of their Bow Market boutique, which focuses exclusively on artisanal goods made in Mieko’s native Japan. “Customers are very interested in sustainable products that will grow old with them,” says Rook, who notes that the most popular items in the shop right now are Wakasa lacquer chopsticks, Furoshiki wrapping cloth, and a stunning Nebuta sake set.
One Bow Market Way, Somerville, craneandturtle.shop.
What do James Bond and Cameron Diaz’s character in There’s Something About Mary have in common? Both have crossed paths with the rare contemporary pieces at Machine Age, many of which are no longer in production. “Oh yes, we rent out props all the time to movies,” confirms owner Normand Mainville, who recently brought furniture to the sets of Don’t Look Up and The Tender Bar when they shot in Boston. However, the real mainstay of his business is a local clientele that has bought from and sold to him for the past 30 years. What’s zipping out of the door these days are lounge chairs and sofas as well as Scandinavian sideboards from the 1950s and ’60s. But “there’s always something new” in the shop, says Mainville, who started his career in fashion before switching to furniture. “I am always learning.”
121 Boston St., Boston, 617-464-0099, machine-age.com.
Ross has a lot of fun talking about the celebrities who have descended upon his western Massachusetts warehouse full of old-school wooden boats. To wit: Bruce Springsteen once purchased a Ross Bros. skiff to putter around in the pond on his estate. It’s easy to understand their infatuation with the shop’s canoes, outboard runabouts, small sailboats, and dinghies—the oldest of which is from 1870—given that they’ve graced the floors of Ralph Lauren’s flagship boutique, hung from ceilings in hunting camps, and will soon appear in the TV series Dexter. As for Ross, he got into the biz for two simple reasons: “We were always living near the water and enjoyed boating.”
146 Main St., Haydenville, 413-586-3875, rossbros.com.
The Urban Grape
Collecting fine wines isn’t for the faint of heart. You need a proper cellar, proper glasses, and, of course, the right expert to help you manage it all. Leveraging two-plus decades of relationships in the industry, Douglas is able to collect the most sought-after bottles for his private clients, who count on the Urban Grape to curate and manage their impressive portfolios. “I am their personal sommelier. They can just hop on their phone and say, ‘I feel like having this tonight,’” says Douglas, who offers same-day transport in temperature-controlled vehicles. Right now, the bottles that are getting vino aficionados hot under the collar include Domaine Armand Rousseau Burgundys and Château Latour Bordeaux from 2009, a 100-point wine that is crafted to savor (or cellar) for the next 50 years.
303 Columbus Ave., Boston, 857-250-2509, theurbangrape.shop.
Lead owner of the Boston Celtics
WHAT HE COLLECTS: Guitars and drums.
WHY GUITARS AND DRUMS? “I’ve been a drummer since I was seven years old. Music is my favorite artistic expression,” says Grousbeck, who plays drums for his classic-rock cover band, French Lick. Grousbeck is the proud owner of a set of mid-’90s DW drums with a custom black-and-white zebra pattern made for Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer, who gave them to him in a top-secret rehearsal studio after a lesson. His favorite guitar, meanwhile, is a Cherry Burst 2002 Gibson Les Paul signed by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin.
HIS SOURCES: “I’ve bought most of my collection at charity auctions,” says Grousbeck, who notes that the Jimmy Fund, the Robin Hood Foundation, and the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation are among his favorite organizations to support. “I’ll also always go into an independently owned music store to support them.”
Professor of public policy at Northeastern University
WHAT HE COLLECTS: Banjos.
WHY BANJOS? “I did my doctoral research on African-American material culture,” he says. That led to him to learning about the role banjos have played in America as both a “Black” and “white” instrument used for jazz, bluegrass, and folk music. Plus, he notes, “they give me great pleasure, though I’m not much of a player.”
HIS SOURCES: Landsmark frequents yard sales, collector events, and works with dealers around the country—the end product being far more valuable than just a banjo: “The instrument opens up fascinating conversations about American culture, race, and music appropriation.”
Chef-owner of Porto, Trade, and Saloniki restaurants
WHAT SHE COLLECTS: Bowls.
WHY BOWLS? “They’re useful and beautiful,” she says. “I love the shape. I love to eat out of them. Pasta in a bowl is so much better.” Her most coveted pieces include dark-red clay vessels from the south of France, beaded bowls and round baskets from Tanzania, and a dozen pasta bowls from Deruta, Italy. “I really like bowls that reflect a place,” she says. “I like it when the colors resemble the sun and the terrain of what grows there.”
HER SOURCES: Adams travels the world to research her recipes, and prowls stores everywhere she goes. Locally, she frequents the Cambridge Antique Market, Pod, and Nomad, all in Cambridge.