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A Great Shopping Experience!

Charlie’s Antiques entrance is off the road a bit, so be looking for it as you pass through Toano.

If you like shopping, you might like Charlie’s Antiques, in Toano, Virginia. If you don’t like shopping, you might LOVE Charlie’s Antiques. My shopping tends to be for raw materials, equipment or tools. I mostly shop online. When I have to appear in person, I’m not shopping, I’m buying… I usually know what I want ahead of time and go to the store and buy it. Done! Christmas throws a monkey wrench into the equation. I always think I’ll get it done ahead of schedule, but I always end up waiting until the last week, mostly because I have a hard time figuring out what to buy for the people on my gift list. Then I start to run out of time, and it’s too late to have online orders shipped, so I usually end up wandering the aisles of stores trying to get ideas right up to the last minute.

Sometimes it helps when people have gift lists, even though it feels like cheating – like having someone give you the answers to a test. This year, I decided to try to get my wife a gift she had on her Christmas list for several years. The only problem was that I had lost the list! What I recalled was that she wanted some “onyx eggs” from this place called Charlie’s Antiques, about an hour away, in Toano, Virginia. I really don’t know why she wanted “onyx eggs,” but I really wanted to make the effort, since this had been on the list for a number of years.

Charlie’s has several bins of marble eggs and spheres

So I loaded Louisa Ferncliff (our dog) into the truck and headed out there two days before Christmas. I didn’t find “onyx” eggs, but they had several thousand “marble” eggs, and I bought 6 or 7 of them. This only took 10 minutes, but I ended up spending over three hours walking around the store and the grounds in amusement and amazement, looking at the mash up of artwork, sculpture and rocks that were for sale.

I suppose rocks are about as antique as you can get, and this place has a huge variety

My visit to Charlie’s was well timed, because I’ve been reading a survey of world art history recently. So my brain was already a big collage of information about different styles and periods in art history when I arrived. I assume the sculptures and yard art at Charlie’s are copies or stylistic imitations. But many of these are made of good materials, and who knows, some may even be good art. The thing that was so much fun was to see all these styles mashed up together and in such quantities. …Six stone buddhas surrounding a bronze porpoise over here…a Mayan god next to a Greek statue over there.

This is your one stop shop for cast metal chickens in quantity and Greek inspired statues.

The outdoor displays can keep you busy for hours

While I could’ve spent all day walking around outside, there are treasures indoors, too. I was particularly impressed with some wood carvings I found inside:

This deeply carved relief was about eight feet long, and while it was not especially impressive for it’s content, I couldn’t help but marvel at the detailing.

This freestanding piece was also impressive for the deep and detailed carving.

When I arrived at Charlie’s Antiques, the owners were sitting on an outdoor bench in the sun, taking a break. I had a chance to speak with them briefly, and they were very welcoming and helpful. They seemed happy doing what they were doing, and apparently have been at it for more than three decades. I asked permission to take pictures, which they freely granted, mentioning that photography classes often come to the site as part of their field work.

With a bright sun and no cloud cover, I didn’t have the best day for photography. In many of these images, I applied high dynamic range and color saturation effects in post processing to a greater degree than I might ordinarily. The subject matter lends itself to the fantastic and surreal, so the heavy use of effects seems appropriate, and helps a lot to overcome the less than ideal lighting of the day.

If you are interested in Charlie’s Antiques, they have a pretty good website: http://www.charliesantiques-va.com/

…and a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Charlies-Antiques/113054155435313

By the way… The marble eggs were well received on Christmas morning, even though I found out that what she really wanted was “jade fruit.” Oh well, I guess I’ll have to head back to Charlie’s soon, probably right before Valentine’s Day.


2 responses

  1. Informative and cute description of a male shopping experience! I’ve been trying to get him there for only 2 decades. Didn’t know they have a website. Hey! I LOVE the metal chickens! I need a gray one. Hint hint.

    December 27, 2011 at 7:59 pm

  2. What a horrid, yet wonderful place. I can hear Dot bent over laughing now. Our local tacky light tour could be greatly improved with some of these objects lit with energy saving led lights and etc. A little bit down the road you can find lions, dragons, and roman stuff actually cut in granite for a stiff price at THE POTTERY.

    Great find!, never heard of it either.

    December 28, 2011 at 9:14 pm

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