Dreary skies didn't slow business for more than 100 antique dealers who set up shop yesterday at the Howard County fairgrounds for the seventh annual Mid-Atlantic Antiques Market.
The one-day event drew Maryland dealers, as well as shop owners from Maine, Ohio, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and other states.
Browsers and buyers strolled through a fairgrounds display hall that had been turned into an antique-lover's paradise, with dealer after dealer displaying jewelry, quilts, pottery and furniture and just about anything else you'd want -- as long as it's old.
Two dealers from Maine displayed as wall art an authentic logo removed from a 1950s "Silver Eagle" interstate passenger bus.
The Mid-Atlantic Antiques Market was organized by Sims Rogers, a dealer from Cambridge who's been in the business for 20 years.
Recalling the first fair in 1986, Ms. Rogers said yesterday's gray sky and relatively warm temperatures were a blessing compared to conditions during the first market she promoted in West Friendship, an event that almost didn't come off at all.
"The building collapsed under the weight of snow and we had to rent tents," she said.
Many people are attracted to antiques because of their quality of workmanship compared to modern furniture, and the fact that they increase in value over time, Ms. Rogers said.
"Mass-manufactured furniture just doesn't have a life span," Ms. Rogers said.
For Harriet Benton of Bethesda, the early spring event has become something of a ritual. She's been coming to the market for the last four years.
Yesterday, she was looking for white ironstone by a specific maker and silver flatware in a certain pattern by a specific maker. Similar patterns or imitations simply would not do, Ms. Benton said.
Although she hadn't found either, she said she enjoyed herself anyway, debating whether she could afford a spoon that caught her eye.
"I'd love to get in one of these shows with about $25,000," Ms. Benton said. "Would I have a field day."
A couple from Silver Spring left the show happy after buying a tea set from Mackay and Field, a dealer from Harper Woods, Mich.
The couple, who didn't want their names used, said that the 1850s Victorian tea set features illustrations of a mother's grave and her orphaned children.
"We have a morbid sensibility," the husband explained.