Antique collections a tribute to vibrant history

Antiques can display the life of the rich, but the collection Leigh Enever has brought to Dubbo hints at the emotions of people caught up in tragedies long ago.

The Albury woman deals in jewellery popular in the Victorian era as a tribute to the dead.

The lockets and brooches containing hair from loved and lost family members are some of the unusual wares on display at the Dubbo Antiques and Collectables Fair on Saturday and Sunday.

Ms Enever travels to Paris, London and Dublin in search of the mourning jewellery that has become an interest.

She acknowledged the practice of making the items, which she preferred to call "memory jewellery", was almost unknown to Australians in the 21st century.

"It came from when Prince Albert died in 1861 and Victoria went into intense mourning for a long period," Ms Enever said.

"The Queen had magnificent mementos of Albert and people wanted to be like her."

An emerging middle class had money to buy the diamonds cut by new methods in the second half of the 1800s, the dealer said.

Jet from Whitby and other readily-available materials meant the working class could also treasure their loved ones.

"The age of death was much younger then, because of the horrendous conditions," Ms Enever said.

"This was a way of keeping a memory."

The antiques dealer said sometimes her collection surprised people.

"In some ways I struggle with it, in other ways I appreciate the sentiment behind the jewellery," she said.

Ms Enever, a former school principal, said she was excited to be at her first Dubbo fair, which had a gala opening last night.

Twenty dealers had set up at the Dubbo Regional Theatre and Convention Centre by mid-yesterday.

About 1500 people are expected to attend the fair, which is presented by the Rotaract Club of Dubbo with the assistance of the Rotary Club of Dubbo.

Fair co-ordinator Carla Pittman was impressed by an antique diver's helmet as she and other volunteers worked busily to strains of jazz.

"From a footstool to a picnic basket, jewellery and even some lace, there's something here for you, whatever you collect," Miss Pittman said.

The fair is open from 10am to 5pm on Saturday and 10am to 4pm on Sunday and proceeds from the event will be donated to charities.

This article was first written by Faye Wheeler for the Daily Liberal.