Published: July 31, 2007
As has become the “norm,” and as witnessed once again July 10‱4, the summer session of Brimfield was somewhat reduced in scope when compared to the May and September shows. The sheer number of vendors is down, as is the overall attendance.
Many of the exhibitors and shoppers have problems tolerating the heat that is often associated with the summertime event, others simply prefer to be elsewhere and many only want to exhibit or shop Brimfield twice a year. Whatever their reasons, those that do make the trip to the July Brimfield shows revel in absence of the masses †”I absolutely love it,” stated one seasoned seller/shopper. “There are fewer people to compete with and I can buy like crazy.”
As in past years, Tuesday openings in Brimfield were met with enthusiasm and excitement, which, coupled with good weather, kept spirits high throughout the week.
Several shows opened at “daybreak” on Tuesday, including Collins Apple Barn, Crystal Brook, Mahogany Ridge, Quaker Acres, Shelton Antiques Shows and Sturtevant’s. Opening at 6 am were Central Park, Stephen’s Place, Green Acres and The Meadows, while Faxon’s Midway and Brimfield Barn Antiques Market opened at 7. At the western end of town, things got going later in the morning, with an 11 am opening at Dealer’s Choice, and the final event to open for the day, just across the street, Brimfield Acres North at 1 pm.
Daybreak found Mahogany Ridge and Sturtevant’s busy with dealers setting up as others looked on, waiting for that perfect something they had come to Brimfield to find. In typical Brimfield fashion, if a dealer was set up but not around, neighbors were more than willing to help out. That was true at Melanie and Jim Thomas’s where they were showing an old crock with blue incised decoration, as well as other primitive items brought from Pittsburgh, Penn.
Shaffi, of D&M Antiques, encouraged people to wait for the Thomases: “They’ll be right back, they just went to look around,” he would say. The Providence, R.I., dealer has been coming to Brimfield for years, and he likes the more casual attitude of Brimfield in July. “It is more relaxed than the spring or fall, and that’s saying quite a lot!” He was showing a Nineteenth Century bride’s basket from Meriden, Conn., with a silver plated base and art glass bowl in a vibrant dark peach. He also had an 1860s walnut side board with a marble top and an 1850s walnut bookcase.
Just down the aisle, Dan Dragon offered a collection of subminiature cameras. Dragon, an Old Bridge, N.J., dealer, was especially pleased with a Gem Flex from occupied Japan, which had two lenses and a leather case, complete with strap, and was about 4 inches high. A Minox was reminiscent of the James Bond spy camera from the early 1960s.
By merely walking a few paces, buyers move from Mahogany Ridge into Sturtevant’s field, where some heavy iron gates, with intricate scrolls and designs, could be seen at Olde Good Things from New York City. Heraldine Rannels and Kathy Ditton also brought a pair of iron and wire cupolas from the Bronx House of Detention.
Pam Konopka and Mimi Swaney finished setting up their Let’s Talk Turkey display from Greensboro, Md. Showing all things turkey, they had Johnson Bros turkey plates from 1951 to 1957, Staffordshire from 1860 to 1880 and a wonderful Royal Dalton Flow Blue plate with two authentic looking wild turkeys.
Moving west along Route 20, the sun on your back, was Central Park, where Shahady’s Antiques had a crowd eagerly watching as they unloaded the truck with a multidrawer chest, wicker and old wrought iron. Inside the truck, far too delicate and valuable to bring outside, was a circa 1820 Wadsworths & Turners clock from Litchfield, Conn., with original wooden works, a handpainted scene on the glass front and a lovely carved eagle forming the top. Talking to the Bridgeport, W.Va., dealers later in the day, they said it was the best clock they had ever sold, and they had sold it first thing Tuesday morning.
Another Southern dealer, from Franklin, N.C., Ann Goss had a mint-in-box, circa 1900, Homer Cox Brownie nodder. With hands tucked casually in its pockets, the nodder sported light blue pants, yellow vest, red jacket, huge blue eyes and a jaunty white hat with red stripes. Right next to the nodder was a French prisoner of war grass box. Made in the late 1700s, Goss said, it had an intricate interior, slightly raised lid and detailed woven design.
