6 City Art Buying Guide

Every summer, collectors from around the world flock to these market hot spots in search of the ultimate piece. Here, the fairs, galleries, and people to know.

Native American Art

A historic trading center in a region dotted with pueblos, Santa Fe is the epicenter of the Native American art market. With dealers offering top-quality and increasingly rare material, the city is a magnet for buyers. The list of prominent collectors who have homes here includes Edwina and Charles Milner, Joann and Gifford Phillips, and Emily Fisher Landau, who sold a big chunk of her collection at Christie's in January for $1.8 million.

When it comes to antique Indian art, the leading galleries are around the plaza in the center of town and out along Canyon Road and West San Francisco Street. Material ranges from Panamint baskets, Plains ledger drawings, and Pueblo pottery to Navajo blankets, Cheyenne garments, and the now hard-to-find Hopi kachina dolls. In August the annual Indian market in the plaza brings in 1,200 exhibitors from about 100 tribes selling handmade contemporary work. In breadth of activity, Santa Fe "definitely surpasses Tucson and Scottsdale, its nearest rivals," says Henry "Chick" Monahan, director of Morning Star Gallery. "The quality of material here is the highest and the range is the best."

Morning Star Gallery
For serious collectors, Morning Star deals in some of the choicest pieces to be had anywhere. The 22-year-old gallery is also one of the largest and most diverse in the Native American field, exhibiting at world-class fairs such as New York's Winter Antiques Show—where this year it sold a Powhoge polychrome ceramic storage jar, circa 1775, for around $225,000. At presstime the offerings in the gallery included a large group of ledger drawings made in 1879–82 by Frank Henderson, an Arapaho, priced from $20,000 to $30,000 each. Monahan notes that such drawings are now especially coveted and have even turned up at the contemporary fair Art Basel Miami Beach. The gallery also has a prime selection of Washo baskets from the first quarter of the 20th century, which Monahan calls "the heyday of Native American basketry production." And a rare 1860 Nez Perce war shirt is available for $220,000. At 513 Canyon Rd.; 505-982-8187; www.morningstargallery.com.

Michael Smith Gallery
A private dealer for a decade before opening this gallery in 2003, Smith, a textiles specialist, shows Navajo weavings from 1870 to the mid-20th century, priced from $1,000 to $25,000. "They are from a window of time and will never be replicated," he says. A gorgeous 1910 example that can be traced to the Teec Nos Pos, a trading post in the Four Corners area of northeastern Arizona, is $10,000. The pictorial design features arrows at the edges and center, with a hook motif at the border that shows the influence of Oriental carpets. At 526 Canyon Rd.; 505-995-1013; www.michaelsmithgallery.com.

Kania-Ferrin Gallery
Headed by John Kania, a former anthropologist, and Joe Ferrin, this gallery specializes in the basketry that many tribes have stopped making. Prices are on the rise, especially for the fine weaves of the southwestern tribes (and for the larger baskets in general). Their gems include a single-rod weave Pomo basket, from 1890 to 1900, with original clamshell bead decorations and quail topknots, priced at $16,000. At 662 Canyon Rd.; 505-982-8767; www.santafe-websitedesign.com/kania.

Open by appointment only, this private gallery is a partnership between former Morning Star director Malcolm "Mac" Grimmer and David Roche, a consultant to Sotheby's American Indian department. Grimmer says business is strong for "any historic pots, great baskets, and very good Plains beadwork." One of their top pieces is a $300,000 Cheyenne war shirt with extensive beadwork, from around 1850. At 422 W. San Francisco St.; 505-982-8669; www.grimmerroche.com.

Steve Elmore Indian Art Gallery
Indian pottery collectors covet pieces attributed to known makers, says Elmore, an expert in historic ceramics. He has an 1898 seed jar crafted by the Hopi potter Nampeyo, for $28,000. Though she never signed her work, her pots are identified by, among other qualities, their distinctive polychrome abstract decoration. Elmore is also offering a San Ildefonso olla circa 1910, with black-and-red floral and geometric designs. Tagged at $31,500, the work is attributed to the esteemed potting couple Martina Vigil and Florentino Montoya. At 839 Paseo de Peralta; 505-995-9677; www.elmoreindianart.com.

