Susan Silver Antiques

413.229.8169
Susan Silver Antiques
755 North Main Street, Route 7
PO Box 621
Sheffield, Massachusetts 01257
Phone: (413) 229-8169
Fax: (413) 229-9069
susan@susansilverantiques.com

Press about Susan Silver Antiques in the Berkshires

Berkshire Byways (Excerpt)

Arthur Dunnam Finds Folk Art and More in the Massachusetts Countryside

Text by Amanda Vaill/Photography by Billy Cinningham

The Massachusetts Berkshires are blessed with a landscape not unlike that of England’s Cotswolds. A country of rolling hills, patched with tilled fields and pastures and crisscrossed by stone walls. These tempt travelers to linger and visitors to stay. There are picturesque villages to look at. White clapboard houses clustered around church steeples. Summertime, in particular, offers a progressive fete champetre of diversions. Add to that, the two-and-a half hour driving from either New York City or Boston. Therefore, you have a nearly irresistible weekend destination – as Arthur Dunnam, design director of Jed Johnson Associates, can attest.

Additionally, good friends living on the edges of the Berkshires makes Dunnam is a frequent visitor. Always, prowling through the region’s remarkably eclectic collection of antiques and decorative dealers is so enjoyable. “The unexpected thing about shopping in the Berkshires is that the range of objects is so diverse.” He continues, “It’s not just folk art or American antiques.”

For instance, start on Route 7, south of Great Barrington, just outside the village of Sheffield. This is where, he says, Susan Silver Antiques carries “unexpected things in high style.” The charming clapboard house is “literally packed to the rafters.” Dunnam describes it, with 18th and 19th century furniture, objects and light fixtures. Finds include giltwood Regency bull’s-eye mirrors, Imari jars (They’d make beautiful lamps,” he says).  French botanical and bird prints, chairs, chests and armoires. Dunnam’s favorite item is a spectacular Swedish Empire mirror with a Garden of Eden motif carved into its over-panel, but he also likes the English slate obelisk, with its faux-porphyry panels, on the table beneath it. “I’ve bought some wonderful chinoiserie lacquered tables here, and beautiful porcelain lamps,” says the designer.

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Excerpt from Architectural Digest Spotlight on Hudson Valley Homes Featuring Susan Silver as a favorite source for designer Bruce Shostak.

Decorator Bruce Shostak stands at the front door of Hillstead the Federalera house in Claverack New York he shares with...
Decorator Bruce Shostak stands at the front door of Hillstead, the Federal-era house in Claverack, New York, he shares with Craig Fitt. The home was renovated with consultant Jeremiah Rusconi.

If architecture could be compared to dance, the Federal Style house known as Hillstead, in the Hudson Valley town of Claverack, New York, would be a quadrille. Crisp, elegant, and symmetrical, the home’s formality is relieved, like the dance itself, by idiosyncratic flourishes that heighten its individuality. Certainly Hillstead’s quirky period details—from the flamboyant classical motifs carved into the living room mantel to the built-in benches on the front porch—captivated Bruce Shostak and Craig Fitt when they toured the circa-1817 property with a real-estate agent 15 years ago.

The Manhattan couple aimed to purchase the painted-brick dwelling as a country escape, but the family that had owned it since the 1930s fretted that the landmark, along with its pair of rickety barns and poignantly dilapidated redbrick summer kitchen in the backyard, would be in danger of rude modernizations once the nearly two-acre property changed hands. A number of potential buyers had made generous offers—all were rejected. Shostak, an interior designer, and Fitt, an aesthete who works in investment banking, finally won out, convincing the sellers that they would be conscientious stewards.

Shostak, a former lifestyle-book editor who founded his eponymous decorating firm in 2004, says the goal was always “to do justice to the house and furnish it appropriately but not slavishly—what I like to call period-ish.” 

After more than a decade of labor, Hillstead’s restoration is nearly complete. Its brick exterior is painted in a smart shade of white, new shutters swing easily from original iron hinges, and the scullery pipe that previously had emptied into a crawl space has been dealt with. Yet the regeneration continues. 

“If we were to do it all over again,” Fitt concedes, “I’d want a smaller place on a larger piece of property. But we felt at home here, right when we opened the front door. It’s not the most important Federal house around here, but to my eye it is the most sublime.”

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RURAL INTELLIGENCE- ONLINE MAGAZINE

SUSAN SILVER ANTIQUES:    A SURVIVOR OF THE MID-CENTURY STORM

 
Rural Intelligence Style
 
Going to extremes: We asked Susan Silver to point out some superlative pieces.
 

Oldest 

 
Chinese funerary porcelains, intended to keep the deceased comfortable in the afterlife. They date from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).  
 
