Every family, it seems, has at least one piece of glassware they consider precious. Perhaps it's an antique crystal vase. A gift, made precious by the story of the giving. Or a set of Smurf glasses, comical yet collectible.
Ruth and Maurice Yingling know the feeling.
"My wife liked glassware and we collected for a long time," said Maurice Yingling. "When you get more than you know what to do with, you open shop."
That's how, 10 years ago, husband and wife opened R & M Treasures in Hampstead. Their tiny shop sits in its own niche off Mott Avenue, itself a narrow street connecting Snyder's Auction with Main Street and Upper Beckleysville Road.
The shop is filled with precious but affordable items. Many of them are of recent manufacture, intended for the collectibles market.
Fenton, crafted in Williamstown, W.Va., is one of Mr. Yingling's favorites. Older Fenton glass dates to about 1905, when the company began by making "carnival" glass, the incredibly popular free glassware given away at penny toss games at carnivals during the early 1900s. More Fenton pieces are available from the '40s and '50s, he said.
"Fenton is made today. It's very collectible. Each piece is made for only one year," said Mr. Yingling, who became a distributor for Fenton glass eight years ago.
His shop is like a museum. There are the elegantly painted and decorated vases in the Burmese style of sunset colors; baskets, animals, plates, and bells, some with gilt pine cones for Christmas, one with a music box inside.
Some pieces are signed by members of the Fenton family. Some pieces are so limited in quantity that they are sold out before Mr. Yingling receives his catalog.
Fenton has produced glass for 90 years and is commemorating the anniversary with, as you might expect, a piece of glass. Like other "historical collectibles" it produces, this is made from the mold and colored glass last used in the 1920s.
R & M Treasures is a haven for several kinds of milk glass, immediately recognized for its opaque white color.
Some collectors enjoy the raised polka dots of hobnail milk glass. Others, including Mrs. Yingling, treasure the "paneled grape" design by Westmoreland, a company that ceased production in 1984. She has collected eight place settings, a remarkable feat, noted Mr. Yingling, and has one or two pieces to go to complete the entire collection. That treasure hunt, he says, is what collecting's all about.
"Certain things are hard to find," he says. "Lots of people are looking." He keeps an active wish list. Some requests come from Pennsylvania, Virginia and the Eastern Shore. When he discovers something, he says, it's barely in his hands before it reaches a collector.
Throughout the tiny and very tidy shop are smaller groups of jTC Byrde crystal imported from Germany, black amethyst goblets that radiate the deepest grape color when held to the sky, cookie jars, old children's books, a wooden cigar press and interesting bric-a-brac. In addition to an oak ice box and several other antiques, Mr. Yingling uses reproduction antiques to display his glassware. The furniture is for sale, too.
R & M Treasures, at 4107 E. Mott Ave., is open Fridays from 6 to 9 p.m., Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.. It will be closed on July 21 and will reopen Aug. 4.
The Hampstead Business Association wants everyone to think of the future of Main Street. Your ideas and concerns for the town into the year 2000 and beyond will be welcome at a meeting called the "Main Street Marketing and Revitalization Charrette".
The meeting, for adults only, is at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Hampstead Fire Hall. Refreshments will be provided.
The mayor and Town Council, the county commissioners and state representatives have been invited. Business association members Dick Matthews, Martha Stacks, and Councilman Wayne Thomas have organized the meeting.
"This is a meeting of minds, a brainstorming session," said Kathy Rampolla, who edits the Hampstead Business Association newsletter.
"We will break into groups for discussion and will hopefully come up with the most important issues of the community and what to focus on," she said.
A marketing company, Chesapeake Group, will conduct a study of how the downtown area can be improved, she said. Its representatives will participate in Sunday's meeting.
Problems with parking and pedestrian traffic, and marketing the Main Street area will be under discussion with an eye on the future.
Discussion of the Hampstead bypass is expected because that road is scheduled for 2000, she said.
Information: Dr. Todd Winebrenner, 239-4000.
Carol Fertitta, founder of the Home-Based Worker's Network, will speak about saving money on long distance phone bills at today's luncheon meeting of the Hampstead Business Association.
It's also the last day for members who wish to advertise in the association's directory to submit materials. The annual directory is to be published Aug. 28.
The meeting is at noon today at Dean's Restaurant, 832 S. Main St., Hampstead.