Ever walk by a place a million times and not realize it’s there? Me, too.
So I was more than pleasantly surprised recently to see – and actually finally walk into – the Armory Antique Marketplace on Thames Street in Newport, an absolutely glorious treasure trove of all-things old, and most of them nautical.
The marketplace represents more than 70 antique dealers, showing their wares in a space historic in itself: The Armory functioned as just that from 1894 until the 1980s, and has been an antique showcase since 1994. In a sprawling, nicely laid-out 6,000-square-foot space, you’ll find more than 100,000 times, grand and tiny, and at least 3,000 of them of nautical design, befitting the City by the Sea and its immense maritime past.
The items run a gamut for all tastes, from jewelry to duck decoys to crystal ware to a giant brass telescope and towering weather vanes. There is fine art, sculptures, porcelain, pottery, silver, books, and vintage clothing. It’s a lovely eclectic mix of things, including Chinese Qilin carvings, African art and figures, There is the occasional fun new stuff; Mapisart has a booth here, a Newport company where you can make your map into décor or apparel. On the day we visited, vintage World War II music was being piped in from above, lending even more of an historical ambience.
The demand for antiques led to opening a second location, Newport Bridge Antiques, over on the J.R. Connell Highway. You can also visit www.armoryantiquesnewport.com to sign up for its newsletter and get updates, notifications and discounts – or bid for items at the company’s eBay site.
A good option, but one that might just take the fun out of actual browsing in a place you may have not known even existed.
Photos by Paul E. Kandarian