Ani Antreasyan is a buyer. When she sees “it,” she simply knows.
Like a pair of light green 8-feet-tall-by-9-feet-wide Belgian barn doors. Or an Austrian wooden horse dating back to the early 20th century. And a colorful collection of hand-etched, Turkish pendant lights. As well as marble, stone and terra-cotta planters.
Each of these purchases intrigued her. They made her think. She imagined the objects’ pasts and considered their future. And if a piece fails to elicit that feeling, the antiques dealer keeps walking.
“I buy everywhere I go, wherever I see something—could be Southampton, could be Chicago, could be Paris or Istanbul, where I was born,” Ms. Antreasyan, who splits her time between Manhattan and East Hampton, said last week during a telephone interview. “It’s about a mix of texture and history and origin. It needs to be interesting. And I don’t buy anything that I wouldn’t place in my own house.”
The right antique can make a space, according to Ms. Antreasyan, who will stock her booth at the Bridgehampton Antiques & Design Fair this weekend with unusual objects from around the world.
She isn’t the only one. Ms. Antreasyan will be joined by 24 fellow designers in the Bridgehampton Community House—a range of collections and personalities from across the country and the Atlantic, organizer Dallas Boesendahl said last week during a telephone interview.
“We always try to offer an extraordinary selection of items, make sure it’s not going to be things thrown onto a table,” he said. “It’s not that kind of a show. It’s a higher-end show and we want people to be surprised. That’s the main thing: it’s not something they can walk in and normally see everywhere.”
For both the dealers and the shoppers, it is all about the hunt, Connecticut-based antiquer Glen Leroux explained. Nothing gets him more excited than stumbling upon great 20th-century decorative art: from a C. Jere sailboat wall sculpture and Arthur Court gilded lily tables to vintage Chanel handbags and a Tiffany & Co. 18-karat, gold-and-diamond starburst set, circa-1940s.
“I grew up in it,” Mr. Leroux said last week during a telephone interview. “My mother was an antique dealer and she was friends with two of the largest Tiffany dealers in the United States—Robert and Gladys Koch. I grew up around it, seeing all of these wonderful things.”
Antiquing comes second-nature to Mr. Leroux, as does collecting for Ms. Antreasyan, who first began with little boat figurines at age 2 while growing up in Turkey, which she fondly called a “city of sea and water.”
The hobby grew from there, she said.
The antiques world was a happy departure for former toy specialist Stuart Cropper, he recalled last week during a telephone interview after packing up items for the fair in his warehouse in England. In the boxes were a series of brass ring picture frames, quill boxes dating back to the British Raj in India and a French, 32-inch-tall artist mannequin from the early 19th century, for which he’ll be asking $12,000.
“If I could deal in nothing else, I would deal in 18th- and 19th-century artist mannequins,” he laughed. “But unfortunately, it’s not a business because the good ones don’t come along often enough, and they’re generally pretty expensive when they do. But this one we’ve got is very, very good. You get one like this every couple of years.”
The industry is unpredictable and packed with adrenaline, Mr. Cropper said, especially while bidding at auction.
“You get very nervous and excited, if it’s something you really want,” he said. “And if you manage to buy it, you’re elated. It’s fabulous. It’s like drugs, really. Quite often at fairs here in England, you’ll see something fabulous after you’ve been wandering around for five hours and not bought anything. And down the years, I’ve probably had, oh, a dozen things that I didn’t even know existed before the minute I saw them.”
It happened recently when one of Mr. Cropper’s close friends and fellow collectors pulled out a box and said, “I’ve got something you would like.”
As an aside, Mr. Cropper pointed out, “She knows me very well. In some cases, it means, ‘You’re the only customer for these idiotic things.’”
Inside the box were three “tiny little figures of mice” holding rakes and a small shovel, he said. And they’re dressed.
“Not even 2 inches high,” he said, “but the detail on them is absolutely fantastic. That’s the great thing about all of this. You could have locked me in a room for a week and said, ‘Write down the list of things you want to buy in the next six months,’ and although I love those and they’re great, they wouldn’t have been on the list because I couldn’t have imagined it before I saw it.”
The Bridgehampton Antiques & Design Fair will kick off on Friday, August 23, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Bridgehampton Community House. The sale will continue on Saturday, August 24, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, August 25, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $5. For more information, call (212) 308-7029 or email email@example.com.