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The S.F. Fall Antiques Show.

LabelKing

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Today I went to the S.F. Fall Antiques Show, known as the West Coast's most prestigious show, or as according to their website.

Aside from a few exhibitors, everything was decidely lackluster. I could have found more interesting and higher quality things on eBay. And the prices were accordingly sky-high for things that, again I could get on eBay for the proverbial fraction.

There was one booth selling vintage gold-filled(not even solid gold) wristwatches by the likes of Hamilton and Bulova for something like $1000.

There was also a late 19th century Bosendorfer piano which was apparently restored. And restored it was, looking like the black-face paint of some white tin-pan alley performer, thick and unscrupulous. All for $135,000! Really, a Chinese child-worker could do a better job.

A few Asian paintings that I could find at a flea market for $100 at most; ugly American "barn finds"; inferior quality Chinese porcelains; minor Cartier trinkets; all very unappetizing.

The on-site restaurant was also overpriced with dreadful food--I could have had a better meal at a Costco for no money.

As well, the parking used to be free and now they charge you an hourly rate which added on to the option of a $10 valet parking is a big scam.

At least the people were mostly dressed well but I can't account for their taste in cars which ran to the requisite yuppie-mobiles.
 

Full Canvas

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Originally Posted by LabelKing
Today I went to the S.F. Fall Antiques Show, known as the West Coast's most prestigious show, or as according to their website.

Aside from a few exhibitors, everything was decidely lackluster. I could have found more interesting and higher quality things on eBay. And the prices were accordingly sky-high for things that, again I could get on eBay for the proverbial fraction.

There was one booth selling vintage gold-filled(not even solid gold) wristwatches by the likes of Hamilton and Bulova for something like $1000.

There was also a late 19th century Bosendorfer piano which was apparently restored. And restored it was, looking like the black-face paint of some white tin-pan alley performer, thick and unscrupulous. All for $135,000! Really, a Chinese child-worker could do a better job.

A few Asian paintings that I could find at a flea market for $100 at most; ugly American "barn finds"; inferior quality Chinese porcelains; minor Cartier trinkets; all very unappetizing.

The on-site restaurant was also overpriced with dreadful food--I could have had a better meal at a Costco for no money.

As well, the parking used to be free and now they charge you an hourly rate which added on to the option of a $10 valet parking is a big scam.

At least the people were mostly dressed well but I can't account for their taste in cars which ran to the requisite yuppie-mobiles.


These days, such venues are no longer the gathering place for individuals with a deep and abiding interest in whatever is being promoted. Antiques, alone, are not the only "victim" of hype and promotion in ever-increasing democratization. The San Francisco Antiques Show is merely entertainment these days. It must be promoted as such to maintain its viability.

Another example is the upcoming San Francisco International Auto Show at Moscone Center. Even though the show has grown enormously over the years, the atmosphere and quality diminish in proportion to the growth.

Until a few years ago, we frequently drove from La Jolla to visit family and friends in Santa Cruz during the Thanksgiving holiday. While there, a day trip to San Francisco was obligatory to see the Auto Show. Having first seen the show in the 1960s while it was held in the smaller and more intimate Brooks Hall beneath the Civic Center, I witnessed the so-called improvements change the show's character much the same as you describe with the Antiques Show.

Imagine yourself as a teenager walking right up to the Ferrari display and opening the door of a 275 GTS or a well-worn 250 LM and plopping down in the driver's seat. Spencer Buick (Bev Spencer) out on Geary near 37th or 38th had the Ferrari franchise during those years and Bill Harrah distributed the Ferrari automobiles from Reno. S & C Ford on Market Street would typically bring a Ford GT40 or two for the crowd. They had Pete Brock come from Shelby with a Cobra Daytona. The Lamborghini dealer del giorno would display a 350 or 400 GT. Fiat Abarths, ATS, Maserati, Lancia, Alfa Romeo, Bizzarrini, a de Tomaso Vallelunga, Iso cars, a veritable litany of Italian cars was there. BMCD on Van Ness Avenue had all the Austin-Healeys, MGs, Jaguars, Minis, and Lotus cars there. Opel, Porsche, Glas, BMW, and Mercedes were there. Don Wester brought his repaired Sebring 904 from the dealership in Monterey and Vasek Polak trucked-in a 917 from Hermosa Beach. Mercedes brought the fabulous W163 from its museum. Even the French were there with Citroen, Renault, Peugeot, Simca, and Matra. Yes, most every single car in the place (except the 904, the 917, and that W163!) was unlocked and approachable. Brooks Hall was the closest thing America had to the shows in Turin, Paris, Geneva, or London.

After his near fatal crash at Goodwood and long before his knighthood, Sir Sterling Moss was the big draw at Brooks Hall. He was paid to speak and entertain subsequent questions twice each day. Phil Hill also appeared more than once. Pete Brock spent most of the time hiding from the crowd. He wasn't such a social fellow. The SCCA installed a theatre for continuous films all day long. Most of those were the classic 35mm Triangle Films' productions.

Whether it is antiques, automobiles, sports, comic books, or you-name-it, the shows simply can no longer cater to the true enthusiasts as they once did. It is a sad case of economic fervor besting antiques fever. Nevertheless, true enthusiasts still buy the occasional admission ticket in the hopes of finding a treasure of some sort!
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itsstillmatt

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I went to the opening of the Paris Biennale this year and found it both fascinating and appalling. I believe it was one of the first times in many years that the Grand Palais has been used, and it is spectacular. The antique jewelry was astounding. It literally had to be seen to be believed. What I found appalling was the idea of Jean Prouve tables being listed for 300k. He, the crusader for good design for all, must have been turning in his grave.

I could walk to the SF one, but will not.
 

LabelKing

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I have been to the S.F. Car show at the Moscone center and it had the atmosphere of a Donald Trump Seminar. Only the Fords, Toyotas, Kias, etc. were open for public consumption while a few entry-level Porsches, Ferraris, and Rolls Royce were put behind partitions in a small corner. There was a Maserati stall that looked like a horse corral--you had to be admitted to even examine the cars. Amidst the exhibit were those small booths that you find in malls, complete with company logo-shirted attendants, making you sign up for email lists and coercing you to win a car.

I believe the Grand Palais had some extensive renovations done because of the glass panels. And in this instance, it can be said that the French (and Italians) would be swelling with pride at their superiority. The S.F. Antiques Show was of course, held at the Fort Mason center which presumably was an old warehouse.

The only shows that I can think of that still mainly cater to an enthusiast crowd would be the local camera shows. Otherwise, they all have the semblance of a glorified flea market.
 

kabert

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The annual antiques show in DC, held at the Omni Shoreham in Woodley Park each January, is a similar affair -- much more a place to look at people and at outlandishly priced spindley chairs than actually to buy anything. I think I last bought something about 5 or 6 years ago. It's always fun to people-watch though, as DC's old guard always goes to such things, and there are lots of well-dressed people generally.
 

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