If Old MacDonald had a folk art collection, then the California Country Antique Show would be his superstore. It has more farm animals than a barnyard, from whittled wooden cows to hand-painted roosters. We love that no matter how many hooked rugs, sewing samplers, or traditional quilts they have, every booth has farmy friends to greet you with a moo moo here and an oink oink there.
The show is held in a middle school and we always start in the courtyard. We were there less than five minutes when Jennifer spied a cast-iron pig that would make a cute doorstop. She liked its curly tail so much she let out a squeal. Thankfully the seller didn’t hear her––prices can jump if they know how interested you are! Kitty stepped in and asked how much for the piglet plus a box of barnyard puzzle pieces. He said $25 for the pig and $50 for the puzzle, but we could take both for $60. We laughed because we’re spoiled by flea market prices. But, of course, these were real antiques, so Jennifer got the pig for $20 and Kitty went with a gingham goose pincushion for $18.
We were photographing the show, and through the lens Jennifer spotted a shelf of toy sheep. An adorable herd! The vendor called them German Woolly Sheep and said they typically have real wool bodies and collars with little bells. She warned us to look out for reproductions, and when we saw the $265 tag, we decided to do just that. (More in our price range!)
Kitty was on a quest for a folk art painting. The hard part was picking, since this show has so much great art. The first runner-up was a farmscape with house and barn and stable, cows, a donkey, chickens, and a pond full of geese. But it was much too spendy. Instead, she took home a small painting of a big sheep in a green field surrounded by a hedgerow of tiny Holsteins. Odd, colorful, and delightful! Exactly what makes country antiques so wonderful.
One of the best things about little primitive paintings is that they’re playful and easy to decorate with. We love to tuck one into a bookcase or nestle one in a china display. Kitty has turned her fireplace into an unexpected gallery with her raccoon painting resting on the hearth and a series of chickadees on top of the stove insert when not in use. Jennifer has a bunny painting on a gold easel on her bathroom counter. And we’re always on the lookout for cigar box paintings. They are ideal for a narrow wall between two doorways. Simply stack them one over the next from the floor to the ceiling.
A Chicken On Every Pot
Ever wonder why there are so many Hen On Nest covered dishes out there? We asked a specialty dealer, and she said they’re just super collectible! For over a hundred years, dozens of manufacturers have produced these charmers. Prices vary, and she said you have to know dates, makers’ marks, and types of glass to determine their true value. But don’t be chicken! To get a glass hen to roost in your kitchen, just go with your gut. And make sure the top truly matches the bottom. Pieces get mixed up all the time, and dealers call these pairings “marriages.” They may be a pair, but they’ll never be soul mates!