On weekdays, the cafeteria tables and benches at PS 87 are filled with kids eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. But on Sundays, when the Greenflea pitches its tents outside, the cafeteria tables become an antiques market, laden with vintage treasures.
Glittering in a corner of the cafeteria in aisle 4 is the antique silver collection from Slope Antiques. Proprietors Susan and Richard Kurtzman lay out a fine collection of urns, trays, serving items, baby items, and other objects. I first met them while writing Markets of New York City; a photo of a Gorham and Co. mesh bag is on page 47. Their collection of vintage Tiffany silver makes me quiver. And I am in love with their sugar spoons and tea service items.
This past Sunday, Mr. Kurtzman showed me one of his personal favorite pieces, a silver locomotive smoking caddy. Handmade in Germany circa 1860, this detailed, lovely piece has both artistic and practical and features. If you look at the photo, the little rings around the outside hold up to a dozen cigarettes for your guests to select from. The two larger pots in the center of the locomotive hold wooden matches, which can be lit by striking them along the wheels at the back. Alternatively, right in front of the miniature engineer is a tiny lamp with a wick that can be lit to fire up a cigarette, or even for ambiance. Mr. Kurtzman believes there used to be a blue glass plume of smoke coming out of the chimney, but it probably came off as this amazing piece of art and craftsmanship traveled through the past 150 years.
You really must go see this piece for yourself, including the tiny rivets, the axles, and the engineer at the back, with his jaunty hat and mustache. Slope Antiques is at the Greenflea every Sunday. Let me know if you would like to contact them directly, and I will make the introduction.