ANTIQUE collectors headed to Huddersfield Sports Centre yesterday to take part in their own Bargain Hunt.
Spotting a £3,000 heirloom for £5 has become a national obsession, thanks to the televised antique antics of expert David Dickinson, with his catch-phrase ``cheap as chips".
Pricey Victoriana was sold alongside little collectibles retailing at just a few pence on hundreds of stalls selling pottery, glassware, books, postcards - everything, in fact, imaginable.
Such fairs are held on a weekly basis around the North of England by Manchester-based company Dualco.
One of the organisers explained the attractions of the fairs held at Huddersfield.
"You'd be amazed what people collect - anything and everything.
"Prices can vary pretty much from 50p to £500, if not more," he said.
He added that the public enjoyed browsing in a relaxed atmosphere.
"It's obviously good for a bargain hunt. You can barter with the stallholders and get the price down. That's part of the enjoyment."
Marie Graham, 56, from Scarborough, was spending the weekend with friends in Huddersfield.
Her first love is costume jewellery.
"I'm just interested in jewellery. I have got a flat-full in Scarborough. I've had extra cupboards built to accommodate things."
She only buys striking items. "I go for the bold, Victorian, dramatic pieces. Stuff you can't really wear walking round Tesco."
At the opposite side of the hall, Ted Dunaway was running a china stall with wife Linda.
They travelled from Stockport and sell pottery as a hobby.
"We try to keep to a period which is not modern. We try to keep everything before the 1960s. The older the better," said Ted.
Unusual Green Carlton pottery pieces made in the 1930s and 1940s were selling well.
Although the day was generally quiet, they said Yorkshire fairs tended to be successful.
"We find Yorkshire fairs are much better," said Linda. "There are more collectors in Yorkshire than Cheshire."
Shirley Denton is a dealer at Halifax Antiques, King Cross.
As an antiques professional, she was on the prowl for bargains.
She said the big fairs were good for general collectors. "There's something for everybody here. There's always something that perhaps takes your eye, something interesting."
But as a dealer, price was the big issue. "Something is worth what someone is going to pay for it," she added.
She was examining a 19th century blue and white pottery soup dish priced at about £80.
When questioned about David Dickinson, she had few words of praise. "He teaches customers to be far too aggressive in driving dealers down."
The next Dualco antiques fair is on Sunday, January 18, 2004, starting at 9.30am and finishing at 4.30pm.