An Afternoon at Trimble's Tavern Antiques with Chris and his 'Witnesses of History'

Chris Trimble
Trimble's Tavern

Colonial Shoe Buckles, a pewter pap boat
and riding spurs
To spend a few hours shopping at Trimble's Tavern is an extraordinary privilege. And if you chance to engage Chris Trimble, two things become immediately evident. Firstly, you are speaking with one of the most expert pair of eyes in the mid-Atlantic antiques business and secondly, you have come to a place that has been overtaken by an extreme passion for history. From the imposing and rare large scale furniture pieces to the smallest coin, everything here exudes a past-- and when he's able to avail himself (only because he is in such high demand), Chris Trimble will be your guide. His formal education and a lifetime of scholarly study of colonial American history is instantly accessed as he recalls the stories of how he acquired a piece and why it's so important.

You will find his shop just as you enter the small town of White Stone, VA in the Tidewater region that centers around the Chesapeake Bay and the Rappahannock River. It's a delightful area whose culture and environs remain much as they always have-- small town charm with a few good restaurants and salt of the earth folks who seem to take things just a bit slower than the city folks who surround me. When you are in Kilmarnock, time seems to be on your side and it thus presents a great location to spend a summer weekend, hitting the antique stores and swimming in the mild sandy waters. And if you don't come the week of Brimfield, you're pretty likely to find Chris in his shop.

Chris seems at ease with all people and is as gracious as he is knowledgeable. In between stories he will purse his pipe stem between his lips and take a few draws before launching into a tale. I asked him about his philosophy regarding antiques and his eyes began to gleam. "These are the witnesses to history!" he exclaimed. 

Only a Philistine could leave this building and learn nothing. You won't see a collection of colonial antiques as fine as his in all of Washington, DC or even in the entire state of Virginia. Need a signature of Alexander Hamilton? Yes, he has that in stock. Indian trade beads? Which color would you like? Are you searching for military relics? He has them in spades, and now more than ever now that he is pursuing a second Master's degree in Military history. 
A portrait of Washington, daggers, and tobacco boxes

To look at his cases of smalls, you would think that this collection took much of a lifetime to assemble, and I have no doubt that is the case.

On this last visit, I had come on grim business to the Tidewater, to memorialize a young woman and mother who had passed in the week after Christmas. I arrived to find his enthusiastic and knowledgeable assistant and naturally Chris was in the back. That's because Chris isn't just a reseller. He is a conservator in his own right. He makes exceptional and meticulous repairs to paintings, fabrics, and anything else that will benefit from his hand. In fact, a Virginia Civil War flag he restored has won awards at numerous major antiques shows in 2018. Sure, it is the very best Virginia flag I've ever seen. It's also just fabulous! He conserves antiques with a humble sense of his own place in history, always mindful to only make changes that can later be undone should a higher standard of conservation be attained in the future.

I've always wondered why he called it a tavern. On this most recent visit, that finally became evident. Chris is building a tavern within the shop. By tavern I suspect he means a historically relevant tavern. The place had been roughed in since last time I had been there and some spectacular period copper chandeliers hang from the ceiling. You sense it won't be long before he's serving up claret and ales. It will be amazing.

Parlor card of John Wilkes Booth at
Trimble's Tavern
While I'm writing, I should also mention that all of this instinct and intelligence seem to run in the family. Not so far down the road in the town of Kilmarnock, You'll find another Trimble brother and his shop. Their styles and pursuits are completely difference, but the thread that binds them is a spark and a joy in bringing the most interesting wares to their customers. Lewis Trimble operates Lewis Trimble Decorative Arts and Antiques. And their mother can sometimes be spotted at Lewis Trimble's store. She's sharp as can be! So, if you've gone as far as White Stone, you may as well pop by Kilmarnock This other shop is far too complex to cover in this blog post, but perhaps another day I will guide you through it.

At any rate, a big thank you to Chris for whiling away a little time with CCC and for his kindness and professionalism. I've grown professionally because of this man. He will tune your eye if you'll take the time to pay him a visit and listen.


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