Friday, July 9, 2010

Exploring Old Treasures in a Dusty Store

As expected many retailers were closed in Philadelphia on July fourth, but not everyone. Walking up 2nd Street in the Old City neighborhood there was an antiques store open.

The Jules Goldman Books & Antiques (29 N. 2nd St.) store has only been at this location for seven months, which is why we were not familiar with it. He did little to nothing when it came to renovating the dilapidated store front or even inside the store. It doesn’t matter because the place is dream for anyone who loves to explore.

The store specializes in books and paintings, but you can find anything in the deep, narrow space. Vases from everywhere in the world share space with hundreds, of Sotheby’s catalogs. Painting and prints spill over every corner, nook and cranny. Thousands of books line the shelves of mismatched book cases and cabinets and stacked on the floor.

The affable owner Jules Goldman was sitting by the front door working on his computer. He told us he’s at the store every day. He goes to estate sales in the early morning two days a week and brings his finds to the store to open by late morning. In addition to what’s available to the public, there’s a large back of the store with more antiques and he has a farm house in Bucks County that has even more.

There were just a few people in the store around noon. A heavy set person wearing a “wife beater” t-shirt saw an old 45 rpm record on Goldman's desk with a black and white cover titled, “Stickball,” named after the popular baseball-like game played on the streets of East Coast towns and cities up until the 1970s. He asked Goldman to play it, which he did on an antique record player. It wasn’t a song as much as someone musing about the old days with music in the background. It was awful but it did coax some memories of another time. The three of us starting talking about stickball and handball and every other kind of game we played that involved a ball when we were kids.

The man asked Goldman about the record and he had no information. That’s the thing about Goldman and about his place. He collects without the rigor of historical information and other details that many collectors have. But he does have a good eye and knows his stuff. He just has way too much of it to keep track of it properly or know its provenance.

Near the back of the store on top of a cabinet were several large chandeliers. Indonesian art works depicting wayang shadow puppets near the front. Goldman notes that the frames are British. Why? Who knows? Asian and French art works share space with old Coca Cola marketing products. Even the books are stored haphazardly; although a large collection of French cookbooks were in one place. And, of course, there are records and CDs. I’m no expert, but everything that had a tag attached seemed to be priced fairly, particularly the paintings.

It’s an antique store where anyone can find something of personal value.

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