Also showing at Central Park field, Leo Goudreau said he comes to all three editions of Brimfield from Ware, Mass. He shows bottles †old, beautiful, colorful early American †and early glass. One especially interesting bottle was an 1860 Dr Townsend sarsaparilla in dark, sea green glass with an iron pontil.
Allan Jung, Lexington, N.C., was on hand with Wyandotte toy trucks, an 1920s tow truck and a Keystone fire truck with original ladders. Anthony Rosa came from Beacon, N.Y., with fine modern art, including a Rauschenberg print, an original oil by Leon Dabo painted in 1954, six years before this American Tonalist painter died. Rosa also had a pair of Ed Wormley Dunbar, 1967, mahogany and orange leather chairs set up along the road where he could sit and watch the parade of customers rushing from one field to the next.
Faxon’s opened at 7 am and dealers there seemed happy to be set up for the duration of the week. The Magoun Bros, from Paris, Maine, had a large set up in the center of the field where they were showing everything from a two-piece French chest, circa 1880, which John said he had bought in Nashville, from a dealer who bought it in Texas. The “Bros,” who are not really related, also had a woodworker’s chest, wooden lobster boat weathervane, canoes and paddles.
Livio Cillo was under a large pavilionlike tent and offered a collection of rifles and a small carbine type of Revolutionary War gun that had been carried by Anthony Wayne’s infantry. He also was showing a meteorite that was about 13 inches long and weighed 52 pounds. It was accompanied by a letter from the Smithsonian documenting its authenticity, and when and where it was recovered.
Brimfield Barn, the most permanent-looking structure along the Route 20 strip, features several dealers indoors that set up the week before the market begins and they stay there for the whole show. James S. Dolph had his usual offerings of ancient Chinese and Oriental sculptures. The Durham, N.H., dealer, who trades under the name JSD Antiques, had a Neolithic god from the Han dynasty, 206 BC′20 AD, a horned turtle lion in white jade for $7,300 and an Eighteenth Century soapstone red-brown Lohan with a dragon.
In the front corner of the barn, staying cool with fans blowing, Kathy Tarr from Wenham, Mass., had several KPM plaques. One plaque, from the 1880s, showed a woman’s face in profile and was most likely painted by Wagner, Tarr thought, but was unsigned.
As the morning began to heat up, with a full sun blazing overhead, crowds began making their way down to the highly anticipated openings at Dealer’s Choice and Brimfield Acres North.
As heat waves shimmered off the open fields at Dealer’s Choice, the preopening crowd was skirting the fence on the perimeter of the field, where many dealers were setting up under the cover of shade provided by some trees. In the middle of the field, seemingly undisturbed by the heat, Shi & Erhard, from West Palm Beach, Fla., was pulling out large pieces of furniture. A French, three-board farm table that was at least 12 feet in length was set up and smalls, decorative pieces and wrought iron hanging lamps followed.
Allan Soll, from Canaan, Maine, was arranging a bird’s-eye maple chervil glass mirror and iron andirons but stopped to talk with Bob Withington, York, Maine, who was visiting the field.
Toward the back of the field are some more permanent tents in a pavilionlike area. Enjoying the shade were Jan and Jon Maggs from Conway, Mass., whose elegant setup included Continental stoneware from the Seventeenth Century and horn beakers from the Eighteenth. Nineteenth Century furniture and carvings were at a booth being shared by Harold Miller, Reunion, Fla., and Steven Hill, Newport, R.I. A large pine Canadian two-part cupboard was attracting many admiring glances and one very serious buyer who was inspecting the 1830s piece. “There is one small area with some problems,” Hill pointed out, “but the rest is in amazing condition.”
Across the way, Doris Ellenbogen also came from West Palm Beach, Fla., with a collection of old medical equipment and scientific slides, as well as some ceramic pieces. Next to her, Aleta and Harvey Weinstein from New York City had a weathervane in original surface, an 18-inch Handel shade on a Chinese vase lamp, a Pairpoint lamp and a three-light Lily lamp by Tiffany.