Besides, what could she do? She loves the stuff. But in the last 5 or 6 years, a seismic shift began to gather force. Younger collectors were turning their backs on fine furniture as if it were no more alluring than grandma’s Grand Rapids cast-offs. Serious furniture collectors were in the thrall of Mid-Century Modern. “I actually considered, at one point, going that way myself,” Silver jokes.
 
Rural Intelligence Style
 

Most Expensive

 
A Regency drop-leaf sofa table with extra leaves, that pulls apart to reveal a backgammon board within. $36,000.
 
“Then the prices got insane,” she adds, unable to suppress a hint of glee. “They were charging a fortune for some plastic thing that was never intended to withstand decades of use. That furniture was all experimental: nobody knew how those plastics would age, what the chrome would look like in 50 years, how long the glue would hold the molded plywood together. The designers and manufacturers of most of that furniture did not know or care. They assumed that, once it started falling apart, people would toss it out and buy something else.”
 
Rural Intelligence Style                   
 

Most Difficult to Clean

 
A bronze-and-crystal French chandelier, circa 1870.                   
Fortunately, some furniture really is forever. A little over a year ago, when the pendulum began to swing back her way, Silver stood ready with her tried-and-true investment-worthy stuff. In 2008, Susan Silver Antiques was having one of its best year’s ever, until October when the economy fell apart.
 
Rural Intelligence Style 
 

What You’ll Never Find Here 

 
A pedestal (or kneehole) desk. Though she specializes in library furniture, and pedestal desks fall neatly within that category, Silver finds them “too lawyerly.” Tables, such as this English Regency library table with black leather writing surface and reeded legs are more versatile.      
 
But a shift in taste wasn’t the only contributing factor in the turnaround. “Five years ago, the designer trade started to trail off,” she says, referring to the professionals from New York, Westchester, Fairfield County, Vermont, and Boston who would make routine pilgrimages to Sheffield to visit the wide range of quality dealers there. “They’d discovered that it was easier, and they had infinitely more choice, if they shopped for antiques on-line.” Rural Intelligence Style         
 

Most Elaborate

 
An Anglo-Indian ivory-and-ebony inkstand, c. 1830.          
 
This time Silver, whose background is in advertising, leaped onto the trend. She developed her own entertaining website and got her shop listed on 1st Dibs, a web enterprise that features the wares of first-rate dealers from all over the United States. “You don’t choose them,” corrects Silver, referring to 1st Dibs, “they choose you.” She recalls the day when a handsome gentleman entered her store. After looking around with considerable care, he introduced himself as Michael Bruno of 1st Dibs. He was touring the Berkshires looking for candidates for his website. He then invited Susan Silver Antiques to be among the chosen few. “1st Dibs has made a big difference,” she says. Clients like Silver pay a monthly fee, as if they were leasing space at an upper echelon antiques show. Which, as a matter of fact, they are.
 
Rural Intelligence Style                 
 

Most Fabulous

Reverse glass paintings, c. 1880, from India.              
 
 
Rural Intelligence Style
 

Least Expensive

Metal polish imported from Germany. “It polishes silver, brass, tin, copper, but it doesn’t make the brasses, or any of the other metals, too brassy. It leaves a mellow patina, and the cracks turn black instead of white.” $35.
 
End of article
 

Architectural Digest Shopping

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Architectural Digest Anglo-Indian Papier-Mache tiger ( Tyger, Tyger)

New England Magazine Gilded Rope Mirror June 2014

Invaluable Guide to Buying Japanese Art & Antiques- Featuring our Imari Vases

Excerpt from March 17, 2017

Invaluable Guide to Buying Japanese Art & Antiques Pair of Japanese Imari vases with lids, c. 1890, Susan Silver Antiques

Japan’s long, rich history of fine and decorative art dates back thousands of years. Japanese art and antiques that have survived from centuries past include samurai swords, scrolls, prints, painting, netsuke figures, and earthenware vases. Today, these items are prized for their historical significance and unique aesthetic. Prices for Japanese art and artifacts are driven by a niche but loyal market. Collectors choose pieces for their cultural relevance, evidenced by the inclusion of Japanese works in most major museums. In recent years, the popularity of contemporary Japanese cultural trends like anime have generated a more widespread audience for the country’s rich art history and a competitive market for contemporary Japanese artists.

Tips for Buying Japanese Art

Like any investment, buying art involves some degree of risk. One smart strategy to mitigate this risk is to buy the highest quality objects available. In any market, there will always be collectors and buyers seeking out the best examples of any given object. Thus, iconic objects in perfect (or near perfect) will be more likely to retain, and possibly increase in value over time. Request a condition report or any other existing documentation prior to purchase.

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