BRIMFIELD, MASS. — This tiny Massachusetts town saw its last show for 2013, and by most accounts it was good. From September 3 to 8, dealers exhibited on the 20-plus fields offering their individual collections of antiques, collectibles and home décor. Field operators reported that sales of exhibit space were equal to or exceeded the numbers for last September, and the dealers were generally reporting sales that were sufficient to cover their time and expenses while leaving them with a profit for the week.
Early the first day crowds were filling the parking lots and then the show fields looking for that something special. In the Vermont Tent at Green Acres, many found what they were looking for. Greg Hamilton, Vergennes, was selling from his collection of silver, both coin and sterling. He also sold an early cherry drop leaf table in an American adaptation of Sheraton style, circa 1820.
Nearby, Mary and George Bittner, Chester, spent the week moving to several fields, but on Tuesday they were selling their American working antiques household and farm tools from the Vermont Tent.
There was an enormous bear on the main aisle at Green Aces. It was offered by Village Green Antiques, Barre, Mass., for $1,895.
Among the newest fields at Brimfield, the Grand Trunk had a number of large, multidealer tents at the front of the property. Side-by-side in one of them were two dealers with very compatible early American furniture. Steve Brennan, Deep River, Conn., was selling an early jelly cupboard as his most visible piece, while his neighbor, Carol Lee of Stafford Springs, Conn., offered several early chests and an early commode in blue paint.
At Brimfield there is usually something somewhere for just about everyone. New England Pickers, a dealer from nearby Monson, Mass., was selling a 1946 Dodge pickup truck in good original condition, operating but not restored for $10,000. It was set up in the front yard at Brimfield Barn.
Ted and Liz Crisan, from West Middlesex, Penn., were selling early lighting, straw hats and a zinc plated sign from their tent at The Apple Barn.
Holding down the fort in his tent at The Meadows, Chris Trimble was showing his collection of early American military antiques. From his business, Trimble’s Tavern in White Stone, Va., he was selling early weapons, uniforms and paintings, including a pair of portraits.
Ann Hall Antique Prints from Sturbridge, Mass., was selling from a tented space in Shelton’s.
Owen Swift, Riverhead, N.Y., left his wife in their tent at Stephen’s Place while he was off shopping early Tuesday. His specialty is early stuffed furniture that he has reupholstered.
Industrial antiques and repurposed furnishings have become a big part of Brimfield in recent years. Perhaps because many such pieces are big, bulky and heavy, they can be found on the fields that are open all week more often than in the short-opening fields. The Meadows had several of these specialists, including Let It Go from Waterford, Penn. One example of the firm’s inventory was a heavy cast iron machine stand with a large round glass top, making it into a high table for a kitchen or bar. In another case, Dennis and Judy Perry from Dudley, Mass., were selling early shoe forms from a shoe making factory.
Sturtevant’s is one of the oldest fields on the street. The front yard of this house has been an exhibit area for more years than most visitors remember. On that lawn Powder Mill Auctions from Deep River, Conn., was offering a collection of early furniture and pewter. The owner, Steve Brennan, was selling both here and at another field during the week.
Dealer’s Choice had most of its regulars in place early Tuesday for its short show that morning. John Wilson was just inside the front gate with a collection found near his Grantham, N.H., home, including an unusual kitchen cupboard — drawers on the top, a sliding tray work space and storage below and spike feet in cherry. He was also showing an attractive jelly cupboard, perhaps refinished in cherry.
Canes were the primary inventory for Jamie and Pat Pearce, Johnstown, N.Y. They have been here for many years and have a regular group of traders for their business, showing the unusual forms of the walking sticks and their handles to collectors.
Another specialist is John Gould, Yorktown Heights, N.Y., with frames. With help from his wife, Liz, John was offering a sampling of his collection of lemon gold frames, as well as some furniture and early American art.
Finish Line Antiques, Campbelltown, Penn., was offering a collection of early painted things. At Dealer’s Choice, owner Stephan Boyer sold a large blue milk painted pie safe with great tins. Also on display was a collection of early game wheels and a gaily painted children’s bench from Pennsylvania.
Brimfield Acres North
Across the street at Brimfield Acres North, the field was buzzing early as the dealers were finishing their setup while also trying to get in some shopping at other fields.
Just inside the gate Robert and Deanna Taylor were showing their collection featuring smalls found near their Aylett, Va., home. There was a small child’s chair, in good early paint and good overall condition, several examples of early lighting and ceramics. Bob was showing an early Majolica bull as well: his description said it was a massive Palissy bull made by Portuguese artist Manuel Cipriano Gomes Mafra circa 1870.
