W.S. Antiques, owned by William Saponaro, has three locations in Cape May (well, one is actually in West Cape May at 135 Sunset Blvd.) All counted for, over 180 individual dealers share their wares, both collectibles and antiques in at least one of these three spots.
The largest of the W.S. Antiques stores is on Route 109 just before it becomes Lafayette St. The store is close to the boat docks; in fact their building was used for boat repairs not that long ago. Because of the individual nature of the displays inside, the merchandise spans centuries in time, and all genres. Browsers can get lost in the silent tales suggested by old postcards, or fascinated by a case filled with hand-carved scrimshaw carved by prisoners in the 1800s.
Linda, the store operator who showed us around last month, pointed out a cabinet filled with “head” vases (vases shaped like–what else?–ladies’ heads), a popular item of decor in the mid-1900s. “Very unusual, but typical of the kinds of items you find here,” she said. She was right. Amid the Roseville, Weller and Stengel pieces, we found old toys from the 50s and 60s and even some Cape May memorabilia from the 80s…. the 1880s and the 1980s.
Rows of accessories are interrupted by elegant examples of period furniture, like a red velvet Eastlake Victorian “fainting” couch (the imagination soars considering the daily dramas this piece might speak of, if it could), a leather-topped kidney-shaped desk, and an intricate 1930s dollhouse. The merchandise changes, of course, based on sales and new dealers’ acquisitions.
We found W. S. Antiques manager Colm O’Brien, in the West Cape May location preparing the store for the Spring season. His objective in this location, he said, is to operate it as a high-end consignment store. The focus there would be on period furniture and larger top-end items. While trends vary, some popular items, according to O’Brien, are Victorian furniture, Fiestaware, jadeite, and Depression glass (blue being a color particularly in demand). An original solid bronze Albert Ernst Carrier-Belleuse nestled in a corner carries an price tag of $6,000 – a bargain perhaps?
The third W.S. location is just a short walk from the Sunset Boulevard location on Perry Street. It dominates the corner of Perry and West Perry and has been a location for antique dealers for decades before W.S. arrived. Trying to navigate through the store can be dicey when there’s a crowd. But the variety of periods and styles you nearly bump into is, like the others, as varied as the merchants who bring their wares there.
Victorious Estate Jewelry and Antiques
Not nestled into an 19th century building and not replete with stuffed furniture and dusty papers, you can find Victorious Estate Jewelry and Antiques in the recently build Washington Commons. As the name indicates, the specialty here is jewelry that was treasured in the past and still retains its value.
Among the various cases are period watches and rings with prices that span a range from easily justified to princely. While most items are antique in nature the clocks on the walls may be deceptive. These attractive pieces look weathered and time-worn but it turns out they’re “distressed” look-alikes with quartz mechanisms powered by double-A batteries.
But it’s for sure that the store’s owner, Jennifer Papendick, is the real thing. She is among the very few Certified Graduate Gemologists in Cape May.
Victorious Antiques Washington Commons location has closed. Please visit their shop in Congress Hall or in The Pink House.
Aleathea’s Parlor Antiques at the Inn of Cape May
The distinctive purple awnings signal you have arrived at the old Colonial Hotel (circa 1894), now known as the Inn of Cape May. This well preserved Victorian hotel is the home of Aleathea’s Parlour. Here you will find every nook and alcove occupied by a collection of antiques. Prints, furnishings, cut glass and curios mingle with chairs and tables. There are cases of jewelry, old and older throughout the spacious lobby of the hotel. And the furniture in front of the hotels operating fireplace is of course antique… and was advertised for sale during our early Spring visit.
We asked one of the staff persons what Aleathea’s (ah-lee thee-ahs) Parlor was best known for when it came to antiques. His reply was simple, to the point: Aleathea’s is truly an eclectic collection of Americana worth browsing.