Shopping antiques in the Southwest

Who doesn’t want to own a piece that connects the present from the past?

A beautiful piece of pottery or a woven rug is the perfect keepsake from your vacation in the Southwest. New Mexico’s history and culture stretch back thousands of years. Stores selling antique and vintage items are found across the state, boasting pieces from times gone by.

But, how do you know that the wood chest you’ve fallen in love with and the basket you just have to have are really what they are claimed to be?

Luckily for shoppers, Robert V. Gallegos and Clay Towell, of Albuquerque’s Golden West Trading Post, can help out.

Bold colors and pattern make this Navajo rug especially eye-catching

Bold colors and pattern make this Navajo rug especially eye-catching

Golden West Trading Post specializes in antiques and vintage items from across the Southwest from masterful Navajo rugs, traditional clothing and fine vintage art. This store is conveniently located just blocks from Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town, and is one of Heritage Hotels & Resorts’ Local Treasures partners.

According to Robert and Clay, it can be difficult for the casual shopper to gauge the age of an item or distinguish between contemporary pieces and true antiques. They note that artworks such as baskets, woven rugs and pottery were not traditionally signed or dated by their creators. Items at Golden West are labeled with approximate date ranges rather than concrete dated.

And, they say that discerning whether an item was produced by a member of a particular tribe can be difficult, since at different points in time, some tribes adapted or adopted the artistic stylings of other tribes. Western patterns and influences from Asia also came into the mix as trade increased.

Here are a few things to keep in mind while you’re shopping:

1. Buy items from sellers that are part of the Antique Tribal Arts Dealers Association (ATADA). ATADA sets ethical and professional standards for Tribal Art dealers, and its members comply with these standards.

Member dealers, including Golden West Trading Post, provide purchasers with a written description of each piece, including information about any restoration work the piece has undergone.

A paper scroll with this piece contains a description

A paper scroll with this piece at Golden West Trading Post contains a description

ATADA maintains a list of member dealers.

2. Check the item for any cracks or inconsistencies in color, pattern or material. Again, according to Golden West, reputable dealers will be upfront about whether the item has been repaired.

3. Reputable dealers separate vintage or antique items from contemporary ones expertly made in the old style and/or label newer items.

If you’re not sure whether something you’ve purchased is what you were told it was, you can visit Robert and Clay for an answer!

Golden West Trading Post
1212 Rio Grande Blvd NW
Albuquerque, NM 87104
(505) 242-4799

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