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  New Market: Antiquing the Way It Used to Be
By Penny Goldstein
Special to washingtonpost.com
Monday, July 19, 1999

    A wall of blue and white pottery and porcelain at 1812 House An entire wall of the 1812 House is lined with blue and white pottery and porcelain. (By Penny Goldstein for washingtonpost.com)
A sign along Interstate 70 says you are approaching New Market, "Antiques Capital of Maryland." Collectors expecting to find the state's largest assortment of antiques will be disappointed. There are no malls here. No one is advertising a shop in terms of thousands of square feet.

Along Main Street and neighboring alleys, 27 small shops carry antiques and collectibles, although a few stretch the definitions of both. If volume is your goal for a day of antiques-tripping, head for the malls in Frederick. New Market is for those wanting a genuine, small-town experience.

Meet the Local Dealers
The sign on the door of Big D's Antiques tells visitors to trust in the Lord, which Big D obviously does, since no one is inside minding the shop. Among a lot of odds and ends, there are some stylish 1950s frosted highball glasses and several pieces of ruby Bohemian glass.

Outside, shop owner Donald Morrison is taking a siesta in his van and is about to close up for the afternoon and head to an auction. He'd love to get his hands on the Civil War memorabilia listed in the auction flyer, but he's not optimistic about finding it in his price range. "Too much competition," he says. "Too many retired folks like myself becoming antique dealers."

Morrison thinks a lot of indiscriminate collectors are paying too much for antiques, and he's not sure how it will all end. "One thing I learned when I was a farmer," he says. "When the price of pork went up to sixty cents, the public stopped buying."

    Big D's Antiques Big D's Antiques is a favorite stop for price-conscious collectors. (By Penny Goldstein for washingtonpost.com)
   
New Market has a town hall, but you can usually find Mayor Rick Fleshman at Fleshman's Antiques, a shop full of Victorian oak furniture. And the town's focal point is the New Market General Store. A sign outside the store advertises "Soup & Sandwiches. Antiques. Fudge."

Almost Something for Everyone
Residents have lunch in the back room. Antique-hunters peruse the kitchen collectibles shelved among jars of jam and furniture polish, and the kids press their noses to the candy case. There are only a few needs that shopkeepers John and Karen Carrier can't satisfy. A tourist walks in and asks for a latté. Karen directs her to the Tea Room down the street.

The oldest building in town is Smith Tavern, built in 1793. Like many New Market residents, owners Jim and Bonnie Higgs use their historic property as both home and shop. Standing on the front porch, it feels like you are suspended over Main Street.

"Can you imagine what it must have been like," Jim Higgs muses, "when this was the old National Pike?" Herds of sheep going east, wagons full of settlers headed for the Ohio Country. Higgs loves to tell of the tavern's checkered past. It has been a parsonage, a brothel, an African American schoolteacher's house.

Now an antiques shop, it is filled with items reflecting the Higgs' diverse interests. There is a medicine chest found on their recent trip to China, Pennsylvania red slipware, Wedgwood, majolica, pewter, silver, jewelry and plenty of curiosities.

What else will you find in New Market? An extensive collection of English ceramics is offered at Colleen and Bill Shook's 1812 House. At Grange Hall Antiques (yes, it's the former lodge of the local farmers' association), you'll find Steiff animals, German granite ware, and fishing and sporting collectibles. The old meeting place is also New Market's cyberstation, where antiques dealer and webmaster Rita Mueller keeps many of the local merchants online. (www.newmarketmd.com).

There is a little bit of almost every style and period in furniture in New Market. Other dealers specialize in jewelry, dolls, 20th-century art pottery, clocks and beer steins. You might not find the latest hot collectible. But if your quest for antiques is rooted in a longing for a simpler, friendlier past, then New Market has just what you're looking for.

Trip Tips
You can reach New Market via I-70 from Frederick, or for a scenic route from Washington, take I-270 to the Hyattstown/Route 109 exit. Follow Route 75 to New Market. Many of the shops are only open on weekends. No addresses are listed here because they aren't necessary. Just park the car (for free) along Main Street and start visiting door to door.

Penny Goldstein, an avid collector and certificate candidate in the appraisal program at George Washington University, writes frequently about antiques.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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