Richard Kahn started collecting antiques at the age of eight. It was the mid-1950s, and Kahn scored a fabulous bit of Americana; an autographed photo of the writer Mark Twain. Even as a young boy, Kahn knew he had hit on something big. “At that age, I was being told about The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and other Twain works,” Kahn says. His interior switch was flipped, and, as Kahn says, “I really got immersed in antiques and collectibles.”
Today, Kahn owns and operates Kahn Fine Antiques, a treasure of historical and rare objects, located on Main Street in Chatham for the last 12 years. Even in a region that boasts some of the country’s most intriguing antiques and art shops, Kahn’s is a standout for museum-quality collectibles. The “new acquisitions” link on his website is a powerful collection, with everything from a 1770 brass, double-barreled flintlock pistol with silver inlays, to antique artwork, scrimshaw, and publications such as a “New and Complete Map of the City of Boston, 1848.” For many of his clients, this link is the first place to visit. “It’s important for us to keep things current, active, and fresh,” Kahn says.
One particularly rare item he acquired this winter was a pair of doors from the officers’ quarters on the USS Constitution, which date to the mid-19th century, priced at $20,000. Though the doors weren’t on the ship during the War of 1812, when the Constitution made its real splash, documentation shows the doors were on ship by the mid- to late-1880s. “It was originally a warship, and changed to a troop carrier,” Kahn says. When the ship went through an overhaul in 1927-1931, a fundraising campaign was held, and a family in New Bedford got the doors for their generous donation.