San Francisco Fall Antiques Show 2008

By , October 29, 2008

Every year, I look forward to attending the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show for months in advance. Not only is it always the best party in the industry, (caviar stations every 10 feet!) but the show itself never disappoints. I go with my clients and always find something unexpected that shapes the design of their home just a little bit differently than we had previously planned. That spontaneous inspiration is part of the fun that adds that very personal touch to finished project.

Dealers come from all over the world and save their best finds of the year to bring to the show. Like Mallet out of New York and London. Look at a piece they brought this year:

One of a pair of metal side tables

One of a pair of metal side tables

This pair of early 20th century polished steel side tables was fabricated as a polished steel plinth supported by similar balusters at the back and early 19th century Gothic steel balustrade elements at the front. I would call these a striking example of taking the classics and using them in a new fresh way.

There were several dealers who decided to feature “Pietre Dure”, the technique of using small, exquisitely cut and fitted, highly-polished colored stones to create what amounts to a painting in stone. The stonework is glued stone-by-stone to a substrate after having previously been cut in different shaped sections. It is then assembled together so precisely that the contact between each section was practically invisible. Here is a unique table top from one of my favorite shops, L’Antiquaire, in New York City.


The blue lapis lazuli is the largest amount of that stone I have seen in one piece, ever! The stone came from Afghanistan for this 17th century table top created for the Medici family in Florence. Now, wouldn’t this cheer up your breakfast room?!?

Here is the most incredible piece at the show. This table top was made for a prominent Roman family around 1580-1620. It is filled with extremely rare archeological hard stones. There are very few pieces of pietre dure of this quality in the world. The substrate of this is a very large piece of Alabaster. The piece has been documented by an expert from the The Getty Museum has a similar piece, as does the Prado Museum in Madrid. It amazes me that something this rare and unique is available for purchase right here is our own city. There is nothing better than a museum where you can buy the works of art!


The Scagliola technique of this next table top came into fashion in 17th century Tuscany as an effective substitute for costly marble inlays of the pietre dure works. Scagliola is a composite substance made from selenite, glue and natural pigments, imitating marble and other hard stones. With this technique, the colors could be much more vibrant than natural stone. See what I mean:

Need picture from Jane

Scagliola coffee table top circa 1800 Florence

Next, it was on to San Francisco’s own Ed Hardy . He always has the most beautiful booth!

Need picture from Jane

This voluptuous, Italian Baroque burl-walnut veneered, serpentine fronted commode, circa 1700, is from the Veneto region. It is one of the more sensational commodes I have seen. I adore it!

I can count on the local sophisticates that are Therien & Co. to have a fabulous chandelier AND something very unique. This year, it was a molded plastic (Yes, plastic! ) table designed to look like papier mache. It was from the 1960’s and of course it was from Paris. It was the most fun piece at the show!


The show is not complete if I don’t stop at my friends from The Silver Fund, formerly of London and now exclusively in San Francisco. They represent the finest in 20th century silver. They have more of that beautifully detailed, Georg Jensen silver than anyone. It looks so chic in contemporary interiors. Here is a 1925 tea and coffee set with fluted bases, elegant shapes and ivory handles. The pattern is “Cosmos”. Exquisite!


Jensen tea and coffee service

Each year, I can’t miss the Kentshire Galleries booth, to see what is new there and drool over their vintage jewelry and fabulous furnishings. They love doing this show, as there are so many wonderful fans of their jewelry, and there are very few places to shop for high quality vintage pieces in this area. Here are the Georgian Revival earrings that I am wondering if I can live without. They are that wonderful, English 15 karat gold that looks great with my skin tone. Hmmm…. Sounds like I am talking myself into them……


Habite’ had the chicest booth at the show. This is their first year of participation in this show, and they are thrilled to be part of this prestigious event. And they are from right here in SF. They specialize in an eclectic mix of mainly French antiques and vintage pieces from the 40’s – 60’s. And can they pull it all together or what? Welcome, and I can’t wait to see what you come up with next year!

Chicest booth at the show!

Chicest booth at the show!

If you didn’t make it this year, be sure to mark your 2009 calendars for the last week of October, Thursday-Sunday, so you can see the show next year!

Jane Antonacci

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