New Orleans has been described as the antique mecca of the South, and a drive down just about any city thoroughfare will reveal an abundance of storefronts boasting the treasured relics of another time. Painted on bricks or listed in signs and on old glass windows, the word “antiques” dots the city in colors and fonts as diverse as the pieces themselves. And just as there’s an abundance of antique items in the city, there’s also an abundance of ways to go about acquiring them. No matter a person’s budget, style or period preference, there’s an antique-shopping method for every shopper.
While some people prefer a quiet stroll into the quaint shops of Magazine Street or Royal Street, others find thrill and excitement in a competitive purchase. Crescent City Auction Gallery (1330 St. Charles Ave., 529-5057, CrescentCityAuctionGallery.com), a locally owned and operated full-service auction house, offers buyers a buying experience wholly different from an antique store.
“We get very full rooms,” says owner Adam Lambert. “We had over 1,200 registered bidders in the last auction, which included the packed room as well as bidders online.”
While many bidders attend the local auction, Crescent City Auction Gallery makes it possible for you to bid from anywhere in the world so long as you have an internet connection.
“You can watch the auction from your iPhone, iPad or computer,” says Lambert. “We have cameras here, and we run the bidding through online platforms.”
Crescent City Auction Gallery’s next live auction takes place December 1 and 2. Those who can’t make it to the auction can bid online and compete with bidders in the live audience.
“In New Orleans, we have a lot of people who come in from Natchez, Miss., or Houston to buy antiques and take them back home. Now they can purchase them from their stores or houses and have the antiques shipped, or they can pick them up at another date,” says Lambert. Crescent City Auction Gallery auctions antiques of all varieties – furniture, fine art, pottery and jewelry – which include everything from a Chinese Bronze Lotus Buddha that recently sold for $18,960 to contemporary works by local artists.
For those who’d rather take their time meandering through rooms of antiques, searching every last nook and cranny, Renaissance Interiors (2727 Edenborn Ave., Metairie, 454-3320, YourRenaissance.com) brings the eccentricities, charm and adventure of a Paris flea market to New Orleans with their new 18,000-square-foot facility. They boast superb consignment antiques, paintings, mirrors, sliver, porcelains and one-of-a-kind items in abundant supply.
As one of the largest consignment shops in the South, the inventory at Renaissance Interiors changes daily and dramatically. Part of the excitement for the store’s 8,000 monthly customers is not knowing what they might discover on any given day.
Their low-key sales environment makes for a fun store-wandering experience in the middle of Metairie across from Lowe’s.
Another popular way to shop for antiques is to go directly to an expert – someone who has spent years in the business and knows how to authenticate pieces, as well as how to arrange them into the existing style of a shopper’s home. Ken Rogers, owner of Dunleith Designs and Antiques (1537 Metairie Road, Metairie, 272-0879, DunleithDesigns.com), does just that. Specializing in fine and vintage American, English and French antiques from the 17th through the 20th centuries, Rogers personally selects items for his store, items he knows to be of good quality and value.
“I authenticate everything I buy to the best of my ability and choose things that are in good shape and don’t have to be totally restored,” says Rogers, who stresses the importance of utilizing an expert. At one vendor, Rogers once discovered that a supposed iron French fountain was “Made in Mexico” right before a sale.
“Everybody can be fooled, and of course it depends on how much you pay for something, but it can be a tragedy,” he says.
In addition to selling antiques at Dunleith Designs, Rogers also offers interior design services. A new design center within his Metairie Road store is dedicated to consultations and stocked with a variety of fabric samples for window treatments, bed coverings and upholstery for antiques.
Another local interior designer, Caroline Robert, owner of perch. (2844 Magazine St., 899-2122, Perch-Home.com), assists clients directly in the acquisition of antiques. With the help of fellow interior designer Jack Mayberry, Robert actively seeks items for clients.
“People utilize us as a resource when looking for specific things, and we try to seek it out locally, whether it be through vendors or estate sales,” says Robert.
In redecorating, Robert recommends that in addition to acquiring new pieces, shoppers should consider the antiques or vintage items they may already own.
“People should take a second look at what they’ve inherited from their parents and grandparents and consider utilizing those in their design scheme. Often things can be repurposed or refurbished for a new look,” says Robert.
The interior of perch. displays the creativity of Robert and Mayberry in every corner. With antiques as well as vintage and contemporary items, perch.’s eclectic space is inspirational, a great place to see how a combination of contemporary and antique styles can blend together seamlessly.
While shopping for an antique dresser or desk, one rarely purchases it from a modern-day carpenter. When buying antique jewelry from a current designer, you gain the unique perspective of an artist on the artwork that preceded his own. Beginning in the French Quarter in 1975, Symmetry Jewelers (8138 Hampson St., 861-9925, (800) 628-3711, Symmetry-Jewelers.com) was founded with the concept of returning jewelry to its rightful place among the arts, and since then brothers Tom and Richard Lee Mathis have continued to further this goal by offering Tom’s original creations alongside a growing allotment of vintage and antique jewelry.
“We’ve always been known as a contemporary gallery, but we’ve expanded to four cases of estate and antique jewelry – three cases of pendants, earrings, watches and bracelets, and then another case of vintage and antique settings that are engagement oriented,” says Richard Lee Mathis, Gallery Manager.
While some antique items are sent to Symmetry by national and international estate dealers, others are acquired locally. Pieces range from the mid- or late-1800s to estate pieces from the 1950s-’70s. Symmetry Jewelers is located in the Riverbend and is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and also by appointment.