Published: May 29, 2018
Review and Photos by Laura Beach, W.A. Demers, Madelia Hickman Ring and Tom O’Hara
BRIMFIELD, MASS. – Parking spaces were again at a premium during Brimfield’s spring edition, May 8-12, no doubt due to the interminably long winter that the Northeast endured and the pent-up demand to “get outdoors and buy stuff.” As dealers set out their inventory saved up over the winter months, and antiques hunters and gatherers primed themselves with coffee and breakfast sandwiches for the treasure hunt, the fields generally filled up to capacity with exhibitors and their inventories: parking lots were quickly sprouting “Full” signs, and shoppers were scouring the open fields picking through the collections. The following pages showcase a small portion of the bounty that awaited Brimfield faithfuls.
The weather could not have been better for dealers and visitors to the Dealer’s Choice market, which was conducted May 8. Lori Faxon, the owner and manager of the Dealer’s Choice market, said the gate was “right where it always is” in May. Approximately 300 dealers exhibit there, primarily New England dealers but also dealers from throughout the United States and even a couple of international dealers from Paris and Germany. There was great variety in the goods on offer, and dealers and buyers all seemed to be having fun. According to Faxon, many dealers were very happy, either with retail sales or sales to other dealers.
Early birds are in line before dawn at this popular paid field. Marking the start of the Motel’s 33rd year, co-owner Marie Doldoorian rang the ritual bell to signal the command to swing the gates open at 6 am, and eager shoppers swarmed through, many jogging to the far end of the field before methodically working their way back. “It’s a full field with good quality,” remarked Doldoorian as the first of the day’s three major shows that charge admission began.
Some of it squirreled away for the winter, some of it recently acquired at auction or other shows, merchandise was being presented to collectors, interior designers and casual retail shoppers by dealers who were in the mood to sell. Rarely do you hear someone ask for a price on something and then fork over the first ask. Haggling is expected and routine, and usually a quick compromise is reached.
New England Motel features three covered pavilions, and it is here that most of the exhibitors of estate jewelry, fine porcelain, ephemera and textiles can be found.
Textiles, indeed, were a focus at A Classic Touch, Melbourne, Fla., along with quality country wicker. A white Victorian-style settee and lady’s chair had been restored with new cushions made from vintage blue and white ticking and were accompanied by matching filled pillows. A World War II-era hand worked pillow front had been made into a 14-inch-square pillow accented with 1950s ball trim and early French ticking back.
Also in a pavilion with ample space for his display, Richard Lavigne of Knollwood Antiques, Village of Thorndike, Mass., ticked off a number of early sales, including a pair of bronze chairs, a pair of French iron benches, armillary spheres, six planters, two cast iron chairs and a Moorish mirror.
Fresh from the New York Botanical Garden Antiques and Art Fair, Brennan & Mouilleseaux were offering a set of Regency-style chairs, a pair of stone garden seats and a feathery pair of ostrich hanging lamps.
Formal and primitive furniture was again shown by Margaret and Vin Rowan of Fernwood Studio, Mahopac, N.Y. They have been in the same spot at the motel for at least ten years, they said, and are one of the shrinking number of sources for good American country furniture. This time out, among their many furniture pieces was a great Shaker cupboard from the Quattrochi collection.
Also carrying the American country furnishings torch were Patti and Cid Paden and Tom Varney, collectively known as Mapleside Antiques, Titusville, Penn., with a circa 1840 tiger maple deed box, 21-inch-diameter mustard yellow and blue wooden bowls, choppers, a bucket bench, hornbeam piggin and an original pair of Mickey and Minnie Mouse dolls from the 1930s.
After brisk shopping at New England Motel, the lineup begins for Heart-O-The-Mart, just down on Route 20. The show opened at 9 am on Wednesday with an eager crowd of shoppers running onto the field to find their favorite dealer.
Set up here are a number of Barn Star show promoter Frank Gaglio’s regular exhibitors, familiar faces at shows like Antiques at Rhinebeck and others, including Stockton, N.J., dealer Jim Grievo, the Village Braider, Ed and Anita Holden, Jane Wargo, Thomas Longacre and Beverly Weir-Longacre, to name a few, and Gaglio finds this field a great place to do business.
Marlborough, N.H., dealer Tom Longacre made note of an E.B. Norton, Worcester, Mass., 3-gallon stoneware jug, Nineteenth Century, with cobalt blue floral decoration, while wife Beverly stocked plenty of her trademark Christmas decorations.
Jane and Phil Wargo, Wallingford, Conn., were “neighbors” and were showing a hooked rug, dated 1884, a pair of green shutters found on Martha’s Vineyard, a whirligig mill worker and an Eighteenth Century six-board blanket chest, among other items.
