Furniture, lots of it -- from Americana to French Victorian to Nouveau -- is the first thing that catches your eye as you enter the 6th D.C. Antiques Fair at the D.C. Armory. "People have asked for more wood since we started," says coordinator and former antique dealer Frank Farbenbloom, "so I'm trying to give it to them in furniture and decorative pieces."
Farbenbloom and his wife, Elaine, have held the fair each spring and autumn since 1978. This spring's exhibition, which runs through tomorrow and features 185 dealers from around the country, is expected to draw more than 11,000 people, according to Farbenbloom.
Maye Rosenthal of Washington is eager to show would-be customers a compact, wrought-iron dictionary stand. "Look, it comes with a globe attachment and seat that can be lowered for children -- only $650."
Another one of Rosenthal's older pieces is a wooden slave bed, belonging to a Colonel Kingsbury of Connecticut. Built in the early 1800s, the very uncomfortable-looking bed resembles a park bench. Only two feet wide, the bed was apparently not long enough to accommodate its occupant. "See where his/her toes wore down the footboard?" points out Rosenthal.The bed goes for $550.
Charles Stuart & Co. of Darien, Conn., is selling a rare, 20-piece Venetian pattern Louis Comfort Tiffany bronze desk set, $6,100. "It took me three years to collect these," says Charles Dilger.
Other items of note:
Kramer & Scott Inc. of Kensington, Md., are selling a massive Art Nouveau French walnut breakfront, $5,800. The ornately carved piece has flying buttress-type supports on either side.
Clock dealers Pat and Neal Bronsema of Ada, Mich., have a wooden music box that plays two classical tunes. Unlike many of the other exhibitors, this is the Bronsemas' first D.C. fair.
Joseph Holland of Ft. Myers, Fla., sells jewelry ranging in price from $9 for a silver enameled gold fish to $5,000 for a sterling silver Faberge cigarette case.
It's The Only in Norfolk, Va., has a 15th-century wedding chest with a carved top and painted sides ($5,000) and a set of six Centennial chairs with embroidered seats ($600).
Admission to the fair -- good for both days -- is $3.25 for adults and free for children under 14. Hours: today, noon to 9:30 p.m.; tomorrow, noon to 6:30 p.m.