Robert Bahssin

Robert Bahssin

(1928 - 2014)

With a very heavy heart I have to report the passing of my father, Bob Bahssin, who died on May 27th, after a short, but cruel fight with lung cancer. He was a great father, friend and business leader. He loved antiques and art, sports, the thrill of the chase but most of all he loved family and friends. There is a quote which says "choose a job you love and you will never work a day in your life." I'm not sure that is completely true, but I can say there was nothing my father would rather do than make the next great find and sit and enjoy that object in his store.

Robert was born in New York City in 1928 into the antiques trade. His father, Adolph, was an antique and curiosities dealer who ran shops in various locations in the Bronx and Yonkers. As a child, Robert would accompany his father carrying packages as they went on buying trips up and down the 2nd Avenue elevated subway, stopping off at various second hand stores between the Bronx and the Bowery.

Robert's summers were spent in Lake Mohegan, NY, just east of Peekskill. Robert's sister Lucy had rickets as a child and doctors thought it best she leave the city in the summers for the fresh air of the country. Adolph was able to purchase a modest country cabin there. Robert as a teen worked as a lifeguard on the lake, and it was there that he developed his love of the outdoors and the water.


At the outbreak of the Korean War, Robert entered the Armed Services serving as a sergeant in the 224 Infantry Regiment. After serving for two years, he returned to New York and the antiques trade. In the early 1950’s antiquing was becoming popular. For people from New York City, the most common country antiques route was Route 1 north to Connecticut to Route 7 and north again from there. Robert thought to move the business to the Post Road in Larchmont, making it one of the first stops for customers on the trip out of town. After this move, and due to his father’s failing health, Robert took over the business and named his shop Post Road Antiques. After 62 years his gallery is still on the same block in Larchmont.

In 1960, on a ski trip upstate, Robert met Judy Grossman. She looked like Audrey Hepburn and she could keep up with the boys on the slopes. Four months later, they were married and remained that way for 54 years.

The antiques trade is an industry of individuals. Every shop and gallery takes on the character of its owner. Every shop has it's stories of the great and unusual things that come through the door. Here's a bit of the tales my dad used to tell. Soon after my father was married my father got a call to see some bronzes on Long Island. Accompanied by his wife, Robert went on the call where there were also four paintings by Alfred Jacob Miller of Indians hunting buffalo on the plains. I'm not really sure if my father knew who Miller was but he recognized the quality and the subject matter and bought the four paintings for $2,500. That was probably about $2,200. more than the young newlyweds had in their combined savings. Supposedly, my mother cried all the way home. The deal turned out quite well. Robert sold the four paintings immediately to Kennedy Galleries for a handsome profit.

It was that deal that put Robert over the top a bit and allowed him to deal in better things. The 60's were a period in the antiques trade when wonderful things could be found and bought for the right price. Post Road Antiques was small and crowed but had Tiffany glass, fine paintings, good American empire-period furniture and fine sculpture. Robert was eclectic and bought things he loved. As a child I remember once asking the question "Dad, What's the best thing in the shop?" My father always hated that question but when it came from his son who was just eight years old it was OK. My father pointed to a John La Farge fire screen that resided over the bronze cabinet. It was an object he bought, sold, and repurchased. The second time out he sold the screen to Walter Chrysler for the Chrysler Museum. The screen is still on display at the Chrysler. Visiting it brought back old childhood memeories for me. Also at the Chrysler is and Incredible Gilt Silver, Paul Storr Trophy made for the Charleston Races in 1818. I've forgotten how my dad found that piece. It is classical in design but has a stars and stripes motif engraved into the lid and is surmounted by an American Eagle. I can hear my dad say, "Go find another one!"

Sculpture was always a focus for Robert. I don't remember the story of how it came or went, but there is a wonderful picture of me with my younger sister, Jennifer, posing behind a Frederic Remington bronze of "The Scalp". The bronze made a good prop to photograph young children with. Today we think a bit more of it. In the back of our store is a work table that we have used for years. In that table is a drawer with a group photographs of taken by my father of bronzes he had in his store. In this group there are images of a Shrady moose and buffalo, a Bela Pratt "Nathan Hale," "Appeal to the Great Spirit" by Cyrus Dallin and "Jungle Football" by Carl Akeley. I was always impressed by this group of photos. A few years ago I said to my father. "Gee Dad, Look at all this great stuff you had." His response was, "Yeah, and I had them all on one day!"

In 1972, the building next to my father's shop became available. Robert moved next door and renamed it his business Post Road Gallery. Every decade of operation has fond memories of wonderful items and the stories that they each held. Antiques should always have a story. Antiques are objects that bespeak a period. Some are more historically significant than others and some are more beautiful, but all antiques should say something about the time in which they were made, the people that created them and the people that lived with them. Sometimes the crazy way you find antiques, or the way they find you, adds to their allure.

As much as my father was consumed with antiques, he was close with his family. Running the shop and hunting for antiques is something we all did together. We went on vacations but vacations were often sidetracked by antique shops and shows. Ski trips were often made a little longer by frequent stops at antiques shops. As he said he was always looing for a way to "make expenses" on our vacations. He was always looking for the next great find and researching to see if his hunches about things were correct. The last show we did together was after he was diagnosed with cancer. He was still working with clients and talking to dealers looking to get a feel for the pulse of the market. There was nothing he'd rather do. Dad declined quickly at the end. Even as he was fading he came into the store up until the last two weeks of his life. The shop was his home away from home. Dad, you are sorely missed.

David Bahssin

Robert is survived by his wife Judith, son David, daughter Jennifer, an antique dealer in Florida, sister Lucy, daughter-in-law Claudia, grandchildren William and Shauna and several nieces and nephews.

 


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Post Road Gallery / 2128 Boston Post Road / Larchmont, NY, 10538 USA
Tel: (914) 834-7568 Fax: (914) 834-9245