James McNamara of Yankee Doodles Fine Art and Antiques was showing two large pond boats he had just found in a Long Island barn. “They came out of the barn just as they are [in almost pristine condition] with about a half-inch layer of dust,” the Setauket, N.Y., dealer said. He was also showing a fascinating presentation piece, given to Jay Gould on November 16, 1879, to commemorate the completion of the cross ocean pipeline for telegraph cables. In a large wooden box were all the different sized drill covers of gutta-percha used to reach the depths of the Atlantic.
As midday approached, the crowds began to thin, many driven into the shade to rest before Brimfield Acres North opened. “We have sun screen and umbrellas, if anyone needs them,” offered one of the James family, who runs the field. They were needed.
Those who ventured onto the field were in for a treat. In the barn at Brimfield Acres North were several dealers, such as Barbara Ladd from Mansfield Center, Conn., who has been coming to Brimfield since the beginning, almost 50 years. She was showing a pair of architectural mantel pieces made of hand painted metal surrounding ceramic tiles. Also longtime Brimfield Acres North dealers, Bob and Lola Moffatt came from Auburn, Mass., with a case filled with gold presentation items, such as tokens and medals and, their trademark, old coins. Joy Wemyss had her “French ware.” Set on a series of shelves were Vallauris, Quimper and Lunéville dishes brought from Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.
Dealers who have expensive, small items in their collection often do not want to mention exactly where they live. That was true of Emily Stein, who was showing a collection of signed Tiffany, Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels fine jewelry. The Massachusetts dealer showed a large French Tiffany pin, a turquoise and 18K gold pin by Tiffany, as well as a circa 1960s necklace by Cartier.
Directly across from Stein, with a cross-eyed stare, was a large, stuffed cougar that, the Hudson, N.Y., dealer was quick to say, “died from natural causes after a long and well cared for life at the Flag Acres Zoo, in Hoosick Falls, N.Y.”
Joe Collins, Cobalt, Conn., brought a selection of art including a sea captain’s sampler from 1697, an illustration by Thomas K. Hanna and an 1840 portrait of a women.
At Riverside Antiques, Charles W. Hedge was showing an eclectic mixture of a onyx French mantel clock, a Waltham’s ship’s clock from a submarine, a Rookwood pottery lamp from the 1940s or 50s and a flying Yankee toy boat with clockwork mechanism. He also had a vintage poster or trade sign and a baccarat paperweight.
Gary Forzese from Essex, Mass., displayed art glass and lamps as well as a Tiffany desk set with abalone blotters, and a stunning Handel lamp with the sunset palm shade. Three Steuben art glass shades could also be purchased, as could some Tiffany bronze candlesticks.
Despite the heat, several fireplace fenders were still attracting much attention. One, at Bruce D. Horton Antiques, was an 1860s Italian fender with bronze figures at either end; Mark Hall of Schnecksville, Penn., was studying it intently. Paul Saccocia, Bridgewater, Mass., had a Victorian fender, English from around 1865‷0, with an iron back, that was also catching many people’s attention.
At Sage Antiques, from Yonkers, N.Y., mixed in with vintage leather riding boots and primitive Americana was a striking polychrome horse jumping over a fence. From Pennsylvania, circa 1860‹0, the huntsman was dressed in the classic red jacket, the field under the fence was sprouting horse hair bushes and the jumping horse had real horse hair mane and tail. A longtime client showed up to inspect the piece, magnifying glass in hand; he was clearly enjoying the process.
After Tuesday’s brutal heat and humidity, shoppers lining up early on Wednesday morning outside the gates of New England Motel were thankful for overcast skies and more comfortable temperatures. Owner and manager Marie Doldoorian admitted a small but enthusiastic crowd onto the field at 6 am to the ritual accompaniment of the cowbell supplied by “Uncle Meanie,” aka dealer Richard Larose from Norton, Mass. The dealer count was “typical for July,” said Doldoorian. “We’ve got enthusiastic dealers and the pavilions are great for shopping any time,” she said.
