LYDIA MARTIN Herald Staff Writer

In a rustic, weathered, shanty-like storefront on the Miami
River, Milton Stone deals in the past.
He is lord over 10,000 square feet of old ships' wheels and
lanterns and portholes and anchors, not to mention sleigh
bells and carriages.

Stone's antique shop is an unorganized, rambling museum of
nautical and landlubber relics.

To see everything, you have to weave through a dimly lighted
maze of polished brass, teak and bronze. To find what you
want, you have to search in earnest, because things lay piled
one on top of another or hang from crowded rafters.

Stone Age Antiques, at 3260 NW South River Dr., is a feast for
the eyes. The store's three rooms are like a huge treasure
chest filled with the booty of the past.

For 25 years, Stone, 76, has bought and sold antiques that he
says appeal more to men than women. There are model ships and
working scaled-down steam locomotives and bamboo fishing rods
that date to the turn of the century. There are train bells
and copper and brass diving helmets and swords and cannons.

A pair of polar bears, their jaws wide open, the male
stretching 12 feet, greets you at the door. They were shot in
1920, Stone said. The pair sells for $12,000.

"I can tell you stories. You get a lot of stories in 25
years," said Stone from behind his beat-up desk, a throne from
which he rarely moves.

"You see this, looks like a bar of gold right? A guy comes in
here one day and says 'Is that gold?' I say, 'Of course,
that's gold.' He asks, 'How much?' and I pick a number out of
my head. I say $87,000. He handles it a few times and says:
'Can you do a little better?' You get people like that all the
time," said Stone, who lives in South Miami.

Besides, it's not a bar of gold. It's a bar of lead painted

Another of his favorite stories goes like this:

"I'm a bell collector. The best bells ever made in this
country were made by the Menneelley family from Troy, N.Y.
After World War II, I bought a peal of bells from a theater in
Little River," Stone said.

"One day a woman comes in with three kids, filthy kids with
their noses running and what not. She says she heard I had
just bought those bells and wanted to buy one. She was a
granddaughter of the original Menneelleys. I didn't want to
break up the set. In fact, I didn't want to sell them either."

But the woman was persuasive, and Stone broke down and gave up
one of the bells.

There are 50 train bells for sale at Stone Age Antiques.

"We have train bells from the Union Pacific Railroad, the
Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe."

The bells date from 1870 to 1940. They sell from $900 to

The store does a lot of business with movie and television
show production companies, said Gary Stone, Milton Stone's
oldest son and business partner.

"People from Miami Vice and movies come in here all the time
to rent things. They rent fans and old cash registers and
other things they might need to represent a particular time,"
said Gary, 35.

Stone Age rents items for 15 percent of their selling price.

The newest rental receipt is for Warner Brothers' Police
Academy Five, which is being filmed in South Florida.

Its staff took a snapper mounted on a plaque, a ship's
compass, a stuffed duck, beer steins and other bric-a-brac.
The total rental fee was $1,500.

"Mr. Stone has a fabulous place. It's the greatest prop house
around. There's nothing like it, not in New York or L.A. or
anywhere," said Don Ivey, set decorator for Police Academy
Five. "He carries anything you could need and if he doesn't
have it he would have a handle on where you could get it."

Ivey said he first started shopping at Stone Age Antiques in
the 1960s when he was set decorator for the Flipper television

"He has a lot of nautical-type things that worked out really
well," said Ivey, who lives in North Miami. Two years ago, the
elder Stone bought 450 anchors made during World War II by the
United States. The anchors were shipped to Norway to fool the
enemy about where the U.S. invasion was coming from, Stone

There are only 150 of the 130-pound anchors left in the store,
he said. They sell for $150.

"We do pretty good business," Gary Stone said. "We're far away
from the beaten track. People have to hunt us up to come here.
We like that because that means they're coming to buy. We
don't get many tire- kickers."


Image of main.gif