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The Great Southwestern Antique Show

Judy Mellow | August 3rd, 2013

This booth featured some santos, religious paintings on tin, not in great condition but representative of a folk art tradition common in the Southwest. The prices were between $150 and $250.

This was the distinctive booth of Joseph Alphabet of Newport Beach, California. The Chinese heads on the top shelf are from a Chinese ship of the 1600’s and were $1500 for the two. The kachina from the 1980’s, was likely Acoma or Zuni and $675. A to Z, got it?

Tyrone Campbell of Scottsdale, Arizona, offered the 19th-century Venezuelan triptych. The third-phase chief pattern revival rug on the left, 1920’s, was $3200. On the right, a 1925-35 Storm pattern rug was $4850.

Lise Thomas of Watsonville, California, offered these fiesta costumes. The outfit on the left from the 1940’s or ’50’s was $500. The 1950’s or ’60’s dresses in front are from the region around Merida, the colonial capital of Yucatan, Mexico. They are very traditional in design, with the full costume consisting of a long blouse (huipil) and a skirt. The blouse has a colorful embroidered yoke, and the bottom band of the blouse and the skirt is edged with embroidery and lace. The complete dress was tagged $300, and the huipil only was $125.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Most aficionados of southwestern antiques think of Santa Fe, New Mexico, as the center of their universe and of Albuquerque as, well, simply the airport. They fly into Albuquerque’s Sunport, get behind the steering wheel of their rented cars, and head north the 60 or so miles to Santa Fe, where, during the second and third weekends of August, the cognoscenti gather for tribal art and modern art, Mexican silver, objects ancient and modern. You name it; Santa Fe has it. The third weekend of August is Indian Market, the ultimate for collectors of contemporary Native art and artifacts.

Albuquerque usually gets left in the dust. After all, the very words “Santa Fe” whisper with the breath of faith. “Albuquerque,” on the other hand, simply rhymes with turkey. But here’s some advice to those who disregard Albuquerque: Not so fast, guys. Albuquerque, for the most part, lacks Santa Fe’s charm—and high prices. You can stay in a decent Albuquerque hotel for $80 a night versus $600. And you can find great antiques at the Great Southwestern Antique Show, many probably at better prices than those in Santa Fe.

The shows in Santa Fe are at more modern venues, where the air-conditioning chills. The Great Southwestern Antique Show, held this year on August 3 and 4 in a vintage hall at the state fairgrounds, has a groaning air-conditioner, and the participants and attendees sweat accordingly.

Looking more closely at the Albuquerque show, it is much larger than the Santa Fe show (there are some 200 dealers) and full of variety. You want cowboy boots? You’ll find them in all sizes and designs. You want vintage diamonds? Well, diamonds are old to begin with, so what’s an extra 50 years or so? You want firearms? There are old firearms. Acres of jewelry cases hold silver jewelry, mostly Native but not entirely, for fans of jewelry. The discerning eye will find plenty of enchanting bargains.

When you’re hungry, you can fill up not just on the hot dogs or burgers found at many antiques shows; you can bite on a burrito or spoon up a bowl of posole. How’s that for great southwestern?

Terry Schurmeier, the principal of the show, is proud of the fact that the show is a benefit. All proceeds from the Friday afternoon preview go to the Albuquerque Community Foundation, which benefits youth. Profits from the Saturday and Sunday shows, after expenses, go to other nonprofit organizations, such as the local public radio station.

But you needn’t be motivated by charity to attend the show. It’s full of great stuff and plenty of bargains. Like its locale—Albuquerque—the Great Southwestern Antique Show is more wild, more woolly, and more Western than its Santa Fe counterparts. It’s definitely worth a visit.

For information regarding next year’s show, call (505) 255-4054 or visit the Web site (

Jim Williams of Poor House Antiques, Palmyra, Nebraska, offered primitives with patina. This Spanish scale from the late 18th century was priced at $1200. The photograph doesn’t do justice to the great metal objects here.

Erich Erdoes of Santa Fe offered these yellow suede leggings, circa 1890, in fabulous condition. Ute or Jicarilla, it was hard to tell, as both featured a fringe over the cuff. The leggings were tagged $3600.

Originally published in the December 2013 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2013 Maine Antique Digest

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