Hit the road to visit 6 Cape & Islands antique shops!
Check out these shops to find unusual and fascinating treasures
In today’s technology-driven world where many seem to live in a haze of Twitter updates and Instagram stories, one might find a sense of comfort in connecting with the days of old in a tangible way. Yes, #ThrowbackThursday can be fun, but it’s a lot different from actually finding a piece from the past in the real world.
With their collections of bygone treasures—each with their own stories—antique shops offer a foyer into the past. The pieces they sell can add unique character to a living space or take on new life as part of the history of a home. In this article, we highlight six antique dealers on Cape Cod and the Islands that specialize in finding, restoring and introducing to customers one-of-a-kind pieces from the past.
Like the items housed within, the building that is home to the Sandwich Antiques Center on Route 6A carries its own unique history: the structure previously served as the Yankee Clipper restaurant, then the Baretree Inn during the mid and late 20th century. With 5,500 square feet of retail space, the store offers the broadest selection of antiques on the Cape, says owner Paul Dobson. “Basically,” Dobson says, “our criteria is: one, is it interesting? And two, is it quality?” Antiques in the shop date from the 1700s to the mid 1900s and include everything from Sandwich-made glass, to a 600-piece inventory of vintage lighting. “That,” Dobson says of the light collection, “is worth coming in to see all by itself.”
Continuing along Route 6A, one finds Eldred’s Auction Gallery in Dennis, owned by Josh Eldred, Mary Ann Eldred, and John and Susan Schofield. Josh Eldred, whose grandfather founded the company in 1952, says the third-generation business is the oldest antiques auctioneer in New England, and the company specializes in antique Americana, marine, Asian and other types of artwork. “As often as we can, we try to offer ‘fresh’ merchandise,” Eldred says, “things that haven’t been in the market over and over again but are new, exciting discoveries.” Upcoming auctions include a contemporary art sale on Thursday, August 10, featuring paintings by Provincetown artist Anne Packard; and Eldred’s 50th annual Asian art sale, August 22-26.
On the Lower Cape, antique enthusiasts will also enjoy Kahn Fine Antiques on Main Street in Chatham. Owner Richard Kahn says customers might get the feeling they’re aboard a 19th-century luxury yacht while browsing in the shop. “When we designed the building, I wanted the place to feel nautical,” Kahn says. That makes sense as the company focuses on maritime antiques such as telescopes, sextons, naval officers’ swords, maps and scrimshaw pieces. The first floor of the gallery, done in solid mahogany, features a vaulted barrel ceiling with ship slats, and a balcony above gives the look of a ship’s bridge.
For more seafaring finds, visitors can set a course to Yesterday’s Treasures on Provincetown’s Commercial Street. Owners Jay Gagne and Jack Delmond keep their 750-square-foot shop stocked with collectibles, many of which are connected to Provincetown’s whaling history. Maps, historic documents, and harpoons and other fishing equipment from days’ past are just some of the treasures on hand. Customers will also find Chinese exports and Japanese imari pieces that whalers brought back to P-town in the early 1800s. “We’re always adding new stuff,” Delmond says. “It’s a very interesting, very eclectic mix.”
For those who fancy antiques from the United Kingdom and other areas of Europe, Tonkin of Nantucket might be just the spot. In business since 1970, Tonkin has one of the largest collections of European antiques on Nantucket, with 10,000 square feet of showroom space. Each year, owner Robert Tonkin spends three to four months across the pond searching for new and unique finds to bring back to Nantucket—from English country furniture and silver and brass accessories, to old-fashioned medical instruments, Staffordshire figures and pub signs. “We might have more English pub signs than anyone else outside of England,” Tonkin says. “They are so colorful, and they have great history behind them.”
At Past & Presents on Martha’s Vineyard, there’s always something old and something new in both of its stores on Main Street in Edgartown. “We have a little bit of everything,” says Bev Fearey, who owns the two-shop business with Jane Norton. “It’s nice to mix it up.” Fearey and Norton also travel to England every year, in search of furniture—like Victorian bamboo—and accessories such as biscuit barrels and china. They visit Atlanta as well to acquire more contemporary pieces, including lamps and placemats. Past & Presents even sells hurricane glasses and etched glassware specially made for the store by Vineyard artisans.