Three years ago at the preview party for the Princeton Fall Antiques and Fine Arts Show, Kevin Wilkes, managing director of Princeton Design Guild, and his girlfriend, Sherry MacLean, CFO of the MacLean Agency in Princeton, were lured to the booth of Johanna Antiques by its dazzling display of 19th century equestrian and vintage jewelry. When MacLean’s back was turned, Wilkes bought her an eternity band with a checkerboard design of rubies and diamonds from the Art Deco era.

Last year, they returned to the show — and to Johanna’s (which is based in Kingsville, MD), where they looked at engagement rings. Again, on the sly, Wilkes bought her one of the rings they had seen — a pretty little number with three diamonds, a total of 3.5 carats (see photo below), once owned by the wife of a State Department career diplomat in the 1950s or ’60s — and formally proposed to MacLean about a month later, on November 11, 2007. And at this year’s show, they visited Johanna’s again, completing the hat trick with the purchase of diamond platinum wedding band, originally from Tiffany’s.

Approximately 350 guests attended the Friday night preview gala on September 26, taking full advantage of their sneak preview of the 20,000 square feet of exhibition space at Princeton Airport. After checking out the vintage Jaguars and Porsches from Sports and Specialist Cars in Hopewell on display outside the exhibition space, they were greeted inside with a glass of champagne and hot hors d’oeuvres from Main Street Caterers (the mini ramekins of lobster bisque were a big hit). Live jazz, courtesy of the New Hope Collective, created a sophisticated ambience as guests perused the 55 antiques and fine art dealers from 14 states and the U.K. The show, which features 18th to 20th century American and European furniture, paintings, textiles, jewelry, clocks, silver, ceramics, vintage posters, prints, vintage automobiles, and more, has grown so rapidly over the past three years it now has a waiting list for dealers trying to get in.

The proceeds benefit the Historical Society of Princeton’s educational programming for school children and families, exhibitions, and collections care. Barbara Webb, events and membership manager for the Historical Society, says, “Shows like this don’t sprout up anymore. We have a long waiting list for dealers and the show is filled by early spring. Many of our dealers refer to it as their favorite show. We give a lot of attention to creating the right mix of dealers.”

Over the weekend of September 28 and 28, 1,000 visitors came to the show, which earned approximately $240,000 for the Historical Society.

P.S. Everyone loved the big bowls of crisp MacIntosh apples as they left the show — event planners take note.

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