As the crowd fanned out into the field, Martin Landey and Andrew Ruggiano from Quincy, Mass., were putting the finishing touches on their display of entertainment and novelty collectibles, which Ruggiano offers under the aegis of New England Nonsense. Beneath the lowering sky, they had set up an improvised marquee using the side of their white box truck, now an eerie showcase of vintage horror film movie posters.
First-time Brimfield exhibitor Michelle Pizio had come all the way from Whitesboro, Texas, bringing her colorful collection of majolica. A highlight in her attractively decorated tent was a Griffith Hill & Smith cheese dome, circa 1870s, decorated with floral motifs, butterflies and marsh grasses in greens, browns and yellows. The Phoenixville, Penn., pottery was famous for its Etruscan-style flora and fauna decoration, said the dealer.
Pizio was not the only Texan exploring Brimfield’s summer market. Pat and Kathy Singleton took their show on the road, driving from Tyler, Texas, with a colorful collection of country-style Hungarian farmhouse furniture. Beaten but not bowed by high gas prices †Connecticut was the worst, said Pat Singleton †the Singletons seemed to be doing brisk business selling late Eighteenth, Nineteenth and Twentieth Century hand painted furniture and accessories ranging from harvest tables, servers and armoires to benches, cabinets, marriage trunks, baskets and wooden bowls.
Dealer’s Row, a phalanx of three pavilions permitting up to 75 dealers to exhibit their merchandise in a protected setting, was humming with activity. Stan Farmer, who always brings a good selection of white ironstone, transfer ware, Staffordshire, Chinese Export and other ceramics from his collection, did not disappoint. For this show, however, the Deering, N.H., dealer, seemed more interested in pointing out a recent furniture acquisition †a commodious six-board chest, 5½ feet long, that had come out of Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Made around 1870, the chest would have been used to store blankets, pillows and quilts, according to Farmer.
Also benefiting from the sheltered space that Dealer’s Row provides was Knoxville, Tenn., art pottery dealer Jerry Kline. Specializing in both American and European examples, Kline was especially proud of a small Rookwood scenic semivellum vase by Edward Hurley, who was doubly famous as an architectural and landscape artist and one of Rookwood’s best artists, active from 1896 to 1948. The vase, made in 1946, was one of Hurley’s later pieces and exhibited a pristine, uncrazed surface.
Another Dealer’s Row exhibitor, Nicolas Gallot of Chicopee, Mass., was there with his father-in-law Rocco Scaringi, who, as principal of the furniture restoration firm Veleba & Hruban, received many important refurbishing commissions from the White House, US State Department, Blair House and Metropolitan Museum of Art. Gallot is carrying on the tradition, as exemplified by a Victorian walnut cylinder desk, circa 1880‹0, that virtually gleamed, thanks to his ministrations. Nearby, Gallot displayed an image of the desk before he had restored it.
At 9 am, the day’s focus shifted across Route 20 to Heart-O-The-Mart. On the field, a Civil War-era drum, made in 1861 in Pittsfield, Mass., was available at A&E Antiques, New Hartford, Conn., in all original, including the drum head, according to dealer Allan Peters. “Anyone who saw the movie Glory would recognize it,” he said.
Marisa Gaggino’s Heritage Co. from Detroit was celebrating America’s industrial heyday with a compelling collection of vintage wallpaper pattern rollers bearing famous artists’ designs that could be repurposed into table lamps, vases or just enjoyed as sculpture. Gaggino, who has been business for about 15 years, said she sells a lot to designers and does a lot of design work herself. “Industrial and institutional stuff is hot; it’s at the leading edge of interior design,” she said.
Toys for “children” big and small are always eagerly sought-after, and in this category one could find everything from a circa 1890 toy cannon at the space occupied by George Francis, Mount Washington, Mass., to a pair of Victorian cast iron and lead nude figural fountains that, according to Dan Seldin of North River Auction Gallery Inc, Saugerties, N.Y., had come out of the New York country weekend home of noted new York City interior decorator and designer Vince Lattuca. Seldin has become something of a real estate baron at Brimfield, his space now spanning eight booths at Heart-O-The-Mart.
