Introducing Our Dealers: ADAM IRISH

What is the first piece you ever purchased?

It was a $7 joint venture with my grandmother at an estate sale –a gray-painted Victorian faux-bamboo rocker with a broken support. We refinished and repaired it, and to this day it remains one of my favorite finds.

Describe your collection in three words.

Quirky. Thoughtful. Droll.

Who would your quintessential customer be, living or dead?

Let's make it two: P.G. Wodehouse and Gabriel García Márquez. Wodehouse covers the amusing accoutrements of highbrow absurdity - the comforts and pleasures of, say, the billiards room or croquet pitch. Márquez captures     something else entirely: the wonder of serendipity, the purity of humble pursuits, the spectacularly beautiful cloaked in the commonplace. They are both united in candor and humor. Whether they'd actually buy anything, I couldn’t say.

What inspired you to become a dealer?

I've been in the trade in one way or another since I was a kid, but the transition to full time began to occur when I realized I'd much rather go to the auction house down the block at lunch hour rather than study for the LSAT with my coworkers. In the end, it wasn't a hard decision to make.

What’s your best trade secret?

Buy what you like.

Do you believe televisions should be exposed or hidden?

Hidden. In fact, hidden so well that they are never found. So many of the objects I delight in could never be today. Take a piece I recently sold: a World War I-era wooden [toy] battleship with 12 firing guns, complete with clothespin crew. The television and the Internet have ransacked the amateur creative landscape, which I think is an artistic and cultural tragedy. The wonderful father who built the battleship for his son would likely be watching CNN today instead of puttering around the workshop to pass the time.

Last place traveled to, and next on the itinerary?

Syracuse, New York. The next, hopefully, will be someplace equally frigid: St. Petersburg. In college I studied abroad there and I hope to return to the wonderful markets. I'm fascinated by Russia’s material past: the historical Tsarist and Soviet contradictions and facades are reified in complex objects and hilarious kitsch.

What’s your favorite area in your home?

The library, that is, the half of the room allotted to my books --Victorian bookcases, Eastlake armchair, piles of teetering volumes. I favor comfortable chaos.

Anything you couldn't bear to part with?

Years ago when I was first attending auctions I purchased a box lot of old board games. In a 1930s Monopoly box, I noticed that the dice looked much older, apparently made of ivory or bone. On closer examination, I found that one bore the mark of a crown and the letters GR, signifying compliance with the Stamp Act of 1765. Through perhaps hundreds of hands, the dice had rolled through American history. Although not worth a great deal, they reflect the serendipitous beauty and imaginative potency I seek in my collections.


Discover Old As Adam.



  1. userpic
    You sound like a wonderful dealer, I live in Laguna Beach California, always on the hunt for great antiques. I only buy what I love!!! Best, Christine Dwight

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