Published: April 3, 2018
Review and Photos by Greg Smith
NEW MILFORD, CONN. – The thermometer read 30 degrees outside, but that did not stop buyers and sellers from pouring into the opening day of the Elephant’s Trunk flea market March 25. Occasional and scattered snow flurries slowly fell from the sky on a field that was brimming with enthusiasm, a lineup of dealers who had been accumulating inventory all winter long, yearning for the day they could sell it to the public. Antiques from all walks of life were on view: industrial, country, Americana, toys, glass, architectural elements, advertising, coins, ephemera, Midcentury Modern, bicycles and more.
The market has been a running mainstay in the Connecticut antiques calendar for decades, drawing collectors, dealers and buyers from hundreds of miles in every direction to New Milford every Sunday. For the past four years, manager Chris Novello has worked to make the Elephant’s Trunk a more inviting place. Novello’s efforts have focused on making it more of an attraction: adding a picnic area and cleaner restrooms, bringing in a wider selection of dealers and food vendors and encouraging families to come out and experience the excitement of the flea market.
“We’re extremely grateful for all the vendors and patrons,” Novello said. “Today is a fantastic day and we’re excited to be open again.”
Late March Nor’easters had pounded the area for a few weeks prior, but the field was hard and dry on the morning of the opening.
“We had about an inch of snow on the ground Thursday morning,” Novello said. “I watched it melt in an hour and I knew we’d be open.”
And with that, the word was out and the hearty New England patrons responded to the call. About half of the available vendor spaces were filled, leaving the faithful and determined dealers to benefit.
Mark Stolfe, New Paltz, N.Y., is a regular dealer at the market, selling Asian and eclectic smalls from his tables and showcases. He had small jades, snuff bottles, sterling silver jewelry and more. “I did very well today, it’s a small field, and I always bring fresh stuff,” he said. “I probably sold a third of what I brought.”
Midcentury Modern dealer Irvine, Westchester County, N.Y., brought in tow a selection of Italian pottery by Bitossi, Fantoni, Raymor and others. He clutched his warm coffee in his hands as interested buyers looked through his selection of 1960s lighting, which included a Lucite rod chandelier, a pair of Lucite and brass table lamps with mica shades and an orange enameled lamp in near mint condition.
Peter Vine, Pound Ridge, N.Y., brought a selection of industrial, advertising, fine art and satsuma. Vine featured a 3-foot-diameter gilt and blue clock face against his van, in front of a selection of clocks, lamps and other Asian and oriental antiques.
A couple of two-wheelers were on show at Antique Mechanicals, Fairfield, Conn. The dealer is a bicycle specialist and featured a 1918 Iver Johnson as well as a 1950s moped. Out on the tables in front was a Torrington Ice Company child’s wagon and a set of Ives trains. “I like to bring mechanical types of things,” the dealer said. “They’ve got a cool look.”
Dan Armstrong, Brewster, N.Y., brought with him an assortment of antique hood ornaments. Armstrong is a passionate collector in this area, which he considers a form of sculpture. “What’s interesting about this one,” he said, pointing to a flying lady hood ornament that was made for a Packard car in 1935, “is that, I believe Packard introduced the flying lady on the 120 because they were getting so many complaints. The car was unbelievably cheap, only $1,000, but the advertisement showed the hood ornament and the standard model did not have it. It was $10 extra. But they got so many complaints that they added it.”
Even at our 7 am arrival, early buyers could be seen leaving the field with their purchases under their arms. As buyers would leave, more would pour through the gate, ready to comb through the field that never sleeps, digging up an endless supply of treasure.
The Elephant’s Trunk Flea Market is open, weather permitting, every Sunday through mid-December. For more information, www.etflea.com or 860-355-1448.
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