Signs were popular during the week. Otto and Susan Hart of Arlington, Vt., offered a sign that they were showing upside-down, which said Odd Fellows Block; perhaps it was intentional to be upside-down.
Pat Greika, Stafford Springs, Conn., said she has been doing Brimfield Acres North since “the sisters,” Jill and Judy Reed, owned it more than 30 years ago, and never missed a show!
Further into the show, Bud Hughes, New Market, N.H., sold a turn-of-the-century hooked rug. Michael and Claire Higgins, Atlanta dealers, sold their William and Mary period chest of drawers. Virginia and Pat Renschen, Middletown, Conn., were selling silver hollowware.
New England Motel
Marie Doldoorian, show manager of New England Motel, stood with her trademark opening bell in hand at a little before 6 am at the field’s main gate. “Glad to see you’re here again, Ma’am,” said one of the early show attendees dressed against the chill with a red pullover and coffee cup in his hand. At 6 am, the gates opened and eager shoppers streamed onto the field, the beginning of a beautiful late summer day in Brimfield.
As showgoers whizzed by, many on their way to the back of the field, Lynn Ugolini of Images Past, West Springfield, Mass., stood by her inventory of mostly country furniture set up to the left just inside the gate. Among her inventory of antiques and collectibles — she doubles as West Side Auction — was some charming cottage pine, hand stenciled furniture, including a bed stand, circa 1880–1900, lady’s dresser with mirror, lift top blanket chest and turtle top table, along with a Texas marble top washstand from the 1880s with tile insets and a country chair, circa 1940s, with nice turned legs.
Nearby, John and Nancy Kondrek of Dreamland Toys, Sheboygan, Wis., had set up their display, featuring rock and roll memorabilia, posters, pocket watches, advertising and Americana. Highlights included a Coke radio from the late 1940s–early 1950s, all original, Steiff animals and a Rolls Royce hood ornament.
There was some nice Weller and Rookwood pottery available from Todd and Michele Clements, Clements Antiques, Lake Winnipesaukee, N.H., as well as a selection of Hampshire pottery, including a piece formerly in the collection of A. Harold Kendall.
Great vintage couture jewelry was on offer by Pat Frazer of Easton, Conn., and a compelling selection of antique canes had been assembled by Gary Durow, Antique Cane World, Lansing, Mich., the tip of his 3,000-item inventory of gadget gun canes, sword canes, musical, political, doctor, compact, perfume, flask, picnic, microscope, fishing poles and other examples feeding into what he called his “obsessive cane disorder.”
At 9 am, the action shifted across Route 20 and down the road a bit to Heart-O-The Mart, where Pam Moriarty had assembled the late summer crop of dealers for this popular Wednesday show.
And a diverse crop of heirlooms it was, with everything from a humongous pair of Tydol and Texaco gasoline signs set out near the entrance to the show by Kevin’s Coins, Binghamton, N.Y., to an Abercrombie & Fitch plantation chair, circa 1960s, exuding an air of Indonesian indolence at Mod Haus, Boston, to a wonderful carousel horse at Holden Antiques, Naples, Fla., and Sherman, Conn., to a sweet little New England Queen Anne drop leaf table, circa 1740–60, seen at Meade Antiques, Philadelphia.
A Murano glass shade lamp shown by House Cleaners R Us, Atlantic City, N.J., channeled Gina Lollobrigida with a distinctly Modern vibe, while a massive collection of tin buckets with advertising that had been assembled under the field’s pavilion by Jeff Henkel, Pennington, N.J., found a new home, scooped up by another dealer who no doubt intended to make them a centerpiece of his display on another field.
A marine painting by J. Byron Clarke, painted in 1907, had come from north of Utica, N.Y., discovered by a picker for David Zabriskie, Lake Placid, N.Y. Stockton, N.J., antiques dealer Jim Grievo displayed a trio of stoneware, including an E.&L.P. Norton 3-gallon example, an Ottman Bros & Co., 2-gallon crock and an Ottman 4-gallon churn.
“Let the show begin,” said Hertan’s David Lamberto at the stroke of noon. And it did, as he rang the bell outside the show office signaling the moment when dealers could unveil their merchandise to the public.
Almost simultaneously, red sold stickers appeared on a pair of cast stone urns from upstate New York being offered by Kate Alex, Warner, N.H.