Robert Nichols Gallery
For the most innovative contemporary Native American pottery, this is the shop. Here Nichols shows hot young artists such as Diego Romero of the Cochiti Pueblo, who makes pop culture–infused pots decorated with action figures that riff on traditional Mimbres ceramics ($2,000–$10,000), and Nathan Begaye, a Hopi-Navajo potter who creates ceramic masks inspired by ancient Hopi kachinas ($1,500–$2,500). At 419 Canyon Rd.; 505-982-2145; www.robertnicholsgallery.com.

Santa Fe Indian Market
The Southwestern Association for Indian Arts, which organizes this annual market, requires that all work exhibited must be handmade and cannot include anything commercially produced. For collectors of contemporary Indian textiles, ceramics, and jewelry, it is an essential event. Notable are the many young Native American artists giving their traditions a decidedly current twist, such as potter Jacob Koopee Jr. (the great-great-grandson of the Hopi master Nampeyo); bead artists Teri Greeves (a Kiowa) and Marcus Amerman (a Choctaw); and Navajo weaver Anita Tsosie, who does contemporary interpretations of medicine ceremonials. The quality here is generally high, and it's easy to spend several thousand dollars on a pot or a rug. This year's market takes place August 19 and 20. 505-983-5220; www.swaia.org.

Works of Sculpture

June has long been high season for the London art world, when dealers, auction houses, and museums put out their finest for the annual pilgrimage of collectors and curators from all over the globe. Three years ago a dozen top galleries launched Sculpture Week, a series of coordinated exhibitions in mid-June aimed at reaching out to established and new buyers and promoting London as an international center for sculpture.

The event covers everything from Greek and Roman antiquities to Asian pieces to modern and contemporary works. It serves as a kind of cross-section of the broader London market, which boasts a greater depth of expertise than any other city. Not only can many of the world's leading dealers and restorers be found here, but there are superb public collections, such as the permanent display of European sculpture at the Victoria & Albert Museum. "It's what London is good at," says medieval art specialist Sam Fogg, one of the dealers in this year's Sculpture Week, which runs from June 15 to 23.

All the participating galleries are within walking distance of one another in the Mayfair area of the city, and they host opening-night receptions on June 14. Stuart Lochhead, a director of the Daniel Katz gallery and the organizer of Sculpture Week, remarks, "It's an alternative model to an art fair. The great thing is that the dealers don't have to leave their galleries." 44-207/493-0688; www.londonsculptureweek.com.

Rossi & Rossi
Anna Maria Rossi and her son Fabio specialize in works of art from Tibet and the Himalayas. During this Sculpture Week they are unveiling a late-17th- or early-18th-century Mongolian gilt-bronze figure of a Buddhist deity from the studio of the great artist Zanabazar, priced at more than $850,000. Only about 20 of Zanabazar's sculptures are known to have survived. New interest from "Far Eastern collectors who are beginning to buy Himalayan art," says Fabio Rossi, is helping to push up prices. At 13 Old Bond St.; 44-207/355-1804; www.asianart.com/rossi.

Daniel Katz
The world's best museums buy from the veteran Katz, who deals in top-notch European sculpture from medieval times to the 19th century and is renowned for his fantastic eye. The gallery recently sold the Wenlock Jug, a medieval English bronze tankard coveted by New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, to the Luton Museum in Bedfordshire for $1.3 million. This June they will be showing terra-cottas from the 15th to 20th centuries, mainly French and Italian—one notable example is Benedetto da Maiano's late-15th-century marble figure of Saint John the Evangelist, a piece made for the altarpiece of a Naples church. At 13 Old Bond St.; 44-207/493-0688; www.katz.co.uk.

Robert Bowman Gallery
Husband-and-wife dealers Robert and Michele Bowman specialize mainly in late-19th- to mid-20th-century English and French sculpture, though they also sell a selection of contemporary works. In June they are offering a 23-inch-high cast of Auguste Rodin's bronze The Kiss for $442,500 and The Sentinel, a three-foot-high bronze figure modeled by the British artist Michael Ayrton in 1962, priced at $39,000. "There is a big demand for trophy pieces by well-known artists such as Rodin because people are buying blue-chip art with confidence," says Robert Bowman. At 8 Duke St.; 44-207/839-3100; www.robertbowman.com.

