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Fine and Dandy 1 Mens Clothing Mens Accessories Collectibles undefined

Fine and Dandy

Matt Fox left the theater industry and joined forces with Enrique Crame III to realize the dream they shared of running a men's accessories boutique. In 2008, they began with an online business, which they used as a platform to present and develop their dandy style. Next, they had pop-up shops at places such as Onassis and The Blind Barber, before finally going on to establish their independent business in its current location on 49th. The duo have explored the trends of former eras, offering accessories that will appeal to anyone looking to make a snazzy statement or perfect their class act. Enrique also spoke of customers who come in searching for something to help them update their style or to simply refresh their habitual mode. Kerchiefs, bow ties and neckties in endless colors hang next to suspenders and a display of cuff links, while old-fashioned suitcases hold socks and belts. In addition to the beautiful collection of retro nouveau clothes, Fine and Dandy carries vintage toys and college pennants. The store also collaborates with artisan candle, soap, and cologne makers. One of the most impressive characteristics of the Fine and Dandy duo is their commitment to selling things made in the United States, with many of their products produced in New York. Matt and Enrique shared with me that in the few years they have been here, despite their tres petite space, this neighborhood is the "perfect spot" for them. And while observing them in action with the frequent customers stopping by, I appreciated the attentive service that they gave to everyone who came through their door.

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SJ Shrubsole 1 Collectibles Jewelry Antiques Founded Before 1930 Family Owned undefined

SJ Shrubsole

As I told Jim McConnaughy, the vice president of S. J. Shrubsole since 1982, I was, initially, intimidated to enter this world-renowned silver and jewelry shop, but after meeting him, I was able to relax and engage in conversation. There were many remarkable stories that Jim shared with me, but the most incredible was Eric Shrubsole's. His father, S. J., opened a silver shop in London in 1912, where his son learned the trade. When old enough to go it alone, however, Eric made the decision to come to the States. He traveled throughout the country collecting silver pieces, only to land in Manhattan, on 57th Street, where he has remained since 1936. What was astonishing to me was to learn that Mr. Shrubsole, at the end of 2014, is 102 years old and still coming into work. There was a time when 57th Street was filled with "serious antique shops, " Jim explained. Today, Shrubsole is one of the last remaining. Perhaps, Jim reflected, this is because they deal in small objects, and therefore do not require the same amount of space to house their merchandise. Unfortunately, the real estate prices simply forced many to move to different parts of the city. At this point, Jim mused, "We are known as having the most extensive fine English and American silver collection from the eighteenth century. " They have even sold the rare Paul Revere silver pieces. "Yes, " Jim laughingly told me, "He didn't just ride around on a horse during the Revolution. He was an excellent silver craftsman. "When I inquired about their clientele, Jim told me that they have two different types of clients - those that want to be surrounded by beautiful objects in their homes and those who are serious collectors, looking for particular pieces of silver that his company is able to locate. In addition, museums buy from them on a regular basis. As we walked through this regal shop, both Jim and Nadine, the director of jewelry, began opening up the glass doors and showing me some extraordinary items. I was particularly taken by the silver greyhound and the story that dates back to 1840. Apparently, Queen Victoria commissioned this dog as a twenty-first birthday gift for Prince Albert, shortly after they were married. It was modeled after Eos, Albert's favorite dog, and mentioned in Queen Victoria's journal. Jim was proud to tell me that they have all the documents to prove its authenticity, including information on the sculptor who made and signed it. Dating back to 1762, there was a breathtaking Rococo epergne. Nadine thought that these would have been used to serve fruits and candies, or simply displayed as a fantastic table piece. I also appreciated the intricate detail on a set of perfume bottles from Paris that were crafted in silver over glass, painted with beautiful enamel colors. Although they predominantly showcase English silver, I was struck by a case filled with original Tiffany objects from the 1890s, when Americans were influenced by Japanese prints. The decorations on many of the items were of fish, dragonflies and even turtles - all Asian inspired. The collection of jewelry was equally fascinating. Shrubsole had antiques dating back to 1680 alongside pendants and earrings from the 1980s. I saw signed jewelry by Van Cleef and Cartier, as well as some "crazy fun" retro suites from the 1940s. I marveled at a 165 carat aqua marine ring, as well as the winged ring and earrings that Salvadore Dali created in 1958. After my education in silver and antique jewelry, I had to bring our conversation back to Mr. Shrubsole, as I continued to dwell on this amazing gentleman. When I commented, once again, on his age, Jim's response was, "If you do something that you love, it keeps you going. " He went on to share a recent story when the staff was at a silver show at the Armory on Park Avenue. People were continuously stopping by to say hello to Mr. Shrubsole, who was seated on a chair, but he eventually became bored and stood up and began wandering around making purchases for his shop. Jim then paused and said to me, "Wouldn't the world be a better place if we could all do what we loved? " Indeed.

