The Outer Banks–a string of
barrier islands hugging the coast of North Carolina–embrace a history of
piracy, bold rescues, tragic losses, and firsts. It was here that Sir Walter
Raleigh stepped ashore to found the first colony in the New World on Roanoke
Island in 1585. It was here that Virginia Dare, the first child of English
parents, was born. It was also here that the Wright Brothers took to the air
for the first time in 1903. And it was here that I discovered a antique
Today, the Outer Banks are a bastion of fun in the sun. All along their
175 miles from the Virginia border to Shackleford Banks opposite Beaufort,
North Carolina, nearly six million visitors per
year swim, surf, sunbathe, fish, and birdwatch on sunny days. But when the
sun doesn’t shine–and that can happen often as storms move over the
Banks–visitors turn from outdoor activities to what else–shopping. Along
with the increase in the number of shops in general, the number of antique
shops has mushroomed in the last year or so. I found enough antique shops to
provide two full days of antiquing.
But on the Outer Banks, the word "antiques" is used in its
broadest sense. The shops offer an eclectic mix of the not-so-old with older
pieces. Many items for sale are small enough for vacationers to pack into
their cars for the trip home, since the majority of visitors to the Banks
come by car. Also, many of the shops sell some new items to help balance the
bottom line. But the fine Southern hospitality of the shopkeepers plus the
reasonable prices makes the antiquing experience here a pleasure.
Most of the antique malls and larger shops are located on the mainland along
Highway 158–known as Antique Alley--beginning in Grandy. This is the road
everyone has to take to drive onto the Banks from Virginia, so I decided to
begin my antique adventure here.
The Currituck Antique Mall, the first mall visitors see, features Turner’s
Antiques plus four other dealers selling oak furniture, old books, jewelry,
decoys and old glassware–Carnival, Depression, and pressed. But owner Jim
Turner said they sell more Carolina pottery--Roseville,
Hull, Weller and McCoy, plus some stoneware--than anything else.
"We sell one antique to every 20 collectibles," he said. A glass
carafe and six glasses from the 1930s was selling for $98. While not one of
the oldest, the Currituck Mall has been in business for five years.
Next down the road is the Antique Mall at Powell’s Point. Owners Ozzie
and Lisa Godfrey began their business, Winsor Antiques, down on the Banks
but eventually moved it into a big white farmhouse with green shutters. Now
the Godfrey’s have six dealers with them, offering a variety of antiques
from primitives to elegant armoires to collectibles from the 50s and 60s.
Godfrey prices her furniture from $100 to over $1,600.
Across the road stands Oldies But Goodies. Here, I found a good
collection of old quilts, advertising, glassware, toys and auto-memorabilia.
For those looking for an old gas station pump to spruce up their yard, this
is the place. David Powers, who shop sits while his wife (who really owns
the shop) works at a local bank, said he often sells old pumps and station
signs which people use as yard markers.
And next to Oldies But Goodies is Side Street Antiques run by Don
Belangia and his wife. Browsing here took some time, since I found a
generous selection of toys, old advertising signs, local pottery, furniture
and old wrought iron lawn pieces. But I was most impressed with the unique
lamps such as an artist-signed stained glass floor model for $795.
Stained glass lovers will simply adore Lammers Stained Glass, Gifts and
Antiques. Only a stone’s throw from Side Street Antiques, this complex
offers handcrafted old and new stained glass
windows and lamps, as well as nautical antiques, vintage kitchenware, old
fishing tackle, items from the 1950s, original advertising signs. In
business for 27 years, Lammers is one of the oldest shops in the area. A new
5,000-square-foot furniture gallery houses hoosiers, washstands, and fine
English glass panels for as much as $2,000, painted museum-quality glass
lamps and accent lamps for $55.
New for this year is Lammers’ "Roadside Memories," a vintage
advertising museum which displays Jim and Terry Lammers’ 25-year personal
collection of the finest examples of antique
signage including soda pop, country store, gas station, and automobilia from
the golden age of touring. These vanishing relics which once dotted North
Carolina’s back roads immediately took me back to simpler times. (Open
10-6 daily. Adm: adults. $3, teens $2, and children under 12, $1).
Before I headed over the bridge to Kitty Hawk, I stopped in the Bayberry
Antique Mall, a small, well organized and laid out grouping of 10
dealers run by Charlene and Terry Shillingsford. Open since December, 1997,
I discovered a variety of dishes and small collectibles. But what caught my
eye was a large scale that told fortunes, like the
kind found at beach resorts and amusements parks, selling for $1,200.
Another dealer had a Trafalgar wash bowl dating from 1850 for $45. A Blue
Willow hatpin holder selling for $25 complimented the many old hats hanging
around. I especially liked the Jenny Lind bed that a dealer in the back room
was selling for $350. The strangest items for sale had to be a 30-year
collection of sugar packets, each selling for 25 cents.
Over the Bridge to Kitty Hawk
After browsing a bit at Bayberry, I headed across the bridge to the new
Visitor’s Center. Built to resemble an old lifesaving station, it features
a comprehensive exhibit of life on the Banks with a introductory video, plus
a separate octagonal building where I found hundreds of brochures on the
area. There were even North Carolina rocking chairs out on the porch.