A folk art painted door, probably done in the 1920s, stood out among the more traditional fine art displayed by Neal Beckerman. The Acton, Maine, dealer was sharing space inside the tented pavilion with Autrefois Antiques, which deals in French and Italian Eighteenth, Nineteenth and Twentieth Century furnishings at its Brookline, Mass., shop.
Rare and unusual were the operative words at David R. John’s Antiques. The North East, Penn., dealer was showing a folk art table “Birth,” a kaleidoscopically inlaid piece signed underneath “A.B. Moon made this stand in June 1912, Mercer, PA.” The name “Helen” was wrought with inlay letters on the bottom shelf. Atop the stand was an oil on canvas depicting an Apache warrior signed “Jakobson, Jan. 25, 1842,” and framed as found.
Jewelry dealer Bruce Ivan Block of Syracuse, N.Y., was providing a casual tutorial on Indian jewelry with show patron Arlene Cainey of Philadelphia, who was taken by a Rajahstan protector necklace from the early Twentieth Century. Block, who specializes in jewelry and pottery, was returning to Brimfield after a five-year hiatus.
It was the iron fist inside the glove that gave Hertan’s Antique Show its unique character. Beginning on Wednesdays at noon, the late Jean B. Hertan, who died in September 2006, would ring the bell to begin each show, and dealers knew better than to take any merchandise out of their vehicle or open their tent prior to that tocsin. Times and market conditions have changed, however, and Brimfield’s most popular “peep show” was a mix of both virtuous and “naughty” behavior in the half-hour to 15 minutes before the show’s opening. The show’s manager David Lamberto said that while he has stressed over strictly enforcing the rules for the past ten years, “now we just want to make sure everybody’s happy.”
While the rules may have been relaxed, buying was still fast and focused, as Bette Wolf, Westford, Mass., quickly negotiated the sale of a massive Boston Federal mahogany dining table, circa 1835, measuring 54 inches, not counting its seven 13½-inch leaves. Also displayed was a nice pair of Flemish chairs and a four-piece wicker set.
A signed Shaker pail from the Enfield, N.H., community from Eagle Antiques, Northwood, Mass.; a four-door flat wall cupboard in original blue over red paint, circa early 1800s at Buckingham Antiques, Burleson, Texas; an 1830s flintlock rifle with saddle rings from William Nuckleson, Oak Bluffs, Mass.; and a stoneware churn with stylized floral design made by Woodruff, Cortland, N.Y., circa 1860 at the booth of Samuel Harrup, Sheffield, Mass., were some of the other treasures to be found at Hertan’s.
By Thursday morning when May’s opened, temperatures were downright pleasant, and dealers were chatty †ever quick with a smile and a quip with visitors.
“We’re just going to throw everything out here and everybody’s going to have fun,” said Barbara Stackhouse as she arranged piles of textiles in her stand. The Youngstown, Ohio, dealer who trades as Victorian Fantasy chatted with a customer about a piece of hairpin lace that was offered at bargain prices.
As the gate opened, customers, many armed with metal carts or oversized shopping bags, rushed down the central aisle and determinedly made their way to choice stands, eager to have first dibs on a coveted item.
By about 10 am, over at American Life Antiques, James Cooke was still unpacking boxes of ceramics and glassware at a serious pace. Asked what standout items he had in his booth, he said many had already sold and that he was barely keeping up with demand. “Keep ’em coming back&t’s all about satisfied customers,” he said as he kept his tables full of merchandise. As customers would query him on items, he had the price ready in hand and would negotiate or not, but declined hands holding money out to him, asking them instead to “pay my wife.”
A shopper was intrigued by a “Civil War” sword in his stand that was price to sell at $425. Cooke explained that although these swords were made circa 1836, thus predating the Civil War, they were used commonly in the war and became known as Civil War swords. The Springfield, Mass., example he had was Roman in styling and boasted a fine eagle at the end of the hilt.