Sam Fogg
"Stone sculpture is what people seem to want because it fits well into modern interiors," says Fogg, one of the world's leading dealers in medieval art. His Sculpture Week exhibition features around 30 religious works from the 11th to 16th centuries, highlighted by a 15th-century alabaster altarpiece with scenes of the Passion, carved in the English city of Nottingham. He also has four 11th-century Italian marble relief fragments, carved on both sides, which are thought to have once been part of a screen. Prices in the show range from $10,000 to $700,000. At 15D Clifford St.; 44-207/534-2100; www.samfogg.com.

Rupert Wace Ancient Art
"The antiquities market is strong for well-provenanced, high-quality pieces, of which there are a finite number," says Wace, who handles Egyptian, Classical, and Near Eastern antiquities along with European works from prehistoric times until A.D. 1000. His personal passion is Egyptian art. Although traditional collectors form the core market, he notes, decorators and contemporary art buyers are increasingly attracted to antiquities. In June Wace is exhibiting a second- to first-century B.C. Greek terra-cotta figure of the goddess Aphrodite for $50,000 and an A.D. fourth-century Roman marble head of a bearded man, perhaps a river god, for $85,000. At 14 Old Bond St.; 44-207/495-1623; www.rupertwace.co.uk.

Sladmore Gallery
Bronze animal sculptures have been Sladmore's speciality since it was founded in the sixties, but the gallery also handles a range of other 19th-century bronzes and selected modern and contemporary sculptures. "There is an enormous demand from collectors for monumental pieces, usually for their gardens but sometimes for big houses," says gallery director Gerry Farrell. British sculptor Geoffrey Dashwood's seven-foot-high Tawny Owl ($93,000) and Rembrandt Bugatti's Walking Puma, a tabletop-size bronze modeled around 1911 ($400,000), are among Sladmore's Sculpture Week highlights. At 32 Bruton Pl.; 44-207/499-0365; www.sladmore.com.

Aboriginal Art

Australia's Aborigines have been making art for thousands of years, but much of the work now on the market was created after 1971. That was when community advisor Geoffrey Bardon encouraged Aborigines in Papunya Tula, outside Alice Springs, to transfer their nonsacred ancestral motifs and narratives—once rendered on bark, sand, rock, and the body—onto paper and canvas using Western materials.

Today, strikingly contemporary interpretations of the pioneering "dot and circle" compositions (often compared to American minimalist paintings) are attracting growing international interest, notably among collectors of modern and contem-porary art. The finest works by Aboriginal stars Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, and Rover Thomas have soared to hundreds of thousands of dollars at auction.

This rush of popularity has spawned a cottage industry in mediocre knockoffs, which can be found in tourist stores across Australia. There are also cases of paintings being farmed out to "cousins" and problems with outright fakes. "The last time I was in Alice Springs," says Melbourne dealer William Mora, "my taxi driver had paintings from a dozen 'artists' in the boot." He notes that the best galleries have forged long-standing relationships with Aboriginal communities, ensuring that the galleries show only genuine talent.

Aboriginal art can be found in all the country's major cities, but Melbourne is the leading market center. It is home to top dealers, and the highest-profile auctions are held here each winter. For those looking for a primer, the National Gallery of Victoria is showing "Land Marks," a rare survey of Aboriginal art stretching back to the 1880s, through June 11.

Auction competition has heated up here in recent years, but Sotheby's—the first house to grasp the market potential of Aboriginal art—still outpaces rivals Lawson Menzies, Bonhams & Goodman, Shapiro Auctioneers, and Christie's, which announced in March it is closing its salesrooms in Australia. On July 31 Sotheby's is staging a special tenth-anniversary auction in Melbourne. After some mixed results the past couple of years, the company is looking to recapture the roaring success of its record-setting 2003 sale, which topped $5.5 million. Tim Klingender, Sotheby's head of Aboriginal art, attributes the drop-off to not "having some of the magnificent works we had earlier." The July auction, he says, "will be smaller and more highly curated." One highlight is a 1986 work by Rover Thomas, Lissadell Country–Bugaltji, estimated to bring $300,000 to $450,000. At 926 High St., Armadale; 61-39/509-2900; www.sothebys.com.

Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi
Early among dealers in recognizing the power of Aboriginal art, the late Pizzi mounted a seminal exhibition of paintings from Papunya and Yuendumu in 1987. The loftlike gallery in the city's center, now run by her daughter, Samantha, demonstrates that Aboriginal art is not tradition-bound, presenting photographic collages from Leah King Smith and wiry sculptures from Lorraine Connelly-Northey. At 75–77 Flinders Ln.; 61-39/654-2944; www.gabriellepizzi.com.au.

William Mora Galleries
Four or five times a year, Mora goes into the bush to meet with artists. "The more remote the area, the stronger the art," he remarks. This is definitely the case with one of his artists, Paddy Bedford, who does spare interpretations of traditional dot and circle paintings, with evocative expanses of rich earth tones. Mora also has significant works by Emily Kame Kngwarreye, including an explosion of pink brushstrokes painted two months before her death in 1996, priced at $88,000. "At that stage she was into the pure act of painting," Mora says. "It was her last exuberant gasp." At 60 Tanner St., Richmond; 61-39/429-1199; www.moragalleries.com.au.

Alcaston Gallery
More traditional works, with their direct representations of tribal mythology, dominate at Beverly Knight's gallery, a reflection of her 18 years of working with art advisors in Aboriginal communities. "Often the most prominent artists are elderly and they end up supporting as many as fifty family members," she explains. "I'm urging their advisors to take the pressure off them—get them to paint less, even if it drives the prices up." At 11 Brunswick St., Fitzroy Victoria; 61-39/418-6444; www.alcastongallery.com.au.

Niagara Galleries
Owner William Nuttall has 11 Aboriginal painters in his stable of 45 international contemporary artists. His July show presents new works by Fiona Foley, priced from $1,000 to $6,000. Budding star Rosella Namok also exhibits here. Nuttall insists that showing Aboriginal artists in a more conventional gallery context allows "viewers to concentrate on their pieces as art, something that is new and absolutely nonderivative." At 245 Punt Rd., Richmond; 61-39/429-3666; www.niagara-galleries.com.au.

Tribal Art

In the world of tribal art, the focus this summer will be the June 20 unveiling of Paris's Musée du Quai Branly, the huge new museum designed by Jean Nouvel for the French national collections of African, Oceanic, and pre-Columbian art. But before shuffling down to Paris, some 3,500 tribal art collectors, dealers, and museum curators will pay their annual visit to the Brussels Non-European Art Fair, better known by its acronym, BRUNEAF.

Running June 7 through 11, this is no fair in the usual sense; it's an open-door event featuring 50 dealers (25 from outside Belgium) within a short stride of the Place du Grand-Sablon, the quaint, café-lined square in the heart of the city. To accommodate all the exhibitors, galleries in the neighborhood rent portions of their space to dealers from out of town.

With presentations that vary from cluttered to minimalist, the range of work on display is staggering. Owing to Belgium's colonial history in Congo, there is a natural emphasis on central African masks and fetishes. But if last year's show is any guide, one can expect to encounter everything from Bactrian alabaster–handled weights and 4,000-year-old terra-cotta burial jars from the Indus Valley to Nariño gold earrings from Colombia and Inuit hunting visors made of wood, ivory, and seal whiskers.

Since 2003 two new concurrent fairs—the Brussels Ancient Art Fair and the Brussels Oriental Art Fair—have expanded the buying opportunities to antiquities and Asian art as well. There is some overlap between the three events, but they complement each other, meshing into a vibrant five-day marketplace. "This new synergy can only benefit everyone," says longtime Brussels dealer Pierre Loos. "Visitors tend to have specialist interests, but most are only too happy to explore other fields." 32-2/514-02-09; www.bruneaf.com.

Patrick & Ondine Mestdagh
The organizing chairman of BRUNEAF, Patrick Mestdagh, calls the event "an invitation to stroll through a magical quarter that reverberates with the sounds of tribal art—and is full of surprises." An eclectic dealer-collector who handles pieces from all over the world, he targets new buyers by pricing most of his material under $12,000. Last year he sold an early-20th-century Mangbetu tapa mat from Congo with an Art Deco–like pattern, and a two-foot-long South African hairpin made from rhinoceros horn. At 31 Rue des Minimes; 32-2/511-1027; www.patrickmestdagh.be.