Continuing down Highway 158 in Kitty Hawk, I came first to the Seagate
North Shopping Center, the home of three antique shops. The
Nostalgia Gallery features a world of old advertising, art calendars,
documents, prints, newspapers, sheet music, stock certificates, signs,
aviation art , Chessie documents, Civil War discharge papers and more, Coca
Cola ads and signs, Disneyana, military, pin-ups, politics, radio, railroad
signs, tobacco ads, World War II posters, sports memorabilia–even Santa
advertising. This place is an absolute must for the advertising collector.
Proprietor Norm Martinus, the co-author of Warman’s Paper, a
pricing guide to vintage paper collectibles, loves to chat about them.
A few doors away stands the Impoverished
Aristocrat, a small eclectic shop filled with knickknacks and whatnots.
Besides a good selection of old plates and teas sets selling for $12 to $25,
there’s a selection of gourmet teas for sale, as well as ice tea samples
I almost didn’t go into Z-1 Gold N Gifts but
then noticed a fine Victorian armless caned rocker priced at $115 sitting
out front. Inside, Kristen Voorhees and Thierry Cattelain offered a modest
selection of antique silver and silver plate, along with imported Indonesian
Cattelain is proud of the outdoor flea market he established in the
Seagate Center on all three-day weekends during the summer.
Down the road a short distance is Second Hand
Rose, a tiny shop overflowing with all sorts of collectibles, mostly from
the 20s and 30s, and some antiques on consignment near to where the Wright
Brothers made their first flight in Kill Devil Hills. For the last eight
years, owner Paula Douglass has amassed a fine collection of estate jewelry,
knickknacks, old books and records. There’s also one room exclusively for
Further along, I came across a sign that said "Flea Market." I
couldn’t resist. It turned out to be misleading, but I did find Edith's
Antiques and Art. Artist Edith Deltgen not only showcases her own sculptures
but offers small antique tables and china, as well as German chocolate in
her small shop in Central Square in Nags Head.
Two doors up in the same center, I wandered into Mile Post Antiques, an
antique cooperative less than a month old. Five dealers display a variety of
excellent antique seashore furniture, wicker, prints, lots of pottery,
estate jewelry, some small antique furniture and linens.
Original Harper's Weekly’s were going for $28 each. I also found some
old gun shells. But I couldn’t take my eyes off of a beautifully
carved oak mantlepiece selling for $1,200.
Crossing over a side street lined with art galleries, known as Gallery
Row, I headed down the Beach Road to the Yellowhouse Gallery run by John
Sandberg. Here I gazed at old maps and nautical charts of the Outer Banks.
Sandberg’s first wife was a watercolorist, so they set up a gallery on the
oceanfront in1969. Someone sold them a carful of antique marine prints,
which sold faster than the original art. In 1977, he moved into his present
location. I saw a finely detailed framed chart of Hatteras Island from1852
selling for $355.
Having exhausted antiquing possibilities in Nags Head, I headed over the
causeway to Manteo on Roanoke Island. Long a quiet little town, Manteo is
awakening to its own kind of tourism–quiet and cozy and full of Southern
hospitality. Three shops just off the waterfront in Manteo caught my eye.
The first, Clemons-on-Budleigh, sounded unusual.
Run by Elizabeth Anderson and her assistant Gloria Abbs and open less
than a year, this cozy shop fills an old house in a residential neighborhood
three blocks from the waterfront. A chintzy mix of fine old English
furniture with wicker, kitchen ware, books and dolls, the highlight here was
an Elizabethan oak bar selling for $1,200 now being used as the sales desk.
But prices were as low as one dollar on some items. I noticed an antique
English walnut architect's table for $295 and an early Roanoke framed deed
for $87. Abbs plans to open a potting shed with gardening antiques. The
White Doe, one of several antique-filled inns, stands just a block away.
As I strolled down Sir Walter Raleigh Street across from the waterfront,
I stumbled on Ann Gullett’s My Secret Garden, a shop jam-packed with
hand-painted furniture, a collection of birdhouses, intriguing old
fountains, garden statuary and other gardening antiques mixed with
reproduction Tiffany-style lamps and sterling jewelry.
Around the corner, across from the Tranquil House Inn, with one of the
best restaurants in the area, I discovered Muzzie’s Antiques, a fun shop
that I felt is one of the best. Susan Garber has filled her petite shop with
lots of small quality items, including enameled glassware, individual
dishes, beautiful old porcelain eggs, dolls and dolls’ clothes, ladies’
compacts and dressing accessories. A Nippon demitasse set of four cups was
selling for $49, while a Toby Mug pitcher was $62.
And last, but by far from least, there’s the Thieves Antique Market and
Auction Barn in Mann’s Harbor, along Rt. 643 just over the bridge from
where the outdoor pageant, "The Lost Colony," is performed. To say
this place has a lot of stuff is an understatement. Old newspapers, magazine
and books, shells, rocks, crystal, display cases full of small items--old
perfume bottles, buttons, this giant what-not shop overflows with oddities
of all sorts. However, compared to the other shops here, I found prices to
be high for what was offered. For instance, a small book with photos of the
Spanish American War was priced at $65. But there’s always the fun of