Wednesday, Dec 26 2012 02:53 PM

Antique shows never get old

BY MIRANDA WHITWORTH Contributing writer

While many are looking ahead to the new year, organizers of one of the biggest antique shows of the year are hoping a few Kern residents are in the mood to look back. Way back.

Mary Bryan, event producer of the Antique Show and Sale at the Kern County Fairgrounds this weekend, is looking forward to seeing young faces take a step back in time.

Related Info

Antique Show and Sale

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday

Where: Kern County Fairgrounds, 1142 P St.

Admission: $5

Information: 559-638-2639

"Things from the past that young people aren't familiar with just excite them," Bryan said. "You can't sell a butter churn to an older person, but a younger person will take it home because of the novelty of it."

Kitchen items -- like butter churns -- and other household and yard tools are known as "primitives" in the antique world. Bryan said a good portion of the items up for grabs at the sale will be primitives and, although they may have been commonplace decades ago, they now hold a unique charm that she said can sometimes be hard to explain.

"Wooden boxes and old trunks are very popular. Especially if they are in good condition. I don't know why these certain things are so popular; it's amazing what people look for."

Bryan has been working with antiques for decades, after her passion for Depression-era glass left her with enough inventory to go into business for herself. She opened her own shop in the mid-1970s and has spent the last 40 years following the ever-changing trends in collectibles. According to Bryan, what's hot on the market now may not be next year, making it hard to predict the next big thing.

"I think the antiques shows that are on TV right now have changed people. You look at these rusty bicycles that are really hot right now; it used to be you couldn't give rust like that away without fixing it up first."

The same goes for jewelry. While vintage baubles have a history of being stable sellers, there are some pieces that won't attract buyers. But, according to Bryan, some pieces have re-emerged as high-dollar items.

"I remember there was a time when you couldn't give a piece of Mexican jewelry away; you would have it forever. Now the stuff is going, and it's going for big prices."

Many of the Mexican pieces that are catching the eyes of buyers are Taxco silver, a legendary jewelry brand that began in the 1920s. The chunky silver pieces, designed from silver mined from the mountains surrounding Taxco, Mexico, were primarily shipped to the United States, with popularity escalating in the 1970s. But interest in the Southwestern style isn't limited to Taxco silver; Bryan said the popularity of Southwestern and Mexican items has increased across the board.

"These items are very popular right now. Native American jewelry, prints, pottery and rugs are really big. People are always looking for good pieces and there are a lot of fakes out there. But there are a lot of really good pieces, too."

Will the passion for Southwestern antiques stand the test of time? Bryan has been in the business long enough to know there is no easy answer to that question.

"So many people collect so many different things and their interests today will change tomorrow, so it's hard to know as a dealer what to bring to shows anymore. It's amazing how things evolve. I just watch it rise and fall and rise and fall."

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