Whether it's raining or sunny, the inside of the Largo Minnreg Building will shine this weekend as the Sparkling Clearwater Depression Glass Club's 35th Annual Show and Sale kicks off.
The event features 18 dealers from Florida and around the nation selling American-made art glass, carnival glass, Depression glass, elegant and pattern glass, plus china, pottery, dinnerware and kitchenware from the 1880s to the present.
"You just can't believe the beauty of all this glass until you see it in person," said show organizer Tom Campbell, who with his wife, Becki, owns between 10,000 and 12,000 pieces.
"These dealers bring the best of the best, not chipped or scratched," he said. "You can see glass in an antique shop, but it's different when you walk into a glass show and see thousands of the sparkly stuff looking at you."
Visitors to the show can enter to win some $1,000 in door prizes. Expert glass repair also will be offered.
Depression glass was manufactured in the United States during the Great Depression, and its cost was so low that it often was distributed by retailers as a freebie. Now, the translucent glass is far more valuable.
Campbell started collecting in 1990. He and his wife collect glass bedroom lamps, but he collects Depression glass, opalescence glass that predates the Great Depression, and vividly colored Tiffin glass. He admits he started collecting by finding items that were pretty and within his budget.
During the show, 108 tables in the 17,000-square-foot gymnasium will hold thousands of pieces of glass, from the most collectable and valuable to pieces that will fit most any budget.
"Very few collectors today want whole dinner sets," Campbell said. "There are advanced collectors who come looking for that one rare piece. But a lot of people come who have never been to a show before. They wind up buying a drop-dead gorgeous bowl or vase. The value for them is not that the piece is rare, but that it's really pretty."
For those interested in knowing the difference, check out the club's book booth with volumes that list current values for the glass, from lovely antiques to rare collectables and every item in between.
Or stop by the information desk, where club members will identify glass items for free.
"We often help people out at the ID desk when they come up and ask if this piece is a good value for the sale price," Campbell said. "There may be six on the floor of the same thing with different prices. I'm honest with them and may tell them to keep looking. Whether you buy a piece or not, it's fun to browse."