20 East End Avenue
Artful Antiquing on the Upper East Side
Though it’s no longer thought of as “the silk stocking district,” Manhattan’s Upper East Side has never lost its air of quietly refined elegance. The stately homes and Upper East Side townhouses that line the famous neighborhood’s streets have been occupied by Rockefellers, Roosevelts, and Kennedys as well as the likes of Andrew Carnegie and Edith Wharton. Today while strolling those same streets and browsing the plethora of expertly curated antique shops in the area, one can still enjoy a sense of a more refined and discerning age.
Decorators, interior designers, and local residents alike delight in the sumptuous offerings found within those shops, especially when furnishing Upper East Side penthouses and other residences within nearby luxury condominiums. In a span of less than two square miles, they can find a selection of art, furniture, and objets from around the world that range from Oriental rugs, Georgian silver, and Ming pottery to Federal and Queen Anne furniture. There are dozens of antique dealers and shops to explore within the Upper East Side, and while the joy of discovery is part of the appeal, here are just a few of the most select purveyors of antiques in the area.
On 61st Street, the Doris Leslie Blau Antique Carpet and Antique Rug Gallery offers an impressive array of floor coverings that includes antique Orientals from Turkey, Persia, China, and India; Continental Art Deco and English/Irish Arts and Crafts gems; and the finest contemporary designs from around the world. Rugs from their gorgeous collection have been featured in fashion shoots as well as in period films and television shows. Blau’s knowledge of and dedication to the history and craft of carpet-making is unparalleled, and her gallery even provides a bespoke service for designers, architects, and select individual clients.
Treillage on 75th between York Avenue and 1st Avenue specializes in antiques and furnishings for the garden, deck, balcony, or terrace. They also offer certain interior antiques as well as contemporary pieces and lighting. This is the place to visit when one is seeking a Ming-era urn or an Italian stone fountain, classical statuary or even hand-carved American barn doors for an outdoor living space.
For Chinese furniture from the Ming and Qing dynasties, seek out M.D. Flacks on the 20th floor at 32 East 57th Street. Flacks is particularly known for its selection of precious hardwood furniture, though it is one of the few places in the world where you can find antique Chinese stone furniture as well. The store also features “scholar’s objects,” traditional desktop treasures usually intended for writing or painting that often serve as unique decorative pieces, along with some sculptures.
James Robinson at 480 Park Avenue is known worldwide for its collection of silver tableware from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries, its specialty for over 100 years, along with select pieces of nineteenth- and twentieth-century jewelry, fine antique porcelain, and glass. Its expert silversmiths can also recreate antique patterns for those who wish to replace a missing piece or simply wish to start a tradition of their own.
Didier Aaron Gallery at 32 East 67th Street between Park and Madison Avenues is the New York branch of a French gallery that offers French Continental furniture and art from the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries. Their magnificent collection of museum-worthy pieces from the Rococo and Neoclassical periods and the Regency era continues the legacy of the original Parisian gallery, which was founded after WWII and is still one of the most important sellers of fine French furniture in the world.
American antiquarians will find five stories to explore at Bernard and S. Dean Levy at 24 E. 84th Street. Here one can find Federal, Chippendale, Queen Anne, and Sheraton furnishings; China trade porcelain as well as Delftware; American case and mantel clocks; and mantelpieces, lamps, paintings, and tableware from the eighteenth to the early twentieth centuries. Their collection of early American and Victorian-era needlework is especially beautiful and includes colonial-era samplers as well as the finest in nineteenth-century silk embroidery.