Claes Gallery
At 35, Patric Didier Claes is a rising star in the Brussels trade, dealing in objects from central and western Africa. Last year he sold a Nigerian Chamba statuette to the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., as well as a large Yombe maternity figure in the neighborhood of $150,000. Claes says both pieces had well-documented provenances, something that's increasingly important to collectors looking to avoid looting issues. At 32 Rue Ste.-Anne; 32-2/414-1929; www.didierclaes.com.

Bernard de Grunne
A major player in African, Oceanic, and Indonesian art, De Grunne says that the city offers tribal collectors "knowledge, competence, and very reasonable prices." Which is not to say inexpensive. Among his recent sales was a five-inch-high Tongan goddess in yellowish whale-tooth ivory from the 18th century and a grimacing early-19th-century female Songye figure with a "magical patina" of oozing black palm oil. Both cost $240,000-plus. At 2 Place du Petit Sablon; 32-2/502-3171.

Wayne Heathcote
Oceanic specialist Heathcote features work from the South Pacific. He has amassed a selection of New Zealand treasure boxes intricately carved in indigenous kauri wood that were used for, among other things, storing Maori head feathers ($9,000–$30,000). Visitors to his new space (he changed locations in April) will also find ritual masks and wooden figures from Papua New Guinea—where Heathcote spent 13 years and worked as a jungle policeman—ranging from $2,400 to $18,000. At 67 Rue Lebeau; 32-2/502-6528; www.heathcote-gallery.com.

Kevin Conru
The largest chunk of Conru's business is in African objects, but his airy upstairs gallery has everything from Hopi dance masks to life-size wooden figures from New Ireland. Conru's recent six-figure sales include a rare 19th-century wooden shield with starburst patterning from Astrolabe Bay in Papua New Guinea and a three-foot-high honey-colored female Tsonga figure that was used for initiation rites in South Africa in the 19th century. At 8A Rue Bodenbroek; 32-2/512-7635.

Ambre Congo
Affectionately dubbed Papa by fellow dealers, Ambre Congo owner Pierre Loos founded bruneaf two decades ago. This year the central African specialist is exhibiting two late-19th-century circular "crowns" from the Tetela tribe in Congo, with raffia and wooden frames supporting hundreds of red feathers. Loos likens them to "papal tiaras" and is asking $25,000 for a two-foot-tall example and $18,000 for a smaller one. At 13 Impasse St.-Jacques/16 Rue Ste.-Anne; 32-2/511-1662.

Contemporary Art

For one week every June, this charming Swiss town perched on the banks of the Rhine becomes the art market's epicenter. Top dealers, collectors, and curators converge here for the marathon of social networking and dealmaking that surrounds Art Basel, the world's most prestigious fair for international modern and contemporary art.

Rooms at the Trois Rois hotel are fully booked a year in advance, and tables are like gold at the bustling Kunsthalle restaurant, where collectors François Pinault, Gloria von Thurn und Taxis, and Michael and Judy Ovitz might be spotted dining in the garden near such star artists as Maurizio Cattelan and James Turrell and, of course, heavyweight dealers from around the globe.

The frenzy has been ratcheted up even more by a pair of smaller fairs, Liste and Volta, which focus on younger, edgier art. The presence of two world-class private museums—the Schaulager and the Beyeler Foundation—as well as special public art installations, lectures, and other programs only adds to this not-to-miss festival.

The Basel model has given rise to a number of similar events—New York's Armory Show in March, London's Frieze Art Fair in October, and Art Basel's own Miami Beach sister fair in December— but the 37-year-old Swiss show remains the paragon. "Even with all the newer fairs springing up in other cities, it's still the most important," says Geneva gallerist and collector Pierre Huber. "Basel is the universal meeting point for people interested in contemporary art. All the dealers bring their best works, because they know the best clients will be there."

Art Basel
The madness starts before the main fair even opens, as rival collectors scheme to beat their peers to the most desirable pieces. Some determined buyers have posed as gallery employees or workmen to gain early access while the booths were still being installed. This year the floodgates officially open June 13 at 11 a.m., when the VIP vernissage begins (the public isn't allowed entrance until the next day), and by mid-afternoon a few exhibitors will have sold out their stands completely. Six days later, when the show closes, many exhibitors will have rehung their booths several times, periodically bringing in new works to replace those that have sold.

