New Market: Antiquing the Way It Used to Be
By Penny Goldstein
Special to washingtonpost.com
Monday, July 19, 1999
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
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."
Almost Something for Everyone
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.
Penny Goldstein, an avid collector and certificate candidate in the appraisal program at George Washington University, writes frequently about antiques.
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