Design & Décor, Living with Style, The Newport Diary

The Newport Antiques Show

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One of the most anticipated events on our bustling town’s summer calendar is the Newport Antiques Show (July 24th-26th.) With its sharp focus on fine American and English antiques, the regional show pays homage to Newport’s legacy as one of the seats of early American furniture (think Townsend-Goddard.) No wonder it’s considered a premier antiques venue!

And importantly to me, and its founding dynamo, Anne F. Hamilton, the Newport Antiques Show is the only show of its caliber that benefits two non-profit organizations – the Newport Historical Society and the Boys & Girls Club of Newport County – “supporting Newport’s past and Newport’s future,” as Anne says (in the center of the photo below with two of her fellow co-chairs, Kim Palmer, left, and Eaddo Kiernan, right.)


As a fellow board member of the Boys & Girls Clubs at the time (2007) I well remember Anne’s enthusiasm for introducing this successful concept to Newport. A quick conversation with Ruth Taylor, the Newport Historical Society’s Executive Director who embraced Anne’s vision immediately, and the Show’s future was an assured success.

Antique American Wicker

The Thursday night Preview Gala always has the makings of a must-do evening (real “eye candy,” as I like to say) – scrumptious antiques, paintings, fine decorative arts and jewelry within beautifully curated vignettes (Show manager Diana Bittel personally selects each of the 40 exhibitors from the country’s top dealers); delicious hors d’oeuvres buffets and well-coiffed and festively dressed cocktail guests, collectors and arts patrons.

It’s no surprise that I found myself running into a number of friends at the elegant, small booth, Johanna. Her taste suits us to a “t,” with the most representative examples of names we all recognize: Tiffany, Seaman Schepps, Elizabeth Locke and David Webb, e.g. (I must confess that I thought these whimsical earrings deserved to stay in Newport, so…)

Leatherwood Antiques
Leatherwood Antiques

The sight of beautiful woods is such a signature of an antique show. Here, two gorgeous examples…a small, original oil on birds-eye maple panel of State Street, Boston (circa 1835) by Nicolino Calyo and a matched pair of burr yew wood inlaid Hepplewhite tables, their tops remarkable for their serpentine shape (one, a tea table, the other a game table) by Mayhew and Ince (circa 1770.)

James M. Kilvington
James M. Kilvington
G. Sergeant Antiques
G. Sergeant Antiques

The Show’s setting is reason enough to come out. Overlooking one of the island’s three unparalleled crescent moon beaches, St. George’s School has made its hockey rink available since the Show’s founding (a stellar example of the community support provided by island institutions for our town’s good causes.)

© 2009-2015 The Association of Boarding Schools
A hard-to-find model tugboat (circa 1900-10) all wood with brass fittings; the sloop is a graceful counterpart to the workhorse tug. White’s Nautical Antiques.

An additional incentive for attending this year’s Show was the exhibit, “Liberty Forever: Treasures from the Museum of the American Revolution”. What a timely decision since the Tall Ship L’Hermione was just in our harbor, reminding us that the outcome of our War of Independence might have been very different had it not been for the support of France.

Museum of the American Rev -1

As I said, it’s a festive, fun-filled evening that mixes excellent shopping opportunities to share with friends.


So chic – red lace makes its own statement amongst the boutique’s offerings.


A freshly picked, pristine magnolia blossom brings the garden to the Show.


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About Bettie Bearden Pardee

Author of Private Newport and Living Newport, garden furniture designer (The Parterre Bench), national lecturer, and entertaining expert. An honoree for the second year on "The Salonniere 100 America's Best Party Hosts", she was also the host and creative producer of "The Presidential Palate: Entertaining at the White House".