“We keep coming back because it is one of America’s best antique shows, in a great location, with top dealers bringing new items to the market,” says Martin.
“It is the cornerstone of what has come to be known as Americana Week, with the auction houses, smaller shows and private galleries all over the city focusing on American art and antiques.”
In merchandise terms, what makes the fair distinctive, says Martin, is the focus on Americana which he reckons to be the most exciting aspect of the fair. “It feels like a – these days, much-needed – celebration of America.”
The other thing that really sets the show apart, he says, ”is that it is one of the few major shows in the world entirely devoted to charity”. He adds: “In fact, most of the old dealers still call the show ‘East Side’ because the beneficiary of the show is the East Side House Settlement in the Bronx — an organisation that helps people from disadvantaged backgrounds with everything from getting an education to getting a job
“A recent New York Times article covered the closing of the Barnes and Noble bookstore there, noting that it leaves an entire borough of the city, home to 1.5m people, without a single general-interest bookstore. The charity is appropriately foregrounded during the show, so most of the visitors can get a sense of what their ticket money and purchases are supporting. It creates a nice atmosphere.”
Asked how this 63-year-old veteran event has altered in terms of content and exhibitor profile, Martin reckons “the most recent change was that, with the waning of the International Show, there were more English dealers”.
However, he adds: “I’m not sure whether that will change back again, now that TEFAF is producing the show in October.”
Are there any innovations he would like to see at WAS?
“Nope, I like old-fashioned antique shows,” he adds succinctly.