AUGUSTA — Mary Saunders flipped intently through the boxes of postcards neatly arranged by location and subject, including one section listed ominously as “disasters.” The annual Augusta Armory Antiques Show, held each of the past 24 New Year’s days at the Augusta Armory, always has a good collection of cards, Saunders said.

“I look mostly for Augusta, but surrounding towns, too,” Saunders, of Augusta, said during Thursday’s show. “I enjoy looking at everything.”

This year’s show included 42 exhibitors showing everything from historical papers to china.

“It’s amazing what they collect,” said show organizer Jim Montell of Gardiner.

And people were apparently eager to check out those items and negotiate a price. Nearly 140 people were waiting in line when the doors opened at 10 a.m. and a steady stream continued to file in throughout the morning. That’s a hefty bounce from recent years, said Montell, who attributed the influx, at least in part, to sun-filled skies and seasonable temperatures.

“That’s a good sign,” Montell said. “We’re blessed with a decent day.”

Montell organizes two shows at the Armory each year, one on New Year’s Day and a spring show that this year is scheduled for April 26.

“I’ve had over 100 shows in this building,” he said.

Montell’s family, including grandchildren, do everything from help vendors unload their displays to greet people at the door. The family also served up fresh-baked items in the kitchen.

“My family is up half the night before,” Montell said.

There are some dealers who attend the show, but Montell said most of those who visit just enjoy searching for something rare or the one item for which they’ve been looking.

“Most of the people are people who do shows,” Montell said. “They go from one location to the other.”

Montell said the New Year’s Day show is his favorite because of the variety it always attracts. And, everything being displayed is for sale. Nothing is shown just for display.

“It’s the most interesting show I’ve ever been on,” he said. “The variety of things is mind boggling.”

Exhibitor Barbara Thomas, owner of River Edge Antiques in Pittston, said the New Year’s Day show is always one of her favorites.

“It’s a new year and everyone is in a good mood,” Thomas said.

Thursday’s was particularly promising because of the high turnout. She speculated that lower gasoline prices made people more willing to splurge this year.

“I think it’s a sign of the economy,” Thomas. “It’s always a good show. This one is amazing this year.”

Mendell’s son-in-law Don Brown of Gardiner, who worked a table at the show, said the antique market is getting grayer. Young people aren’t typically interested in owning a piece of history. Crowds are a rare occurrence at shows.

“We don’t see that anymore,” Brown said. “Only on New Year’s Day.”

Saunders shared the history of her city as she shuffled through the postcards. One pictured the Olde Federal Building and another the old Augusta House, which has since been torn down.

Saunders smiled when she got to a picture of the Memorial Bridge taken shortly after it was completed. It was originally a toll bridge, but the fee was lifted once the construction loan was paid off.

“I heard enterprising people kept selling tickets,” Saunders said. “I don’t know if it’s true or not. It sounds like something someone would do.”

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @CraigCrosby4

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