Though boundaries still divide the political world, there's just one world of fine antiques.

Those who can afford it are just as likely to buy in Europe as in New York or their hometown. And personal taste, rather than decorating styles, often dictates what they choose for their homes, says Paige Rense, editor of Architectural Digest magazine.What's fashionable crosses both time periods and national boundaries.

The antiques dealer's world has also become much smaller, said the Los Angeles-based editor who was in New York recently to attend the Winter Antiques Show at the 7th Regiment Armory.

"You see the major dealers at shows all over the country and every local dealer knows what things are worth," added Rense, who travels quite a bit herself in her quest for luxurious interiors to reproduce in the pages of the magazine.

The New York Winter Antiques Show bears out her opinion that there is no single hot ticket in the upper reaches of the antiques world. The show held each January in Manhattan for the past 35 years is considered a bellwether by trend-watchers.

This year's show brought together 74 dealers from the United States, England and Europe, who exhibited some of their most valuable wares. Among categories in abundance were neoclassic English, European and American furniture and architectural ornaments, oriental ceramics and bronzes and formal furniture from the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

American primitive antiques - furniture, paintings and objects as well as American Indian artifacts - were particularly evident, which represents a recent change.

What's selling well, according to exhibitor Kenneth Newman of the Old Print Shop, is "the top 10 percent in all categories. Top quality, good condition and rarity are sought."

But does anyone actually buy those expensive antiques? You bet they do - and as quickly as possible. By the second preview party the day before the show opened to the general public, the Alexander Gallery had already sold a miniature portrait of George Washington complete with a lock of the first president's hair to the widely known collector, Eddy Nicholson.

He paid "somewhat less" than the $1.25 million asking price, according to Alexander Acevedo, the gallery owner.

But not everything was beyond the reach of the middle class.

Ruth Hubbell of Rye, N.Y., sold a collection of colorful glass hyacinth vases at $135 to $350 per vase. A single collector snapped up all of them.

A buyer was seen writing a check for $9,800 to the Edward H. Merrin Gallery for what were certainly among the oldest objects on display at the show - a collection of Phoenician spearheads, circa 1500 B.C.