The result: Philadelphia's Antiques Week - comprising two auction previews and two shows starting Friday night - offers inspiration on how to mix periods harmoniously, a party for new collectors, and a broadened roster of vendors that will display antiques through the 20th century.
Even the Philadelphia Antiques Show, which runs Saturday through Monday, has an added subtitle - "Antiques & Art/17th through 20th C" - an attempt to redefine the 52-year-old show. Although that goal may not be fully realized for a few more years, the dealer mix is gingered up to appeal to a broader clientele.
In its second year at the Convention Center, the event has expanded its roster slightly to include about 64 dealers. But more important, one-quarter of them are new to exhibiting there. Some of them focus on traditional antiques fields, but most are art dealers, including Bernard Goldberg Fine Arts and Hawthorne Fine Art from New York, the Cooley Gallery from Connecticut, and the Somerville Manning Gallery from Delaware. They will be displaying a wider range of 20th century paintings and sculpture to complement the examples from earlier centuries on the floor.
(A number of familiar names have departed, citing reasons from too-high city taxes to changing markets. Among them are art dealers Hirschl & Adler Galleries, folk art specialist Fred Giampietro, Brant Mackley with American Indian and world tribal art, and textile dealers Cora Ginsburg and Jan Whitlock.)
On Saturday, the show also will offer its fourth annual New Collectors Night. Although there will be tasting sessions of local food and wine, the primary goal is to build relationships between the show's exhibitors and younger potential customers.
A cochair of the party, Gabrielle "Gaby" Evers, who just turned 40, said, "There's a new focus on artwork this year, which I think is very appealing to a lot of people. We expect to see a wider range of price points, so owning art will be more tangible for our group."
Evers, like many of her peers, cultivates interiors that mix styles.
"For me personally, I might find a piece that inspires the decor of an entire room," Evers said.
To encourage that idea, a group of local interior designers has highlighted "inspiration pieces" on the show floor, and New Collector partygoers will get a list of their picks.
"I'm just getting to that point in my life where I can start thinking about collecting antiques," Evers said. ". . . There's no place to start like the antique show."
It's an event Nina Neel and her friends have attended since its inception.
"We wander around, talk to the different dealers - and ask questions . . . . I always leave there with a bunch of business cards," she said. "Even if I don't have a spot for something I saw, I like to keep track of the exhibitors."
Decorative arts are a good place for new collectors to start.
Veteran exhibitor Marcy Burns Schillay carries American Indian arts, including bold graphic pottery, textile, and basketry pieces. A significant example of Acoma pottery can be had for $4,000 to $5,000, and she is bringing a miniature wedding vase from the late 19th century for $850.
"I do like the idea of having a new collectors' night," she said. "The group includes 30- to 50-year-olds, but that's the right population. Those are the people who are interested in buying, and they're educating themselves."
New to this year's show, exhibitor Patrick Bavasi from New York says he does well with younger clientele - offering well-made, unusual pieces. He will bring a sculptural Continental fruitwood and walnut corner chair - a great shape for a four-figure price.
Longtime participant Paul Vandekar will broaden his ceramic offerings to include the decorative tablewares of Italian artist Piero Fornasetti (1913-1988). These 20th century pieces have strong visual impact and sell in the $200 to $1,500 range.
At the 23rd Street Armory Antiques Show, the other main show during Philadelphia Antiques Week, 43 dealers plan their displays to maximize appeal for both beginning and advanced collectors, show owner Frank Gaglio said.
"This is a show with something for just about every taste and budget," he said.
One special feature at the Armory is "Opening Doors," the personal doorstop collection of well-known toy auctioneer Jeanne Bertoia. Every shape and subject, these clever metal sculptures are a perfect room accent, singly or in a group.
If You Go
The 52d Annual Philadelphia Antiques Show, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Hall F, 1101 Arch St., Saturday-Monday.
Tickets: $20 at the door, $17 for seniors and online.
Information: www.thephiladelphiaantiquesshow.org, 610-902-2109
The 23rd Street Armory Antiques Show, at First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry Armory, 22 S. 23d St. between Market and Chestnut, Friday-Sunday.
Tickets: Friday, $15; Saturday and Sunday, $12. Information: www.barnstar.com, 914-474-8552
Freeman's, 1808 Chestnut St., Philadelphia American Furniture, Folk & Decorative Arts "Antiques in the A.M.," preview Sunday, 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m., auction Wednesday.
Information: www.freemansauction.com, 215-563-9275
Pook & Pook, 463 East Lancaster Ave., Downingtown, Period Furniture, Fine Art and Accessories, preview Saturday, noon to 5 p.m., auction April 19 and 20.
Information: www.pookandpook.com, 610-269-4040