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Collectibles at Atlantique: Something for Everyone

by Sandra Lee Stuart (08/28/08).

After a hot summer of collectibles hunting in barns, flea markets and fairgrounds, Labor Day means it’s time to head indoors for collecting conventions and shows—and perhaps the biggest is Atlantique City.

Atlantique City is billed as one of the world’s largest indoor antiques and collectibles shows. This year’s fall show will be held October 18-19 at the Atlantic City Convention Center. The show attracts up to 1,000 dealers from more than 40 states and three continents to serve 10,000 visitors.

The giant show holds possibilities for everyone, whether you are buying a 19th-century carved mahogany desk fit for a railroad baron or content to sit at a folding table examining vintage railroad timetables and freight manifests.

To help visitors navigate what amounts to a collectibles bazaar, a computer kiosk sorts through 1,200 categories of antiques, fine art and collectibles. Attendees also can have items verbally appraised by celebrity experts.

WorthPoint is the sponsor of a special exhibit at the show. Worthologists will be on hand to offer their expert advice.

“What attracted me to WorthPoint is that it is built with the collector in mind,” said Eric Bradley, who produces the show for F&W Media, the world’s leading publisher of antiques and collectibles guides and periodicals.

“We combine commerce with collecting, and we want to partner with companies like WorthPoint that feel the same way,” Bradley said.

WorthPoint recently agreed to acquire GoAntiques Inc., the oldest antiques and collectibles Web site and a significant online network for buying and selling antiques and collectibles. Its network includes 600,000 items from more than 1,300 dealers in 31 countries and the world’s largest antiques and collectibles price guide, PriceMiner®.

“The new, bigger WorthPoint will have more than 1 million visitors a month to our combined Web pages,” said WorthPoint CEO Will Seippel. “Atlantique City is the largest indoor antiques and collectibles show, and it has been a destination for collectors for more than two decades.

“We complement each other in important ways to better serve collectors,” Seippel said. “It’s a great partnership.”

Atlantique City was founded in 1986 as an antique toy show by Norman Schaut, a former New York advertising agency executive best known for the “Don’t Squeeze the Charmin” campaign. It soon expanded to embrace nearly every category of collectibles and welcomes collectors with budgets ranging from a few dollars to six figures.

The Atlantique City show is held twice a year—in late March and mid-October.

Last March, more than 4,000 people were waiting for the doors to the two-day show to open at 9 a.m.

Bradley said the two shows have differing personalities. The spring show tends to offer more prestigious acquisitions. The fall show has a wider variety of collectibles, and dealers are looking to move merchandise they have been holding for months.

“There is a little more dealing in the fall, and the appraisal booth is very busy,” Bradley said. “Dealers find it’s a good chance to swap out inventory before they take on new inventory for the holidays.”

Attendance has dipped since the mid-1990s, but the show has maintained its large presence because collectors still like to consider major purchases in person and verify an item’s authenticity and condition.

“Collectors have more confidence buying big-ticket items in person, when they can talk with the dealer and inspect the piece,” Bradley said. “Our attendance might be a little lower than it was years ago, but the quality is up.”

Dealers fill the Atlantic City Convention Center with 18th-, 19th- and early 20th-century period antiques and fine arts including Tiffany lamps and metalwork, American folk art, European and American bronze, drawings, prints, fine furniture, Asian art and antiques, glass, porcelain and silver, as well as fine estate jewelry.

True to the show’s origins, there will be plenty of antique and vintage toys, ranging from cast iron and tin windups to dolls, vintage robots and cars. The toys span eras from Victorian to the Baby Boomer.

The October will have two additional features. The Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival will be held concurrently at the convention center. Bradley said the two shows will offer a shared discount ticket option.

The Atlantique City show also will feature the traveling exhibition “The American Presidential Experience.” That exhibition is sponsored by WorthPoint and currently is open at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

If You Go to Atlantique City . . .

Hours: Saturday, October 18, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday, October 19, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Advance tickets can be purchased through Friday October 12. Tickets are $10-15, or $25 for both days. Children under 12 are admitted free.
Advance ticket holders get in at 9 a.m. on Saturday.

Directions: The Atlantic City Convention Center is located at One Miss America Way, Atlantic City, NJ 08401. Parking and a free shuttle bus is available at Bernie Robbins Baseball Stadium. If you are driving, take Exit Two from the Atlantic City Expressway and follow the signs.

Information: Go to the Atlantique City Web site, or e-mail the program’s coordinators at info@atlantiquecity.com

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