In a world of “less is more,” antiques, with their ornate exuberance, sometimes appear much too much. And while a graduate might have in the past been presented with a string of pearls to commemorate her achievement, today’s grads are getting iPhones or the newest tablet computer instead.
However, thousands of people from all over the world will flock to South Florida in the coming week to buy, sell and see antique furniture, jewelry and the like.
The Original Miami Beach Antique Show, which kicks off Thursday and runs until Monday, Feb. 1, expects more than 20,000 attendees and will feature antiques from nearly 1,000 international dealers.
Just 15 miles away, the 36th annual Miami Antique Toy Show will take place on Jan. 31 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., uniting antique-toy aficionados of all ages.
“I think everyone appreciates a good story,” said Margaret Schwartz, the 31-year-old owner of The Summer House, a Connecticut-based antique store.
Dan Darby, whose company is tasked with organizing the Miami Beach antique show, as well as its New York City and Las Vegas counterparts, estimates that more than a billion dollars worth of merchandise will be on display. Goods will range from decorative accessories, like porcelains, oyster plates and perfume bottles that cost less than $100, to large furnishings, like built-in bookcases and Victorian-era armoires, that cost upwards of $300,000.
Numerous factors, like maker and age, determine the price of antiques, but the biggest difference between contemporary and antique items is provenance, a term that refers to the story behind each piece.
“At an antique show you’re going to find pieces that no one else has,” Darby said.
The same goes for antique toys, according to Tom Graboski, who has helmed the Miami Antique Toy Show for decades alongside fellow hobbyists Peter Zorn and Steve Fuller.
The value of antique toys, according to Graboski, a graphic designer by day and avid collector of toy boats by night, is primarily determined by how many pieces were originally manufactured.
According to industry veterans, their value is one reason antiques remain popular.
“They’ve beat the stock market to all hell,” Graboski said, laughing.
According to Darby, there are two types of antique buyers: those who are curious and have a natural passion for antiques, and those seeking financial gain.
“Pieces grow in value,” Darby said. “They’re an investment for the educated buyers.”
Darby explained that the Internet has provided buyers with the tools necessary to educate themselves, creating a crop of antique enthusiasts who are more knowledgeable about the value and history of individual pieces, and antiques in general, than ever before.
According to IBISWorld, a provider of industry information that aggregates information across various business sectors, sales of antiques and collectibles has grown by about 6 percent since 2010. This growth is due to online sales of antiques.
Ruby Lane, an e-commerce platform that features products from more than 2,500 antique and vintage sellers, for example, sells more than $125,000 worth of inventory each day, according to Palmer Pekarek, Ruby Lane’s senior vice president of operations.
“It’ll be interesting to see how the industry develops in the next few years,” said Schwartz, who will be making her way to South Florida for the Original Miami Beach Antique Show on Wednesday.
If you Go
Original Miami Beach Antique Show
When: Jan. 28-Feb. 1. Showtimes are Thursday through Sunday from noon-8 p.m. and Monday from noon-5 p.m.
Where: Miami Beach Convention Center, 1901 Convention Center Dr.
Cost: Admission is $20 to attend all five days
For more information: Call (239) 732-6642 or visit www.MiamiBeachAntiqueShow.com
Miami Antique Toy Show
When: Jan. 31 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Ramada Inn Airport, Palmetto Expressway (SR 826) Northwest 103rd Street Exit
Cost: $7 ($5 for children 5-12; free for kids 5 and under)
For more information: www.miamiantiquetoyshow.com