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Great Expectations:
Saltillo Antiques Show Celebrates


During the past seven years, Mexico has witnessed a boom in the antiques business, as most veteran collectors from this country can attest. Prior to 1980, there were few antiques shops open to the general public, and virtually no shows dedicated to dealers and collectors of good "old" merchandise. Well friends, the times they are a changin'.
The National Antiques Show, in Saltillo, Coahuila, just celebrated it's fourth anniversary this past September. Over the past four years, vendor participation in this event has more than doubled as an increasing number of aficionados from throughout Mexico and the southern United States pursue the art of collecting with vigor.
The Saltillo show marks a new era for Mexico in the world of collecting. Organized by the Coahuila branch of the government sponsored organization DIF, this event blazed new ground in 1994 with the opening of the first ever national show dedicated strictly to antique dealers and collectors. This year's event coordinator, José de Jesús Berlanga, admits that the first few years were far from easy for the organizers.
Most Mexican dealers weren't sure what to expect from a national show, nor whether it would be worth their time, and money, to experiment in an unproven event. Only nineteen brave dealers turned out the first year. But public attendance was strong and word spread rapidly to other antiquarians. Although the following year showed much stronger dealer participation, sales and visitor attendance unfortunately were more moderate. With the Fourth National Antiques Show now under their belt, Berlanga feels confident that they are finally headed down the road of success.
Antiquarians from nine different states, including from as far away as Chiapas, took part in this year's five day show. Especially strong participation came from Mexico City and Jalisco, with dealers from these regions representing a whopping 55% of occupied booth space.
Most dealers reported strong sales and moderate traffic this year. The difference from past shows, many vendors commented, was that buyers were seriously shopping. "Very few tire-kickers," as one Jalisco antiquarian eloquently stated.
Collectors had an excellent mix of good quality antiques to choose from. Dealers from the states of Mexico, Chiapas, Nuevo Leon, Aguascalientes, Morelos, San Luis Potosi, Puebla, Michoacan and Jalisco all admitted to holding back their best pieces from local customers for unveiling during the show. Ancient Roman mosaics, Spanish colonial paintings and religious items, turn-of-the century French Art Deco and Nouveau furniture, fine cut crystal, signed porcelains, vintage jukeboxes, and Mexican primitives were among the many different items on display in individual booths.
Scheduled in conjunction with the five day sale were two auctions and the presentation of the newly released book by Mexico City antiquarian Rodrigo Rivero Lake, La Visión de un Anticuario .
The National Antiques Show's promoters worked diligently this year to ensure a smooth-running event. Federal Highway police offices were dispatched to escort and protect participating antiquarians transporting valuable merchandise long distances. There was also strong support from local and international press organizations.
Interest in collecting is developing in wider circles here in Mexico thanks in part to promoters and organizers of national shows like the yearly event in Saltilo. We look forward to seeing more antiques expositions appear in the near future.