A man’s interests can be varied.
And sometimes the more varied those interests are, the more intriguing he becomes.
Apply that same thinking to a shop that caters to men and their passions and you’re in for a treat when considering Mantiques Modern.
The Manhattan gallery is jam-packed with a wildly eclectic mix of antiques and collectibles that appeals to a broad range of traditionally male interests.
“That’s our specialty – our breadth,” says gallery manager Cole Ramstad. “There’s definitely not anybody in the United States that buys in as many categories.”
He estimates those categories range from 600 to 700, and “What we buy is basically what we like.”
The “we” includes the shop’s owners – Kenny Felberbaum, Cory Margolis and Steven Perelman – and what they like includes everything from antique and vintage barware to luxury-brand travel pieces, from mantel clocks to kinetic sculpture, from sporting trophies to quirky advertising pieces and from sleek furniture to just about anything that’s encased in Lucite.
Indeed, the artfully cluttered shop features an eye-catching 3-D Lucite square filled with palm-sized car models.
“We love things in Lucite as you can see, and we love Ferraris because we’re dudes,” Ramstad says with a laugh.
Something for every man
Mantiques Modern got its start in the 1970s. Back then, Margolis was a picker, a source of items, for the shop. He went on to buy the business and has expanded it ever since. Its latest incarnation, on West 22nd Street, is quietly tucked behind a sleek façade that doesn’t quite convey the treasures within some 4,500 square feet.
It’s an inventory that’s ever-changing, Ramstad says, which adds to the fun. “Literally, we get stuff in every single day.”
On a recent morning, it was finds they uncovered on a buying trip to the famed antiques market in Brimfield, Mass. Other days, it’s items arriving from purchases made at flea markets, auctions and estate sales around the world or even walk-ins.
But no matter what it is, those at Mantiques Modern can tell you something, if not everything, about it.
“The name of the game in the antiques business is knowledge,” Ramstad says.
And he’s got plenty of details on most everything in Mantiques’ inventory, which has an incredibly strong sense of design threading through it. It’s a big part of what makes it appeal to its primary audience, interior designers and other dealers.
“The majority of our business is done with people in the trade,” Ramstad says, pointing to an oversize model of a training gun. “Imagine you’re an interior designer, where do you get that? You need that final touch, that piece to put over the mantel in a hedge-fund guy’s apartment.”
But Mantiques Modern is also a destination for collectors who like nothing more than spending a quiet hour or two exploring the two floors of finds.
The gallery is almost a secret source, though Ramstad confirms Mantiques Modern has clients from both Westchester and Fairfield. The owners, he added, also have ties to the area. One is a former Scarsdale resident, while all have countless friends and family living here.
The shop is the place where you can easily stumble upon a rare 1928 Meriden cocktail shaker in the form of a lighthouse or an Art Deco Gucci ashtray, a floral shape where each petal comes apart to create a personal space to park your cigarette.
“A lot of these companies, they made these incredible objets de vertu,” Ramstad says of the many pieces in metals.
Then, there are oversize magnifying glasses and World War II field desks, polished to a gleaming new look.
“Once it’s polished, it takes on a whole new life,” he says, adding that the choice of restoring is often left to the potential buyer.
Travel cases, from trunks to suitcases to duffels, are another popular segment.
“Vintage Gucci and Hermès are always strong for us,” he says.
A glance across the collection shows there are themes that continue to appear.
“We like cars. We like sports. We like girls,” Ramstad says.
One of a kind
And they definitely like quirky, exemplified by the one-of-a-kind chair made from 1920s propellers created by Rolls-Royce.
“You’ll never see another one like it in your life,” he says, explaining it was commissioned for an aircraft club. “We had to step up and buy it.”
There’s the occasional decoupage pinup piece and plenty of flasks and wine openers, canes and globes, intricate watercolors and bold contemporary paintings, such as those scored at the auction of Dennis Hopper’s art collection.
A foam coat rack in the shape of a cactus, a Guido Drocco creation from 1960s Italy, stands amid it all. Clearly, there’s an artistic sensibility on hand, but one that welcomes the unusual.
“There are a lot of shops that are very stuffy,” Ramstad says. “You feel very nervous.”
But not at Mantiques Modern.
“It’s a junk shop that’s full of winners,” he says.
Those winners go on to also include a Jacques Adnet black Deco rocking chair, a 19th-century carnival wheel and a Clemente Spampinato maquette for a bronze of Bobby Jones that stands outside the PGA Hall of Fame. There are elegant shagreen boxes and an intricate old safe; a Margaret Bourke-White photograph of a zeppelin, framed within a duralumin frame (the same material as the object pictured); and a movie camera that looks like something used for a silent film. A closer look, though, proves it is actually wooden and an advertisting item: “Mitchell was like the Rolls-Royce of cameras,” Ramstad says.
Favorite pieces of Ramstad’s are the 1960s puzzle sculptures from Spanish artist Miguel Berrocal, intricate creations in bronze and nickel.
“He was a big deal, very inspired by Picasso.”
But sometimes the unheralded is equally attractive, such as a piece that spells out the word ‘love.’
“These ‘love’ motorcycle chains are completely anonymous. We don’t know who made them. We don’t care. We just buy what speaks to us.”
No matter the size.
“We like giant things here, that’s for sure,” Ramstad continues. “We like miniatures. We like weird stuff.”
Not surprisingly, Ramstad shares that the shop has had offers to replicate and mass-produce their distinctive finds.
“That’s where the big money is at, moving units, units, units. We’re not about that.”
Instead, they prefer to deal in the original work.
“We find a lot of cool objects and put them on a stand, and all of a sudden, they’re sculpture,” he says, pointing out examples ranging from a collection of wooden family crests to some flat metal pieces that depict automobile or airplane themes.
Throughout, prices start at $75 and reach up to about $35,000.
While Ramstad says, “The market’s softer than it’s ever been,” he notes, “Our business is better than it’s ever been.”
At Mantiques Modern, it’s easy to see why.
For more information on Mantiques Modern, at 146 W. 22nd St. in Manhattan, call (212) 206-1494 or visit mantiquesmodern.com.