THE MIAMI HERALD
BOOTY FROM THE PAST....
SLEIGH BELLS, EVEN SHIPS' WHEELS
ON THE RIVER
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'
lanterns and portholes and anchors, not to mention sleigh
bells and carriages.
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
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
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
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
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.
not a bar of gold. It's a bar of lead painted
Another of his favorite stories goes like
"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
"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
of the original Menneelleys. I didn't want to
break up the set. In fact, I didn't want to sell them
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
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
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'
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
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
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."