Harvey Webber of H.G. Webber Antiques, Hampton, N.H., was showing an E. Howard clock, circa 1827, being offered for $3,300, and then surreptitiously pointed out a pair of rare penguin bookends, probably made by Gloucester, Mass., decoy carver Charles Hart, in a case.
Schwab’s Antiques, Corfu, N.Y., had an eclectic grouping of merchandise on hand. Most interesting and colorful was a turn-of-the-century, funky jeweled shade from Buffalo, N.Y., for which Steven Schwab was asking $850.
Tom Joseph Antiques, Limington, Maine, showed a 1730s cabinet table with original top, drawer and red paint that was topped by a nicely weathered horse weathervane.
O’Connor Antiques of New York City had a variety of furniture on hand. Particularly eye-catching was a pair of midcentury lamp bases of Danish wood and topped with globes of green glass.
Rich & Jane Antiques, Philadelphia, had a deliberately sparse booth with a few notable works of art propped against tent poles †the uncluttered booth accentuating the artworks. On display in one corner were an African mud cloth, dyed in various colors, a painting by Gerritt Hondius and one by Joe Kardone.
Art also figured prominently at Hank Garrity’s booth. The Lowell, Mass., dealer had a colorful work of a couple dancing by Red Grooms, thought to be a silkscreen. The work was priced at $1,950.
Erickson’s Antique Stoves, Littleton, Mass., was set up near the front of the field with an assortment of restored and fully functioning antique stoves. An 1890s Acorn oak model made by Rathbone, Sard & Co., Albany, N.Y., wood burning, positively gleamed with its 12 acorn embellishments.
Across the Pond, Hackettstown, N.J., had rows of cigarette cards beautifully matted and framed. Whatever your taste: historic houses, celebrities or pinup models, there was a display of cards for it.
J&J, on the site of the original Gordon Reid Flea Market and now run by his daughters, is the place to be on Friday. Judy Mathieu, one of the sister owners of the business, was pleased with the results for the July date. “July is always the smallest of the three events, but we still had over 200 dealers this time,” she said. “The weather was a big help in building the attendance for us,” she added. “The morning started slow but built as the day went on and Saturday was the same, giving us good totals for the weekend.”
By the time most would be having a coffee break, Jan Lapore from Northfield, Mass., was too busy selling to look up. Neal Blodgett had made several sales, including a collection of steins, which he said “made the day.” Blodgett, from Higganum House Antiques, Higganum, Conn., was very pleased with his early sales, which also included “several bowls and a very rare and unusual butter stamp.”
J&J had something for all collectors this outing. Country Lady, Barbara Lesnewski from Saratoga Springs, N.Y., specializes in early advertising materials. Her display included hundreds of examples of printed tins and containers of home use products from another time. Hanauer & Seidman brought Eighteenth Century furniture and small accessories of the Nineteenth Century from their Colchester, Conn., shop.
Wigwam Hill Antiques in Wilbraham, Mass., was showing a large collection of early household tools made of metal. There were pewter plates and chargers, toleware trays, and copper and brass pitchers and kettles. Meg Mourey, Lancaster, N.H., was offering earlier tinware and other home implements. A wash stick or masher, hand carved from maple, was tagged at $65. Bill Kurau and his family were in from Lampeter, Penn., with a vast collection of early Staffordshire transfer ware.
From Canton, Conn., Jim and JoAnnea Delphia sold a Pennsylvania pie safe found in Ohio, priced at $2,900. Its tins were punched with a Pennsylvania mythological theme, including a distelfink with Phoenix scene. Their sales also included “another pie safe and a great deal of kitchen ware, two butter churns, an apple peeler, and lots of other smalls,” according to JoAnnea.
J&J is a family business in its second generation and the third works there now as well, Judy’s daughters Jill Balderelli and Laurie Prescott.
Brimfield will make its third and final outing of the year September 4‹. For information, www.brimfieldexchange.com or 413-245-0961.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm