‘It’s not a museum,’ say longtime owners Julie and Ron Palladino
One of the most frequently heard comments at Renaissance Antiques in Solvang is, “This is just like a museum.”
The owners, Julie and Ron Palladino, hasten to point out that their business is even better than a museum for five reasons:
— “You’re allowed to take things home with you. They frown upon that in museums.
— “In our showroom, you don’t just look at objects, you become engaged with them. Musical instruments play, clocks chime, pendulums swing, watches tick, surprises abound — and you’re actually encouraged to try on the jewelry.
— “In a museum, you speak in hushed tones. In our showroom, there’s always an air of joy and excitement as people discover items they previously didn’t even know existed. It’s like a party seven days a week.
— “Museums have been closed for the better part of a year now. At Renaissance Antiques you can receive a personalized docent tour seven days a week from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.
— “We don’t charge admission.”
With its thousands of priceless items that include antique clocks, vintage watches, fine furniture, fine art, estate jewelry, Asian antiques, antique lighting and decorative arts, it’s understandable why the business would be mistaken for a museum.
‘We are often asked how we find our antiques. We tell people that having developed a widespread reputation as specialists in our field for more than 45 years, we are not so much finding the antiques these days as much as they’re finding us,” said Mrs. Palladino, who, along with her husband, opened Renaissance Antiques in 1979. They also owned the Solvang Antique Center for 25 years.
Located at 469 First St. in Solvang, Renaissance Antiques is a combination showroom that covers 2,200 square feet and a restoration shop of 1,500 square feet.
The couple’s interest in antiques began with clocks.
“My parents had a small clock collection, and I became fascinated with them as a teenager,” said Mrs Palladino.
“Our first business, HRS Antique Clocks, began as a clock repair shop more than 40 years ago,” said Mr. Palladino. “Since 1974, we’ve expanded our focus considerably, but clocks and music boxes are still our first love. We have one of the largest collections of restored antique clocks and music boxes in the country.”
Among them is the French Animated Musical Painting Clock that was made in 1875 and measures 29 inches high by 11 inches deep.
“This wondrous three-dimensional fully animated painting clock never fails to delight with its action — a windmill spins, a water wheel turns, a blacksmith shoes a horse, boats sail past, and a wedding procession leaves the church beneath the bell tower featuring a clock with chimes — all while a four-tune musical movement plays,” said Mr. Palladino.
Other unique items include a rare French musical automaton and Violano Virtuoso Nickelodeon.
“The automaton was made circa 1875 by Phalibois of Paris, one of the most famous makers of automata. It is the only one of its kind in the world and has survived 145 years in remarkable condition,” said Mrs. Palladino.
“The element of surprise, along with the comical character, makes everyone laugh with delight while he is performing.
“The nickelodeon features a violin and a piano simultaneously playing thousands of songs — from classical and operatic to traditional and contemporary music of every category.”
Prices for the many items range from $10 to $75,000.
The business’ clientele includes people from all over the world, all walks of life and all ages.
“Some don’t have discretionary income, so they make payments on time,” said Mrs.Palladino.
“Some of the wealthiest do, too,” said Mr. Palladino with a chuckle.
The couple are delighted to see a changing demographic with increasing interest in antiques among young people.
“They have great respect for items with a strong intrinsic value rather than merchandise that is designed to be replaced frequently,” said Mr. Palladino.
“We take great pleasure in introducing customers to products they have never seen before,” Mrs. Palladino said. “It doesn’t matter if they are 5 years old or 95, we enjoy exposing them to and educating them about antiques.”