Hank and Mary Ann Johnson's showcases at the spring antique sale in the ExpoMart look like Indiana Jones' private collection.
Anasazi mugs and bowls. Stone effigy figures. Old West bullets and buckles. Picture frames displaying arrowheads. And best of all, ancient gold figures from Colombia.What other sorts of things do the Johnsons sell? Items from early ghost towns, mining and railroad artifacts and old bottles. "We put out a mail order catalog and do shows," Johnson said.
This show continues through Sunday, opening at noon every day. In addition to the Johnsons, whose Denver-based business is called H.D. Enterprises, the show has attracted scores of antique dealers from the Midwest to the West Coast.
Johnson said he got interested in this kind of treasure when he was a boy.
"I've been a collector and an artifact hunter for many, many years," he said. "We restrict our activities to private lands and old collections for resale."
The couple has been selling by mail for years, with a clientele in America, Europe and even one customer in Australia. But this is the first time they've sold in Salt Lake City.
Walter C. Larsen, the show's director, says the Johnsons are among an increasing number of dealers with high-quality items. "The dealers with the finer material are taking much larger display areas, which means they're bringing a lot more things," he said.
This is because the antique market is booming this year, particularly with the better quality of material. He thinks the antiques are selling partly because the stock market has fluctuated recently. When that happens, he said, "people get out looking for antiques again . . . It looks like 1989 will be a banner year."
Larsen said people are buying two sorts of antiques now: investment-quality material and practical items, like furniture.
Buyers may find more solid investments in the antique shops and shows than in their stock brokers' offices.
Gwen and Cal Colberg, dealers from Star, Idaho, near Boise, agree that the antique market is booming. "It's been fine for us. We've been in California and Oregon this year and we've had wonderful shows" Gwen Colberg said.
In the past, the antique business has been "very trendy," with particular types of things selling. One year it may be oak furniture that sells, another year prints.
"We're kind of bursting out of those boundaries right now," she said. "It seems to all be selling."