Published: September 15, 2015
Review and Photos By Tom O’Hara, Andrea Valluzzo and Laura Beach
BRIMFIELD, MASS. — The week after Labor Day was rife with returns — summer vacationers back to the daily commute, school children back to their classrooms and collectors back to the Brimfield Antiques Market for one last pass this season through the 20-plus fields of vendors. The week opened hot and steamy and finished on a more comfortable note for shoppers. Brimfielders, however, are an intrepid bunch, so the weather did not take the starch out of the buying action early on each of the show days. Anxious to find the best deals in spite of record-breaking heat, buyers surged onto the fields in search of the elusive item or deal.
The photos on this page and the following pages showcase some of the harvesting that took place September 8–12.
Tuesday’s openings were well stocked with popular and trendy merchandise, especially folk art and early Twentieth Century furniture.
William Lorne, a dealer from Manchester Conn., who holds court right on Main Street at Quaker Acres, was busy with his collection of Nineteenth Century transfer ware. He also sold a complete set of early Twentieth Century wicker early in the week. On that same field, NBC Tools from Worcester, Mass., was busy with a collection of carpenter’s planes, several hundred total, along with a great variety of other tools.
Central Park has become popular with many exhibitors of early American country furniture and accessories. When Pigs Fly, Rehoboth, Mass., by late Tuesday morning was off to a great start, selling several pieces, including two cupboards. Bob Moser, the Clock Man from East Windsor, Conn., offered a collection of Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century clocks with emphasis on Connecticut-made examples.
Magoun Bros brought the firm’s typical collection to Faxon’s Midway from its South Paris, Maine, home. It included an assortment of antique canoes, snowshoes, fishing tackle and, of course, early New England furniture.
The Meadows featured several dealers with Midcentury Modern and other later collections. Nomadic Trading, a Durham, N.C., exhibitor, was pleased with the first day results in industrial and repurposed materials. The firm was also selling a large selection of early Twentieth Century industrial lighting.
Folk art sold well at Dealer’s Choice. Campbelltown, Penn., exhibitor Stephan Boyer, trading as Finish Line Collectibles, reported one of his best Septembers at the field. His collection featured paraphernalia from carnivals, country fairs and circuses; all gathered from games, signs and parts of rides that he could find. Muriel Knutson, Thomaston, Maine, was in her usual place in the pavilion with her silver collection selling very well.
Brimfield Acres North across the street with its 1 pm opening was ready long before the starting bell, with many of the regular dealers in their favorite places. Pat Greika, Stafford, Conn., has been on the same field since the very first — she said she was not sure if that was 1991 or 1992 — and all three shows every year. She did admit that it has become harder to replenish her inventory, but she does seem to manage, for her collection is always great. She had small things from the Nineteenth Century for the desk or sewing table, dollhouse or kitchen, and was selling them at prices popular with the customers. Bradford Brandon, Lisbon Falls, Maine, was nearby with a collection of industrial props from 100–150 years ago. Tom Pirozzoli, Goshen, N.H., began selling as soon as he unloaded, including an Eighteenth Century New Hampshire cupboard and a mail sorting wall box.
At Green Acres, Greg Hamilton reported that he had a great start. His business in the Vermont Tent is Stone Block Antiques, and for the day he sold so much furniture he joked about going home for more.
Shoppers braved the heat to hit the three markets that opened Wednesday morning, arming themselves with bottles of water and light-colored umbrellas. The day started at New England Motel, and although crowds were a bit thinner than in May, a decent-size crowd gathered at the gate of Heart-O-The Mart waiting to be let in.
By the time Hertan’s officially opened at noon, some shoppers were already in booths inspecting merchandise or buying. With temperatures hovering near 90 degrees, buyers were in no mood to wait. Bargains and buys lurked around every corner for the persistent shopper.
