Published: October 10, 2006
Brimfield was again filled with great finds for the third of its annual weeklong markets, September 5–10. This late summer pilgrimage by antiques dealers, collectors, decorators and homeowners was gifted with good weather for the week and the reward was great antiques found and added to inventories and collections.
Brimfield happens three times each year, May, July and for the year’s final event, September, with the results at this last gathering the strongest in numbers of dealers and visitors participating. According to the promoters and lot owners, there were excellent sales reported by exhibiting dealers. Fields of dealers were filled to the largest numbers of booth spaces in recent years and while the totals for visitors were not new records, there were more counted than in most recent years. According to Judy Mathieu of J&J, “We were extremely pleased with the totals we had, the field was the best for September in several years and Friday’s customer totals were good.”
Tim May has the big parking lot next to J&J’s and across from his family’s exhibition field. May’s Antiques Market and has been a gauge for the activity based on how quickly his parking lot fills. He said the lot was “doing the best for September in [several years]. The crowds were tremendous especially on the weekend.”
People were there for the great antiques and also for the values. Dealers bought for resale and others came knowing this was the place to find something special for their home or collection that might just be that topper, the best piece yet in their display.
Early in the week at Green Acres there was the regular gathering of the Vermont dealers in the place known as the Vermont Tent, an exhibit shared by several dealers who do most of their selling right there. Greg Hamilton was touting an American, probably New England-made, flip top game table in veneered mahogany and other inlays that he found only a day before the Tuesday start of his market. Even though the price was in the thousands, this Vergennes, Vt., dealer was sure it was an excellent value for its condition and attribution; early in the week someone else agreed and made a new home for it.
Carl Poplawski, Burlington, Vt., was offering a giant of a bookcase. Found in Vermont, he said it was Hepplewhite period and probably American, with original glass and hardware all in excellent condition. Stone Block Antiques also from Vergennes was showing a large assemblage of stoneware and Pittsfield, Vt., dealer Michael Seward had a grouping of Vermont items including an oil on canvas portrait.
There were interesting things all over the half-mile of Brimfield early in the week. At Sturtevant’s market, Jeff Pearson, an auctioneer and dealer from Stonington, Conn., was showing several items that will be offered at an upcoming October auction. An electric car from a carnival ride near Hartford was there in pretty good condition, nearly ready to use minus only an electric motor, which Pearson said was easily replaceable; also shown was a very early corner cupboard that had probably been a built-in in its early life. Just across the aisle, Bert Ouellette from Washington Depot, Conn., was selling a very early child’s toy express wagon in all its original form and paint decoration. The long arm of the handle appeared to be the original in spite of the tendency for handles to be broken since there was paint detailing on it as well.
Next door in Mahogany Ridge was an early hurdy-gurdy, a musical instrument that was operated by cranking the cylinder that had a music track and would sound like a high pitched piano. Michael Keene, the selling dealer from Taunton, Mass., also had a collection of early Victorian furniture in the tent.
Quaker Acres is about the middle of the Brimfield action, on the north side of Main Street, Route 20, with a loyal group of exhibitors, most of whom have been there for many years. From Clarksville, Va., 2 Hats is among that faithful group, setting up its inventory of Nineteenth Century transfer ware in an oversized tent just on the side of the road. The offerings are so vast many customers are regulars, coming to build or add on to their collections of fancy dining table service.
At the western end of the show areas are Faxon’s, Dealer’s Choice and Brimfield Acres North. Dealer’s Choice was ready for its 11 am opening with dealers such as North River Auction Gallery, Saugerties, N.Y., showing a large collection of Nineteenth Century and earlier Continental furniture. John Melby, Sunapee, N.H., and soon with a new home in Maine, had a collection of students’ desks in the center of his tent. Made of pine, they were destined to go to new homes by the end of the first day. Jamie Pearce, Cazenovia, N.Y., was selling from his collection of early walking sticks and canes.
Colleen James, the manager of Brimfield Acres North, was very pleased with their field at this most recent gathering, which was one of the strongest. Dennis Robida sold a set of Bergen County, N.J., chairs; Art Bennett, Waitsfield, Vt., was offering a complete tea service in old Sheffield plate and auctioneer dealer Dave Straight, Sturbridge, Mass., was selling a little of everything, mostly with a country look. Michael Higgins is an American who lives most of the year in Brussels, Belgium, with his wife. They collect Chinese Export and some other Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century porcelain. Early Tuesday he was pleased with his find of a gravy boat for its rarity, condition and value. Gerry Slack, Saco, Maine, was exhibiting in what he said was the smallest tent on the street, and his exhibit was all small objects, mainly dishes of some rarity and excellence.
