Sylvia Antiques

John Sylvia

Q. You are the only third generation antiques dealer on Nantucket, tell me about the family business?

A. My grandfather frank started the business in 1927, by the 1940'ies he had storefronts on Charles st. In Boston and Edgertown, on the vineyard. He was one of the earliest dealers to market and sell nautical antiques. He also loved American furniture. Both his sons frank and Sam continued in the antique business. Since 1995 i have been in the business full time.

Q. What are the classic "Nantucket antiques" that people look for today?

A. As far as classic Nantucket pieces go, i would say an authentic 19th century lightship basket is still the most desired Nantucket item. Marine related, especially sailor made pieces, have always and will always be popular.

Q. What do you focus on today, how have tastes changed since you started?

A. Tastes will always change but the bottom line is people always want to buy interesting things. I have adopted a little to trends, buying more painted furniture and mid-century American art, but for the most part have stayed true to what i grew up with, Nantucket related items and folk art. If a piece doesn't talk to me, i don't buy it.

Q. You often feature antique furniture with great paint or interesting surface detail, why are you drawn to pieces like this?

A. I have always gravitated towards good lines and original surface, it could be a new England four drawer chest or a one of a kind weathervane with great paint. There is something to be said about an untouched naturally aged antique of any kind. It's just attractive to the eye.

Q. Your background makes you a bit of historian in addition to being an antiques dealer, does history, particularly about Nantucket, interest you?

A. To grow up on Nantucket it's hard not to appreciate its history, going from the whaling days when the island was one of the strongest economies in the world, then nose diving into an isolated 50-60 year depression is a pretty amazing contrast. Being able to read all about the fortunes and misfortunes of island life is quite interesting.