Did you know women have been in the antiques business since the early 20th century?
A recent article in the Maine Antique Digest titled “Miss Edgerton’s Ye C0lonial Shopp” “Or Women in the Trade, Part Two” tells several stories of women in theantique business beginning in the early 1920’s. The following are excerpts from the article by Jeanne Schinto.
“You’ve sold all my things. You’ve sold my mother’s china. You sold the rugs, You sold the portraits. You’ve made a business out of it–selling the past. What kind of a business is that–selling the past?” from “Public House”, John Cheever, The New Yorker, August 16, 1941.
One of the ways women smoothed their transition from homemaker to moneymaker was to emphasize to potential customers that a visit to their shop would include socializing–tea drinking, eating, even bridge and board games. The business card of Emily F. Peacock of Miss Peacock’s Antique Shop in Freehold, New Jersey issued to the world at large an invitation to “Afternoon Tea.” Tearooms in antique malls are not a new phenomenon. In the December 1924 issue of The Antiques Magazine an advertisement for a Mrs. Caliga of Danvers, Massachusetts whose business was located in the James Putnam House (furnished in antiques) offered “Luncheons, Dinners, Teas, Bridge Parties, Social Gatherings, (and) Mah Jong Parties”, along with her “Rare Old Oriental Art Objects”. Marie Gouin Armstrong of The Stepping Stone in Connecticut emphasized in her March 1924 ad that her shop was known from Coast to Coast for its Hospitality to Lovers of Antiques.”
There are more stories of the ladies inviting guests to visit and one clever dealer in her ad in 1926 added “I collect treasures of those days (childhood memories and stories from grandparents) because I love them. May I have the pleasure of showing them to you?” She did not use the word sell, but that was her intention.
Provenance can play an important part in an appraisal. Have any stories and history you would like to share?