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Beads of Paradise 1 Jewelry Videos Collectibles Arts and Crafts Beads undefined

Beads of Paradise

Upon entering the front room of Beads of Paradise, we were greeted by long strings of brightly colored beads, boldly patterned fabrics, and African art filling every inch of space. While this certainly makes for fun exploring, the magic really happens further back in the store, which is replete with thousands of beads and endless jewelry-making materials. Welcoming anyone from novices to experts, the shop holds regular beading classes on Sundays. What sets this store apart from others where beading materials, pre-made jewelry, or textiles are sold, is that they are serious about beads. Really serious. Glass cases throughout the shop are filled with beads from all over the world and all periods of history. We noticed a bowl of small bead fragments labeled with the location and date of Djenne (a town in Mali), 700 AD. We became quite curious and had to investigate further. After talking to Joe, one of the managers, not only were we convinced of the validity of the labels, but as people with no previous interest in beads, we were now hooked on this store. Joe knows everything about beads, and his passion is so clear that we could not help but get excited with him. He gave us the history of several of the oldest beads in the shop - the very oldest being warring state beads from China dating to 300 AD. He then proceeded to pull out his favorite books on beads and show us how they go about dating and validating the beads. Finally, we were whisked away with a fascinating discussion on early bead-making techniques and early man’s impulse for self-ornamentation. In the end, Molly purchased one of the original Djenne beads that had caught her attention - for a mere $3. 00. It was a tiny broken fragment, but still, the fact that a piece of history was made so accessible to her was extraordinary. Of course, for those able to spend more, there is a vast selection of much larger historical beads in beautiful condition. Beads of Paradise is sure to delight anyone with an appreciation for history, jewelry, or craft-making - and if Joe is around, we recommend engaging him in a conversation on ancient cultures.

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The Red Caboose Hobby Shop 1 Collectibles Arts and Crafts undefined

The Red Caboose Hobby Shop

Led into a long hallway and down a flight of stairs by signs bearing "The Red Caboose, " I came into a basement full of what seemed every toy train part and accessory imaginable. In a small kiosk-like structure sat a man (and his cat on the counter in front of him) who was comparing acrylic and oil-based paints with a middle-aged gentleman. When his customer left, the man greeted me with a smile and a "Hello, how can I help you? " in a distinctively New York accent. Initially, I was speechless. I just needed a moment to take in what was surrounding me. I had grown up with one room in our basement dedicated to our electric train set. It had been years since I had seen anything close to resembling my fond childhood memories. That afternoon, I learned a lot about The Red Caboose and Mr. Allan J. Spitz, its owner. Although the Red Caboose opened in 1994, the No. 23 West location has had a hobby shop on its premises since 1946. The basement originally held the Model Railroad Equipment Corporation, run by Carmen "Ma" Webster. Ms. Webster got into the business because of her husband, the original owner of the store. When he left Ms. Webster, she decided to take over his store and learn everything there was to know about model train building. In a time when men dominated the hobby industry, Ms. Webster stood out as a female impresario. Undeterred by the hesitance of her male peers, Carmen Webster made a name for herself and was among the first to start selling spare nuts, bolts and parts to hobbyists who would have previously had to buy a completely new set in order to replace the pieces they were missing. Ms. Webster also began her own publication and boasted having the widest selection of model train-related items in the world. "If Ma Webster doesn't have it, no one does, " the saying goes. Ms. Webster stayed in the hobby business until 1973. Over the years, the space has changed hands a couple of times before Allan Spitz leased the location. Mr. Spitz had a passion for building warships growing up and found himself working at Polk's, a legendary hobby shop on Fifth Avenue. After spending a few years learning about the industry, he decided to leave with a couple of co-workers to open The Red Caboose. Today, Mr. Spitz is the only remaining partner of his original associates. He explained to me that during hobby shops' high water mark, there used to be four or five other places along 45th Street, but now, only The Red Caboose remains. Mr. Spitz recalls years past with fondness, saying that in its heyday, he had ten employees on payroll – now, there is usually only one other employee standing beside him. Mr. Spitz says that his customers are "old, older, and oldest, " describing hobby enthusiasts as an aging group of men who used to build model trains during their childhood. Back in the days of railroad workers, men, in between train shifts, would come during their lunch to pick up parts for their models. Nowadays, Mr. Spitz says that a good amount of his sales come from foreigners - especially Brazilians: "here in The Red Caboose, we only fly one flag, " he exclaimed, while waving a small Brazilian flag on a stick. Times have changed for hobbyists worldwide, but Mr. Spitz remains loyal and passionate about his cluttered and endearing hobby shop.

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Brigandi Coins & Collectibles

Now old enough to be as vintage as the items they peddle, Brigandi began as an antique coin vendor in 1959. Since moving to their current location in '82, they've expanded to include autographed items and other memorabilia. Coins still rule the day: dating from the late 1700s onward. I, actually, found a silver dollar from 1799, one of the first ever minted, being sold for roughly $6, 000. I marveled at the $20 pieces and the late eighteenth century half pennies. Foreign coins, from Chinese to Seychellois to Danish and beyond add a bit of exoticism. There are signed sport posters and Green Bay Packers signed footballs from their 1960s Superbowls. Hanging on the walls were old college pennants paying homage to the alumni clubs lined up on 44th Street. There were many signed baseballs, but the one that Chris Brigandi, the grandson of the original owner, pulled out from the vault, impressed me most. It was signed by both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig and had a price tag of $40, 000. I also learned a bit of history from Chris when I noticed the collection of baseball cards. In the early 1900s, cards were sold in packs of tobacco or cigarettes, thus called "tobacco cards. " It was not until the 1930s that baseball cards were inserted into packs of gum. If I had not been speechless before, I certainly was when Chris brought out a signed check by Joe Jackson dated 1919 with a price tag of $100, 000. He explained that Shoeless Joe had been illiterate so the only way he could sign his name was by someone showing him a "pattern" that he could copy. There is no doubt that collectors of every age will be fascinated by the selection of archives gathered under this one roof.