May’s Antique Market is a Cadillac of fields, a place to find high-end silver, ceramics, furniture and folk art, along with plenty of playful vintage material. Show manager Martha May insists on quality. Her high standards contributed to a robust gate when May’s Antique Market opened for business on Thursday, May 10. Both entrances to the show were mobbed, and adjacent parking lots were full.
At the stroke of 9 am, the wraps came off all merchandise. Moments later, Wyben Hills Antiques sold a pair of swivel-seat soda parlor chairs to a couple from Italy. Shoppers from Europe and Asia combed the fields. A Paris dealer sold colorful costume jewelry in a stand shared with colleagues from New York. Many dealers made the long trip from Southern and Western states to attend the first, and some say most important, May’s Antique Market of the year. The Silver Butlers of Philadelphia even sold out of its stands.
“Our numbers were up, and people were spending money on quality items,” May said. Everyone was pleased to see younger buyers out in force.
For her July 12-14 show, May is adding contemporary fine art. “It’s a great opportunity for artists to avoid gallery fees,” explained the manager. She wants to keep the emphasis on antiques, but, in addition to fine art, will consider studio craft by recognized artisans.
Gorgeous weather blessed the first two days of May’s Antique Market. When the rain came on Saturday afternoon, most folks had happily already gotten what they came for.
Friday’s opening is now Brimfield Auction Acres, the former J&J Promotions. The new name pays homage to Brimfield’s founder, Gordon Reid, although this field now has new owners, Kathleen and Rusty Corriveau, who are giving it a fresh start. This May show, the second year for them, saw a big increase in the number of exhibitors, adding two more rows of dealers to the show. While the show could not be called “full” – this field has a capacity of more than 700 booth spaces – it was exciting to the shoppers who believed they were really getting their money’s worth for the admission fee with the larger number of dealers in residence for two or three days.
The field has indeed become big again, with all kinds of antiques available for avid collectors and decorators. Early the first morning, shoppers looking for small objects were drawn into Sue Fogg’s tent where the Charleton, N.Y., dealer was selling an assortment of silver whatnots, Nineteenth Century porcelain transferware and some small furniture and decorative accessories.
Two Maryland friends sharing space in a big tent again were both selling as well from the get-go. Baltimore Auctioneer Glenn Freeman had his showcases filled with unusual small silver pieces for the home, with sales that quickly developed for muffineers, tea strainers, patch boxes and much more. His pal from nearby Abingdon, antiques show promoter Billy Thomas, trades in late Nineteenth Century and early Twentieth Century glass.
A couple of Pennsylvania men shared space with their silver, too. David Sterner, Philadelphia, was showing his collection of hollowware, while Henry Mitchell, Jenkinstown, was offering predominantly small pieces and flatware.
McElwain, is Doug and Diane McElwain, Goldsboro, N.C., who are focused on sports and textile-related antiques, but their specialty areas don’t stop them from going after something like Outsider art that will attract a lot of attention. This time there was a giant polychrome parrot, at least 6 feet tall, painted on wood, and ready to be a prop somewhere again.
Furniture was everywhere at the show. Two Sides of the River is Michael Pheffer from New London, N.H., with Nineteenth Century furniture. He set up in a huge tent with PDL Auctions co-owner Lou Black, who is from Mechanic Falls, Maine. Lou’s area looked like he was preparing for an auction, just unloading two truckloads of everything. A half hour into the show, he was too busy selling to have any conversation; great day!
Antique Rescue, Leesburg, Va., is two Fairfax, Va., firemen who take vintage car and truck parts and make “man cave ” furniture out of them. For example, the tailgates of Ford and Chevrolet pickups were the backs of benches, while a Jeep grill was the face of a bar; pretty cool for the “wreck room,” they said.
On the other hand, Patricia Ann Breame had some of the most feminine decorative accessories. This Woodstock, Maine, dealer brought a variety of 100-year-old quilts and coverlets, all in excellent condition, sewing accessories and even an early spinning wheel.
The Corriveaus are also creating a wine garden in Gordon Reid’s former barn, which, for now, is open only during the Brimfield week. The wines are made by them from California grapes, four or five varieties and only available at their barn.
While weather for most of the week was pleasant, Saturday’s was anything but. That might normally have been a deterrent, but in fact there were still traffic jams in spite of rain most of the day. The rain began shortly after 10 am, with parking lots full, and never really stopped, sometimes heavy, sometimes light, but the shopping just continued unabated until late afternoon. Sunday was overcast and cool. Crowds again were there, shopping those dealers who had remained set up. It should be noted that many fields, including Hertan’s, while they open earlier in the week, fill vacancies on Saturday and Sunday with fresh dealers, many of whom have weekday jobs but still want to join in on the Brimfield experience.
Brimfield is three times each year, with the next session the week of July 10-15 and the final on Labor Day week, September 4-9.
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