Foothill Treasures Following the Antique Trail to the Mother Lode
By Antoinette May
Maybe it's just a "little" thing like a liking for small china dogs. Perhaps triggered by a childhood gift, a pipe stand anchored by a bull dog. Then, slowly the passion grows to include 1930s celluloid Dobermans, Limoge poodles from France, plastic pups from cracker jack boxes, crystal beagles from Bavaria. Pretty soon there are more than 300 of them.
What's a collector to do but recognize that she or he has the passion? From there, it's either get a bigger house-a much bigger house-or start selling things.
That's what happened to Mokelumne Hill resident, Art Novotny. First the bigger house, then a career as an independent antique dealer that's lasted some forty years.
It's easy to see that Novotny, a gentle, elegant man with a shock of silver hair, loves what he does. "I see a beautiful carved bedstead or a Tiffiny lamp at an auction or estate sale and bring it home. Soon that lovely old piece is part of my life--until I find the perfect home for it."
Calaveras County is an antique mecca for good reasons, he believes. "Most people come initially for the Mother Lode ambience. After a good lunch, maybe a night at an historic inn, they wonder into some little shop and get lucky. Maybe they find old mining tools-pans, lanterns, ore cars. Perhaps Victorian tables, china or glassware. Original Gold Rush treasures are rare but do exist. Whatever the era, look for quality and condition."
Novotny believes Calaveras County's greatest advantage is its diversity. "If prospectors don't find their dream commode in one shop, there are lots more sprinkled along Highway 49.
Antique stores aren't like supermarkets or gas stations. Owners enjoy a camaraderie that allows them to recommend other stores. Lately Novonoty has been mentoring the newest kid on the antique block, Kathy Olson.
Olson's inviting shop, Keskydee, offers not only a beguiling variety of upscale antiques handed down by pioneer families, but work by local artists including Marion Waldon's renderings of historic buildings.
In a cozy relaxed atmosphere visitors can look through home accessory catalogs and literally hundreds of fabric samples. Sitting before a crackling fire, they can discuss their decorating problems with on-sight designer Ashley Canty.
(8317 Main St., Mokelumne Hill; (209) 286-1488. Thursday thru Sunday from 10 to 4.)
THE BARN has gorgeous antiques of
all kinds but is best known for its antique lighting fixtures. Each lamp is an art form. It takes a lot of will power to leave this store without buying something.
Filben, a 50 year veteran of the
antique world, a true gift for
discrimination. "It's all right here," he
says. "I've traveled the four western
states on countless buying trips, but
found the best buys right on highway
49. Locals don't always know what
they have, but Bay Area dealers do.
They come here, pay our prices, then
raise the ante back home."
EARLY POVERTY CO is all about collectibles. Whatever your passion, you can indulge it here.
There's a little
bit of everything. Jody Roebuck, the
manager, says the most sought after
items are cookie jars. If so, Early
Poverty is the place to go. You'll find
every size and shape.
SAN ANDREAS TRADING POST
The toys are a special
treat. Some have been around the
block a time or two but still invite a
ORPHAN ANNIE'S has everything. I mean everything!
This is an emporium with more than forty dealers. If you can't find what you want here, it doesn't exist.
Depression glass is a specialty, Blue Willow plates and platters, antique jewelry but also dressers, beds, tables and chairs.
You need to see it to believe it.
TIC TOC TIQUE specializes in clocks and pocket watches but has a bit of everything.
I specially liked the art nouveau mirrors ranging from $65 to $200.
The building, an antique in its
own right, dating to the 1860s, has an
excellent gallery in back. Owners,
Jon and Karen Gilmore, pride
themselves on their Indian jewelry and
BATHROOM MACHINERIES has something guaranteed to yank your chain. Not only does the emporium hold antique plumbing, lighting, keys and hardware, but a resident ghost. The hundred-year-old I.O.O.F. Hall is high spirited, to say the least-just ask the folks who work there.
out the pre-civil war tubs and toilets.
(495 Main St., Murphys. (209) 728-2031. Weekdays, 8 to 5, Saturdays 10 to 4, closed Sundays.)
McINTOSH-ON-MAIN is a newcomer to antique row but boasts a nice assortment of pretty pine and oak furniture along with their Scotch tartans.
This store has the
best assortment of Gold Rush
memorabilia spotted thus far. Look for
old nails, spikes, pans and lanterns.
WHEN YOU GO Highway 26 takes you straight to Mokelumne Hill.
After touring historic Main Street, head south along Highway 49 passing through San Andreas and Angels Camp.
From downtown Angels Camp, turn east on highway 4 to visit the charming, antique-filled town of Murphys.
Highway 4 west from Angels Camp is an alternative back to Stockton and the Central Valley.
Where To Eat: You can get a great burger at the Double Springs Brewery, corner of Main and Center, Mokelumne Hill, open Wednesday through Sunday. Phone: (209) 286-
The Pickle Patch is the kind
of upscale garden restaurant you
might expect of find on the Peninsula,
in Marin or Orinda. Homemade soups,
fancy sandwiches and delicious
salads make you want to go back.
Grounds turns out as great
a breakfast as you can find
anywhere. Lunch is good too.
Murphys is growing trendier
by the second and Murphys Grille is
its "in" spot. Enjoy a varied menu and
watch the town morph before your
Where To Stay
The Leger Hotel, an historic antique-filled country inn, has a restaurant open Thursday through Monday. The bar, with stained glass brought round the Horn, is the town living room. (8304 Main St. (209) 284-1401.
2 and 3 ) The Keskydee in Mokelumne Hill has an eclectic look that invites browsing.
4) A cup to suit every fancy at the San Andreas Trading Post.
5) The San Andreas Trading Post has lots of treasures and a safe to keep them in.
6) Scarlett and Rhett might have enjoyed one of these pre-civil war tubs at Bathroom Machineries in Murphys
7) Eureka! Gold Rush treasures at McIntosh-on-Main in Murphys
8) The Barn in San Andreas specializes in antique light fixtures, but that's only the beginning.