Nearly 300 dealers take part in the fair, so seeing all of them requires planning and endurance. On the ground level one finds blue-chip galleries like L&M Arts of New York, Jan Krugier of New York and Geneva, and the multinational Gagosian, offering a mix of big-ticket new and secondary-market works—such as the reportedly $80 million Picasso that London dealer Helly Nahmad exhibited last year. Upstairs, the offerings tend to be younger and fresher. Blum & Poe of Los Angeles will bring a huge Takashi Murakami painting, priced at more than $500,000. As gallery co-owner Tim Blum explains, "Basel and Art Basel Miami Beach are the only fairs for which we really encourage the artists to create new works, because of the collectors and curators who come."

Blum & Poe is also collaborating with the Paula Cooper Gallery of New York on a massive mobile by Los Angeles artist Sam Durant (in the $150,000 to $200,000 range), installed in the Art Unlimited section, a hangarlike hall designated for pieces too big or boisterous for a fair booth. Zurich gallery Mai 36 is bringing an 8-by-27-foot canvas by Anke Doberauer and coproducing a 1,200-square-foot pavilion by Matt Mullican that Mai 36's Victor Gisler describes as "half shelter, half ruin, with walls made from bulletin boards." At Halls 1 and 2 of Messe Basel, Messeplatz; 41-58/200-2020; www.artbasel.com.

Liste—The Young Art Fair
Now in its 11th year, Liste proved the viability of the now widely copied satellite-fair concept. Held in the former Warteck Brewery building, a stone's throw from the Rhine, Liste confines itself to about 50 galleries, most of them less than five years old (and no gallery can participate more than four times). Exhibitors at this year's show—June 13 through 18—include Natalia Goldin of Stockholm, Daniel Hug of Los Angeles, and Daniel Reich of New York. Initially ignored by the heavy hitters who patronized Art Basel, Liste is now de rigueur for cutting-edge collectors—such as Donald and Mera Rubell of Miami and Susan and Michael Hort of New York—who comb the labyrinthine aisles for the next big thing. Nonetheless, for newer collectors with an appetite for risk, the chances of buying something significant here are much higher than at Art Basel. Another plus: Prices at Liste generally range from $1,000 to $5,000, rarely breaking $10,000. At the Warteck Brewery bldg., Burgweg 15; 41-61/693-0347; www.liste.ch.

Volta Show
Debuting last summer, Volta is where you find quality galleries too old to be in Liste yet not accepted into Art Basel. The inaugural day was a barn burner—many stands sold out as collectors like LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault and developer Jerry Speyer stormed through the show buying up works. It helped that Volta's organizers offered the power collectors VIP speedboat-shuttle service along the Rhine. As Roebling Hall gallery codirector Peter Ryan recalls, "Volta had a lot of buzz and people liked the size because it wasn't so daunting." Not to mention the fact that much of the work was in the low five-figure range, making it comparatively affordable by the standards of today's raging contemporary art market. This year's edition, running June 14 through 18, is moving to a bigger site near the French border in Basel's industrialized zone and is raising the number of exhibitors from 23 to 40—participating galleries include Enrique Guerrero of Mexico City, f a projects of London, and Roebling Hall, which is bringing new work by 2003 Whitney Biennial star Eve Sussman. At Ultra Brag, 55 Südquaistrasse; 49-302/790-7826; www.voltashow.com.

Antiques & Folk Art

While most of the great Impressionist and old master paintings are already locked up in museums, the race is still very much on for collectors of top-tier American antiques and folk art. Significant pieces continue to emerge from genteel homes, weather-worn barns, and long-dormant attics, and it is the thrill of potential discoveries that lures buyers from around the country to New Hampshire each August. Over the course of nine frenetic days, no fewer than six fairs and three days of auctions are packed into what is known as New Hampshire Antiques Week.

