Among the newer shops and old favorites in the antique district in Orange:
A & P Collectables, 151 N. Glassell St. You could easily pass right by this little shop, situated in a narrow brick building. Don't miss it. The Ackerman family, which has sold antiques in Orange for more than 15 years, has a reputation for selling fine china and silver at fair prices.
Matriarch Bonnie Ackerman can even explain the difference between Depression-era glass and Depression glass, which was cheap to produce and of comparatively low quality. Often a piece of Depression glass came in cereal boxes. Yet there was also elegant glassware made during the era, including finely etched crystal goblets (A & P had one set of delicate apple-hued wine glasses by Fostoria for $192).
Anthony's Fine Antiques, 114 N. Glassell St. One of the newest shops in the district, Anthony's draws customers with its ornate wood facade that once adorned the Spanish consulate building in Buenos Aires.
Inside are armoires, huge carved tables, secretaries, desks and four-poster beds, most American and French pieces dating from the 1900s to 1930s. Many pieces have intricate carvings of gargoyles, maidens, scrolls, fruit--the kind of workmanship seldom seen in modern furniture.
Owner Tony Deleo is not a purist. Rather than leave antiques in weathered condition, he often restores and refinishes them, bringing them to their original luster. Among his showpieces: a towering 9 1/2-foot Bombay armoire, circa 1890, with highly detailed scroll work, made of walnut ($13,500).
Country Roads Antiques, 204 W. Chapman Ave. Using pieces from old churches, storefronts, barns, fruit stands and even the Laguna Beach boardwalk, the proprietors of Country Roads Antiques have created a miniature country town.
More than 75 dealers hawk their wares inside stalls made to look like an old town bank, church or grocery store. While there are a lot of country-style furnishings, including rag dolls, quilts and an occasional spinning wheel ($189), articles from other eras such as Art Deco and Victorian are also represented.
"We have primitive, European, and everything in-between," says Dixie Mitchell, store manager.
Muff's, 135 S. Glassell St. A genuine old-fashioned hardware store, Muff's is a must-see for anyone restoring old furniture, working on a fixer-upper or simply trying to add charm and distinction to his or her modern home. The shop is crammed with antique and reproduction fixtures of every kind. There are display cases filled with doorknobs, hinges, hooks, drawer pulls and handles, knockers, trunk locks and keys, light switches, lampshades--even brass label plates for file cabinets.
"This is like a candy store to a guy," says Gary Hahn, shop owner.
Some things have been salvaged from homes destined for demolition and look it: There are door knobs still covered in old paint. Other items are new, like the Victorian-style brass door plate ($48). The real treats, however, are the old-and-never-sold things, such as the glass doorknobs made in the late 1800s.
Tea Leaf Cottage, 60 Plaza Square. Those who enter here often feel they're in a quaint country cottage. Chirping birds and soothing classical music can be heard over three sound systems. The scent of herbs and potpourri perfumes the air. Walls are hung with vines, scraps of lace, old shutters, pieces of wrought-iron fences, murals, dried flowers and other found objects.
"It's a house secret garden," says Meg Breeze, owner.
The place is filled with ideas for those wanting to decorate their homes using things they've recycled in their own back yards. Homeowners can see how a piece of old fretwork can be treated like an objet d'art. They can also find china, silver, linen, doilies, picture frames and other furnishings sold by six dealers that fill every nook of the shop.
The Victoria Co., 146 S. Glassell St. Victorian style isn't for everyone, admits Donna Baker, shop owner, but those who do like lace, floral fabrics and tapestries, ribbon and other bits of Victoriana will feel at home here.
Shoppers can find silk lampshades decorated with rosettes and fringe, floral print pillows, hand-hooked rugs, vintage-style tea towels and other collectibles in her Victorian salon. The rugs are especially popular, Baker says. One style has a blue and white quilt pattern: $82.
Uncle Tom's American Country Antiques, 119 S. Glassell St. Shopping at Uncle Tom's is like visiting a rustic log cabin in the woods. The walls look as if they're made of logs, and they're decorated with garlands of evergreen, old American flags and weathered aluminum siding. The scent of cinnamon brooms ($6 each) gives one the impression that an apple pie is due out of the oven any time.
The cabin stocks primitive-style items for the home and garden: birdhouses, lamps, rocking chairs, animal carvings and decorative lawn stakes. Some merchandise is antique, and some is made to look old. Great-grandmother would be shocked to learn that her wooden spoons, made in the 1800s, go for about $20 each. A colorful sunflower stake for the garden is $40.