As the swarm subsided a bit, the crowd was able in a more leisurely fashion to ponder such treasures as a whimsical turn-of-the-century beekeeper’s hat fashioned from netting and a jaunty straw boater shown by Tommy Thompson, Pembroke, N.H., a pair of Kehoe Indian clubs, also from the turn of the century and weighing 8 pounds each shown by Finish Line Collectibles, Campbelltown, Penn., even a 1920s hydroplane boat being shown by Art Smith of Wells, Maine.
One of the most interesting finds on the field was part of the collection of John Bourne, Pittsford, Vt. The dealer was showing four wooden clamps, probably chestnut and maple, that seemed quite likely to be Shaker-made. The long clamps had been turned into table legs and were supporting a table surface that Bourne had sourced himself to show their probable use. “I think they may have been made to support an even larger table, possibly a quilting table,” said Bourne. Their true use remains a mystery, but the pristine mortise and tenon construction certainly would not be lost on anyone seeking a unique antique from the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing.
Mother Nature played nice Thursday morning as a soaking shower came around 8 am, but by 9 am when the market opened, the skies had cleared. Buyers put down their umbrellas but kept them handy, just in case.
A nice thing about May’s is the loyalty this field engenders from dealers as well as buyers. Like at several other venerable antiques shows, repeat visitors soon learn where their favorite dealers are, and they are usually in the same spaces year after year.
Among the longtime dealers is Images of the Past, Abbeville, S.C., which has been showing here for about 20 years. In short order, Bob Korhn and his helper filed their walled booth with a nice assortment of fine oil paintings while outside, a pair of blackamoor torchieres was attracting interest.
The view looked a bit different outside the dealer’s booth this time around though, as a very large and mature tree was no more. Word was that it had taken a hit during a recent storm. Another change on the field also was the removal of the greenhouse, where a stone foundation was all that remained.
Bakelite and costume jewelry were plentiful at Hollywood & Vine, while Karen Ellsworth, whose specialty is antiques to “beautify, embellish and adorn,” offered several fine examples of antique lighting, and other decorative items.
Another May’s veteran is Kay Baker’s Antiques, Amherst, Mass., who had not only several choice paintings and wall art on offer, but a table laden with tools guaranteed to attract guys and anyone who like to tinker. Spotted were clamps, planes, an ice axe and a measuring device, most priced under $20.
Baker was marking her 110th show at May’s, noting, “May’s is a very good show,” and that she has never missed a show here since she began.
Our Place Antiques, Fairfield, Conn., has been at May’s for a quarter-century and echoed Baker’s comments about doing well here. Standouts in the dealer’s booth included a stoneware jug with cobalt decoration of a bird and a funky Victorian horn chair.
The offerings May’s are always diverse, and this time out ran the gamut from original art by Charles Crombie for The Rules Of Golf to folky-looking foundry patterns and eclectic vintage lighting to a nice tramp art frame, country primitives and a “mod” pair of chairs made up of red rubber tubing.
J&J opened Friday at 8 am to large crowds. While the counting is not always perfectly accurate, according to Judy Mathieu, co-owner with her sister Jill Lukash, “It looked like we had more than last September and that crowd was good!”
The first exhibit is always Nipper’s Choice, Ken Woodbury’s, Keene, N.H., business and collection of early music players; gramophones, phonographs and playing cylinders and flat recordings from about 100 years ago.
Ed Wilson, one of the longest serving exhibitors at this field, brought a collection of early country furniture from his home in Mansfield, Penn. A set of paint decorated chairs, a drop leaf table and a few cupboards were ready for a fresh kitchen.
From Ogdensburg, N.Y., a small corner cupboard was for sale at Bob and Stephanie O’Donoghue’s exhibit. The top of the cornice featured early dime coins, one dated 1957 the other 1861. Only about 5 feet tall, the piece was charming.
Fans and other mechanical antiques were a large portion of the inventory from David and Susan Genereux of Holden, Mass. David finds fans in restored working condition; also for sale were several coin slot gaming machines and some carnival props.
Two Sides of The River, New London, N.H., was selling late Nineteenth Century and early stoneware. Paul Smith, Harlan, Iowa, was selling from his collection of early advertising signs and small household machines. Coffee grinders and pie safes, jelly cupboards and more were moving out from Vintage New England of Canton, Conn.
Fine quality dining room antiques, including silver and dishes, were the inventory for Arlene Kimerling, Ridgefield, Conn. Across the aisle, Quelle Surprise of Gloucester, Mass., was selling early transfer ware, majolica and also many smalls found on shopping trips to England.
Brimfield is three times every year. The dates for 2014 are set as the weeks of May 13, July 8 and September 2, beginning on Tuesday and running through Sunday.