The action takes place in and around Manchester, a compact city with a convenient, jewel box–size airport served by several major airlines. (With the picturesque White Mountains and charmingly old-fashioned Lakes Region towns to the north, many collectors add side trips to their stays.) The quality ranges from flea market to first-rate, but everywhere the atmosphere is casual. Shorts and sandals—not suits and heels—are the norm here. Don't be fooled, though: Serious business gets done, as heavy hitters from across the antiques world can be seen buying and selling at any of the week's events. "What's most exciting about it is that there are so many very fine pieces all in one place," says Ronald Bourgeault, owner of Northeast Auctions. "Along with New York in January and Philadelphia in April, it's one of the three most important weeks of the year for Americana buyers."

Northeast Auctions
Kicking off New Hampshire Antiques Week is the high-profile Americana auction staged by Northeast. For three days the Portsmouth, New Hampshire, auction house sets up shop in the Manchester Radisson, where there are always some bidding fireworks. At last summer's record-setting $9.3 million sale, no fewer than 15 deep-pocketed bidders vied for a Cushing & White Goddess of Liberty weathervane that ultimately went for $424,000 to dealer Fred Giampietro of New Haven, Connecticut. Another premier folk dealer, David Wheatcroft of Westborough, Massachusetts, snapped up a circa 1910 John Scholl sculpture, The Wedding, for $193,000, along with a Sheraton painted step-back dressing table for $121,500. This summer's sale, being held August 4 to 6, is highlighted by the esteemed collection of folk art, painted furniture, and decorative arts assembled by Raymond and Susan Egan of Princeton, New Jersey. At Radisson Center, 700 Elm St., Manchester; 603-433-8400; www.northeastauctions.com.

New Hampshire Antiques Show
Now in its 49th year, this show is the spark that ignited New Hampshire Antiques Week and is the center around which all the other events revolve. Upscale and unpretentiously elegant, the buoyant three-day fair—August 10 to 12 this year—is organized by the New Hampshire Antiques Dealers Association (NHADA). All 65 exhibitors are members of the group, which is known for its selective admission policy. On the morning of opening day, a serpentine queue forms in the Radisson's corridor with early birds hoping to score choice pieces from dealers such as Barbara Pollack, who last year sold a circa-1826 Sheldon Peck portrait; Nathan Liverant & Son, furniture specialists from Colchester, Connecticut, who did not disappoint with a spectacular Chippendale cherry slant-front desk of home-state origin; and Wayne Pratt of Woodbury, Connecticut, who parted with a bespoke 18th-century block-front chest of drawers for a six-figure price. At Radisson Center, 700 Elm St., Manchester; 603-585-9199; www.nhada.org.

Midweek in Manchester Antiques Show
This is where Americana aficionados connect with some of the best dealers in the field who are not members of the NHADA, as well as with members not in the NHADA show. One of the exhibitors at Midweek, August 9 and 10, is Woodbury, Connecticut, dealer David Schorsch, whose booth last year featured a painted wood mascot figure of a giraffe found at a Maine lumber camp, which he sold for around $40,000. David Wheatcroft always showcases numerous folk art gems, such as the circa 1810–20 Pennsylvania painted blanket chest with exaggerated French feet—"one of only two known," the dealer says—which he sold last year for a price in "the tens of thousands." At Quality Inn & Wayfarer Conference Center, 121 S. River Rd., Bedford; 845-876-0616; www.barnstar.com.

The Best of the Rest
Each of the week's other satellite shows has its own flavor. The Start of Manchester (August 8 and 9) is strong in country antiques, while Riverside (August 8 through 10) boasts a geographically diverse roster of dealers who source antiques from all corners. But some Antiques Week devotees say the one-day Bedford Pickers' Market (August 11) is where the best discoveries can be made. Take the Virginia collector who last year reportedly paid a couple hundred dollars for a circa-1820s needlework sampler stitched by a child at an Indian mission school, only to receive an offer of $20,000 for it on the spot—and much more since then. The Start of Manchester Antiques Show: Event Center at C. R. Sparks, 18 Kilton Rd., Bedford; 631-261-4590; www.flamingoshows.com. Riverside Antiques Show: Best Western, 13500 S. Willow St., Manchester; 207-767-3967; www.forbesandturner.com. Bedford Pickers' Market: Quality Inn & Wayfarer Conference Center, 121 S. River Rd., Bedford; 845-876-0616; www.barnstar.com.