Meet Your Merchant: Abell House Antiques
March 11, 2012
The story of Abell House Antiques is the story of serendipity.
Serendipity brought Lynne and Bob Peterson to the century-old building at the corner of North Curry and West John streets, and serendipity brings many of the store’s wares to inside its walls.
“It’s still exciting, still very exciting,” Lynne Peterson said after 17 years in the business. “It’s the thrill of the hunt, I guess, that drives us.”
She and her husband were collectors of rare items and antiques before deciding to take the next step – “a natural progression,” she said. And when they were ready, so was the historic house.
Now, it’s filled to the brim with all sorts of items: Old-time sugar “nips” used to crush, chop and pick up chunks of sugar, green-tinted “Vaseline glass” that was a collector’s rage a few years back, a goblet-style coconut cup trimmed in silver that’s survived since 1790, and much more. The owners say they are probably the most proud of items dating to the birth of the United States. And those items are also the best examples of the types of antiques for which they hunt.
“Definitely not run of the mill,” Peterson said when describing what items she seeks. “We try to pick up special items that are very interesting.”
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Many of their wares are older than 100 years – a mark of quality unto itself and somewhat of a marketing angle for Peterson. She decried the modern consumption culture, saying that many younger people tend to use something until it dies, throw it in the trash, and get another one.
“I’d personally much rather own an antique piece of furniture than a new piece of furniture,” she said. “The quality of craftsmanship is usually so much higher.”
It was a selling point for Tom White, a recent Carson City convert. He moved to the area in 2008 from San Francisco and wanted to start over furnishing his house. In his hunt for Victorian-era items, he came across the Abell House.
“(The Petersons) had, to me, what was the best selection,” White said, adding later, “The quality of furniture I got from them probably would have been double or triple the price (in the Bay Area).”
Now when he goes in, he says, the Petersons will point him toward items they think he would enjoy, often with startling accuracy. He particularly praised Lynne’s eye for design.
“It was almost a throwback to a different era because they are very friendly, almost folksy,” he said, quick to add that that’s not a pejorative but rather a revelation for someone used to greeting hellos on the street with big-city suspicion.