Antiquing on Cape Cod
The joy is in the hunt—unless you’re driving aimlessly in search of the perfect antiques shop. Cut to the chase and leave more time for browsing: These local treasures will remind you why there’s no time like the past.
Discover a new obsession: You had no idea you were bat-crazy for antique maps until you found yourself poring over an 1816 hand-colored map of the West Indies as if it were a novel––or found yourself crushed (crushed!) that someone beat you to a vintage bird’s eye view of the Cape, illustrated with such beautiful, finely detailed ships, wharves, and landmarks, that you would have considered carrying it around with you all the time. Welcome to Maps of Antiquity in Chatham, where the collection of antique and reproduction maps, nautical and maritime charts, celestial and constellation maps, and comparative maps—ranging from whimsical tourist guides to works of art—is breathtaking. If you’ve never been lost in a map, begin here.
Be authentic: Some “antiques” shops have gone the way of yard sales; any bric-a-brac as old as last week gets thrown into the heap. All the more reason to love Windsong Antiques in Harwich. Owned by the Baylis family for 60 years, you can see their lifelong passion in the thoughtfully curated collection of beautiful country furniture, glass, 18th and 19th century English ceramics, 19th and 20th century American pottery, sterling and coin silver, and estate jewelry. Only next door, the kids are whizzing around on go-karts, but you’re drifting somewhere along the Rhine, on a true-blue 1850 Staffordshire cup plate.
Expect to be surprised: Two things about Buzzards Bay Antiques. 1) The constantly rotating inventory of handmade jewelry, antiques, furniture, and collectibles, including vintage sheet music, toys, comics and signs. 2) The scenic location. Situated right across from the Railroad Bridge in Buzzards Bay, you can follow up your antiquing with a leisurely bike ride along the Cape Cod Canal. A win-win!
True love is timeless: As you browse The Mews at Brewster––a seven-shop collective of all things Americana, folk art, country furniture, primitives, tin and wireware, woodenware, hand tools, quilts, hooked rugs, garden antiques (is your head spinning yet?), stoneware, and all styles of art glass––you’ll discover the collection of chocolate and ice cream moulds and realize that some things, such as the longing for chocolates that are handmade in the shape of a fish, never change.
Make it an adventure: Some say antiquing is boring, and let them. The rest of us will be at Eldred’s in East Dennis, plotting our bid on an antique cherry and pine bed with spiral-turned footposts or set of creamy Wedgewood plates. The 60-year-old Cape auction gallery also provides appraisals, which means you can live out your fantasy that the old lamp collecting dust in the basement is your ticket to fortune.
Go right to the source: Sandwich is an antiques-lover’s dream; the Cape’s oldest town is fittingly home to a treasure trove of antique shops, many boasting specimens of the namesake mold-blown and pressed glass that was manufactured by the Sandwich Glass Company in the 1820s. One local favorite not to miss when you’re in town: Sandwich Antiques Center on Route 6A, a jaw-dropping showcase of antiques from dealers around the country that seems to never end. You won’t want it to.
Find strength in numbers: Mark your calendars for the Cape Cod Antique Dealers Association Late Spring Falmouth Antiques Show, a one-day feast for the eyes held at the Cape Cod Fairgrounds in Falmouth. The annual show features the treasures of more than 30 exhibitors to benefit the association’s cultural enrichment fund to provide grants to area museums, libraries, and cultural centers. The 2019 show will be Saturday, June 1; visit the CCADA website for more info (and a members guide to the region’s best shops and dealers.)
Happy hunting. :)