Wednesdays at Brimfield are unique with three big fields opening that day. The first of the day was New England Motel at 6 am. To many this is known as the furniture field for there is an abundance of dealers ready to fill the customers’ homes. John Kelly, Birmingham, Mich., is one such dealer. Another, Betty and Bob Daigle, Country Squire Antiques of Seekonk, Mass., was there for the balance of the week in an oversize tent selling shabby chic, country and early Victorian furniture. There are several buildings on the site without sides where dealers and their antiques can be protected from the weather. Rowfant Antiques, Charlton, Mass., was offering fine china and silver service, ready for a formal banquet.
Heart-O-The-Mart opened at its usual time, 9 sharp, with a great rush from the waiting crowd. Dealers here are in for the day, some stayed longer than Wednesday, but the field definitely does much of its business in the first few hours after its opening. Geoff Jackson, an Englishman now living in Stewartstown, Penn., was offering English porcelain his son Kester buys in England.
Chris English came in from Florida with his dishes, clocks and the valentine shell boxes. Another dealer at the show was Darwin Bearsley who very recently wrote a book on American quilts, copies of which were for sale at this show. He was offering an early primitive fiddle he had acquired very recently, but fortunately for his temporary neighbors he did not have the bow to try playing it.
David Lamberto began Hertan’s with the traditional bell ringing at noon Wednesday. Started by Jeannie Hertan many years ago and purchased by Lamberto about 15 years ago, this field has been the stomping grounds for many of the same dealers for a very long time. Margaret Jones, Montrose, Penn., was there with help from her daughter Barbara in their customary tent under the trees. Margaret had a collection of knife cleaning boxes; made to sit on a counter or table top, there was a reservoir or trough for sand and a stop for the knife to be drawn over to clean it while not damaging the cutting edge. Last July she had a most unusual nutmeg grater that was sold to a Baltimore collector.
Jim Biondi, Portland, Maine, was selling furniture as fast as he could take it off the truck. There was a sawbuck table, one board top, all forged nails and rough sawn and planed base; a country worktable and many more furniture and decorative pieces finding new owners. Buckingham Antiques comes to this show faithfully each time from Burleson, Texas, with early country furniture and while here the proprietors also do a great deal of buying for their collection.
This is a long week for many antiques collectors but they seem to never tire out. On Thursday, when May’s Antiques Market opened, there were many hundreds waiting for the chance to get in first for the buying. Steve Cirillo was in the space that has become his regular short-term shop, offering a collection of what he calls “high country” furniture. These are pieces with evidence of good skill and craftsmanship in the construction and are in very good condition — ready for the home.
Next to him is Hand Picked from Stowe, Vt., with painted furniture and vintage textile items. Annette Coletti favors interesting, one-of-a-kind hooked mats and rugs. Harry Hepburn is well known for his clocks and the repair business he maintains at home in Harrison, Maine. Here he also had an early iron lighting device that was a tabletop rush and candle light in excellent condition. George Browning, East Swanzey, N.H., brought some of his collection of stoneware; Monkton Mill Antiques, Easton, Md., had a Maryland corner cupboard in cherry and Lancaster, Penn., dealer Steve Smoot offered a collection of early American pottery.
The last show to open each Brimfield week is always the original show of the markets, J&J’s. Named for its owners, Jill Lukash and Judy Mathieu, it is also known as The Sisters, because they are; and now Judy’s two daughters are also part of the full-time staff. With nearly 700 dealers driving into the field Thursday evening and opening Friday at 6 am, this is the one that started all of the Brimfield markets.
Here, Linda Schram, New Milford, Conn., offered a theatrical collar with provenance from the 1920s and the program of the opera in which it was used. There, was a pocket nutmeg grater offered by Virginia Newell, Naugatuck, Conn., a handy metal device to keep the nutmeg and also grind it when needed.
Pink Swan Antiques, West Yarmouth, Mass., was offering some Peter Hunt paint decorated furniture and a good looking early sawbuck table with early ladder back chairs. The McElwains, Doug and Diane from Goldsboro, N.C., had sporting antiques and early collectables. A valance made for the White House by Scalamandré was offered by LooLoo Design, Portsmouth, R.I.
Furniture, mostly from New England and very early, was selling well for many dealers. Pete Lukash, husband to Jill of J&J, has been an exhibitor for as long as the sisters have been managing the field. Michelle Genereux, Kingston, N.H., sold a New Hampshire Chippendale chest of drawers in great condition to another dealer, who only had the piece for 48 hours before it found another home. Michael and Monique Rouillard, Plainfield, Conn., collect for themselves and their inventory, but they both have full-time jobs. For that reason this was one of the few selling venues for their collection of early primitives and painted furniture.
The conclusion of the week was Saturday and Sunday with business “right up to the end,” reported Bob Daigle. As he was packing the truck Sunday afternoon he had to remove two pieces of furniture for a returning customer to take home. Tim May added the parking lot stayed full as well.
They and all the others will be expected next spring when it all starts over again. Brimfield’s dates for 2007 are May 8–13; July 10–15 and September 4–9. For information, www.brimfieldexchange.com.
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