Midcentury Modern was showcased at several booths, including Twentieth Century by HFKA at Heart-O-The Mart, particularly paintings. In a pavilion at New England Motel, Vine of Time filled its 30-foot booth with the dealer’s largest inventory at Brimfield. The dealer brought Wedgwood, art glass, Weller pottery, cranberry glass and much more. A few booths over, dealer Billy Neville was chatting away with customers while a small crowd grew waiting for their turn. His grouping of 1970s store mannequins of young men was attracting lots of attention. At Hertan’s, Americana was plentiful at Tommy Thompson and Cathy Consentino’s booth, as well as several others.
A time for hellos, goodbyes and don’t forgets, September at Brimfield has its own rhythm. The fields are less crowded, the parking less competitive and, for all the frenetic shopping, conversations are a tad more leisurely.
Early Thursday morning, vans and trucks were pulling onto May’s large field at the heart of the Brimfield markets. Under a blue canopy, the crew at Chelsea Hill Antiques relaxed over coffee, waiting for the signal to unpack.
By 8:30 am, shoppers queued restlessly on either side of May’s wide gates and along the opposite side of the road. At the stroke of 9 am, buyers streamed in, engulfing the field within minutes. Thunderstorms threatened, but exhibitors, loyal to this well-managed field, remained philosophical.
“If the rain holds off for a few hours, we’ll be fine,” said Ashby, Mass., dealer Martha Perkins, spreading a selection of blue and white Staffordshire out on a long table.
George Korn and Thomas Livingston of Forager House in Nantucket, Mass., and Key West, Fla., unloaded mechanical toys and posters, their schnauzers, Fritz and Frieda, at their sides.
“They get so much attention that we joke that we should start a ‘rent-a-pet’ business,” said Korn, unpacking a circus toy, $1,200, whose elaborate whimsy recalled the genius of Alexander Calder.
Andrew Jacobson, who commuted to the fields for three days from Ipswich, Mass. — a practice he jokingly called “brutal, brutal and extra brutal” — sidestepped the weather altogether, arraying marine antiques, his specialty, in the back of his sports utility vehicle. A highlight of his capsule presentation was a half-hull model by Spaulding Dunbar of a sloop with a double centerboard, a feature for which the Chatham, Mass., yacht designer was known.
The back of Michael Nadeau’s large truck housed a 1906 elephant carousel figure from Asbury Park, N.J. The Rhode Island dealer said the carved and painted figure was by Herschell-Spillman.
Nearby, Lancaster, Penn., dealer Steve Smoot offered a pair of iron urns cast by England’s Handyside Foundry.
Worcester, Mass., dealer Bill Union featured among his extensive inventory of paintings a dated 1910 portrait of a ship of the Old Dominion Steamship Line by Antonio Jacobsen.
And Martha Perkins got her wish. The threatened thunderstorms held off long off for another successful opening at May’s Antique Market.
J&J Promotions got a break with the weather as overnight rains ended before sunrise. So while there were puddles and mud and some wet places in a few leaky tents, the prospects for the day were not as gloomy as they had been forecast earlier in the week. In fact, by Thursday forecasters had been saying the weather would be good for The Sisters’ Show, as old-timers like to call it, so the opening audience was good as well.
William Nickerson Antiques, Brewster, Mass., began the morning with several pieces of Eighteenth Century furniture selling quickly. Sage Antiques, Monroe, N.J., did the same, but with folk art.
Higganum House Antiques, Higganum, Conn., was busy that morning with setup and also selling from a collection of smalls. Neil Blodgett, the merchant, has been collecting, as he says, “ forever,” and if it is interesting and small, he either probably has it or probably can find it.
Sandmark Antiques brought furniture from the Sudbury, Vt., area. The Hutchins collect and trade in early Nineteenth Century farm house furnishings and sometimes even farm tools as décor items.
The end of the week this September saw unusually strong activity late Friday, all day Saturday and even Sunday. J&J reported a full parking lot on Saturday, as did the parking lot across from Mays, which was a pleasant surprise to exhibiting dealers, and on Sunday in the early afternoon, while the lots were not full, there were very good crowds and many dealers still in place with their merchandise.
In 2016, the Brimfield markets will return May 10–15, July 12–17 and September 6–11. Most fields have their own contacts and websites and can be found with a web search.
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