Published: September 27, 2016
Review and Photos by Tom O’Hara, W.A. Demers, Andrea Valluzzo and Greg Smith
BRIMFIELD, MASS. — Weather forecasters were predicting a tropical storm that never came to the Northeast, and so many visitors to the last edition of 2016’s Brimfield, September 6–11, were not there early that week. In spite of the poor forecasts, and a drizzly day midweek, exhibitors came and shoppers were there, so sales early in the week were reasonably good.
Dealer’s Choice, the Faxons’ 11 am opening on Tuesday, had a large crowd waiting for the gates to roll back when the Tom Faxon and his sons opened them to the field.
Up front there were Doylestown, Penn., regulars Elliott and Carol Bergoff with their interesting collection of small decorative antiques. Among their offerings was an assortment of beaded fruit, which included the extremely hard-to-find pineapple, according to Elliott.
Across the aisle, Chrissie Shellogg was offering a large assortment of antique Oriental rugs. Coming to the show from Newnan, Ga,. she said her inventory was gathered from homes and sales in that area.
Finish Line Collectibles, Campbelltown, Penn., arrived with the most unusual assortment of antiques. For this show there were many retired carnival or circus props, but one drawing the most attention was the distorted mirror, a wavy thing, which made one’s reflection both fat and skinny.
John Gould was set up under the trees with his collection of Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century frames and also an unusual barber’s pole in the traditional twirling stripes that he brought from his Yorktown Heights, N.Y., home.
Brian Ferguson, Swansea, Mass., found the ideal architectural entry feature for someone’s Chinese restaurant, along with a truckload of traditional American furniture.
David Horst filled a big truck with lots of little dishes, including a large assortment of Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century cups and saucers. Horst is well known for his collection of early glazed earthenware kept at his shop in Lebanon, Penn.
Sandy St Pierre and a friend, Veronica Cross, Hartland, Maine, each came in minivans loaded to the rafters with little things. Shopping in Maine, they find great antiques made from wood and decorated with paint, such as the collection of pantry boxes, a miniature croquet set, whirligigs, sap buckets and a great deal more.
Katie Hallenburg, Summit, N.J., spent some time in England, where she learned about early Nineteenth Century silhouette artists. She now has made that a specialty with several dozen to choose from in the Pavilion at Dealer’s Choice.
Two hours later, at 1 pm, Brimfield Acres North opened as usual with a great complement of exhibitors. Out front as always was Pat Greika, the Stafford, Conn., exhibitor who has been in the same space for as long as the show has been in existence. She now gets some assistance from her family with loading and organizing the collection, but Pat does the selling, for she really knows her stuff. On this day she offered lovely smalls, including a miniature sheep for child’s play, an unusual miniature drafting tool in bone, toys and sewing notions.
Camille Buda was showing a collection of baskets she brought from Sandwich, Mass.
Marshfield, Mass., dealer Matt King offered an assortment of very early blown glass bottles from the 1700s, along with some stoneware.
Antique and vintage Oriental rugs were offered by Bob Maurer of Amherst, Mass.
Laura McCarthy is in the Barn at the North Field with her collection. Here she enjoys extended days of exhibiting as well as protection from the elements. She was showing her latest hooked rugs and painted furniture, important parts of her collections. Her favorite for the day was the larger-than-life sitting calico cat with kittens.
Falmouth, Maine, resident Louise Hardy offered a near perfect Tree of Life sampler, which seemed to be about 200 years old and in excellent condition.
A fine but steady rain greeted early shoppers lining up at the entrance to New England Motel prior to its 6 am opening. At the head of the line was Howard Huber of West Hartford, Conn., wielding a sturdy umbrella and equipped with the requisite broad brimmed hat, rain slicker and boots that any seasoned collector knows to bring when the rain-or-shine Brimfield Antiques Market is in session. Huber’s collecting passion is bronze sculpture. He doesn’t care which period it is from, but he has a bias toward seeking out unsigned works by nonliving artists. He told Antiques and The Arts Weekly that he doesn’t own a car, but rents one every Brimfield week and drives up from West Hartford to hunt the fields for finds to add to his collection.
Right at 6 am, Marie Doldoorian rang the traditional opening bell and the gates were swung open. Due to the fitful drizzle, much of the early shopping action was seen inside the field’s three covered pavilions where many of the high-end dealers display their collections protected from the elements.
Doing business here was James Dolph of JSD Antiques, Durham, N.H., sharing his booth space with Pillin pottery specialist Jerry Kline of Knoxville, Tenn., who in 2013 co-wrote a Schiffer volume on the category with Mike Nickel. Many examples by the pottery artists Polia (1909–1992) and William (1910–1985) Pillin, ranging from the late 1940s into the early 1960s were on offer. For his part, Dolph was showing his usual selection of Canton export ware along with some less-than-usual pieces of Black Butterfly, one of the rarer patterns, produced between 1800 and 1875.
Choice handmade designer jewelry was on offer by Antique and Costume Jewelry, Walton, Ind., with intricate necklace and earring sets by Stanley Hagler and many sparkling designs by Schiaparelli and Miriam Haskell, among others.
A complete late 1920s–30s Bakelite mahjong set was a highlight at Nellantiques, Leominster, Mass. Maggie and Dick Allen do all three shows and always bring a large assortment of vintage jewelry, sewing machines, Lucite pocketbooks and Bakelite items.
Two other dealers inside one of the pavilions sharing space were Kathy Tarr of the Victorian Rose, Wenham, Mass., with Limoges, Shelley. American and Irish Belleek, RS Prussia and many other examples of fine porcelain, and Amy Jackson of Laurel Antiques, Buxton, Maine, who showcased a great matched pair of Royal Bonn hand painted porcelain.
At 9 am, shoppers surged onto the field of Heart-O-The Mart, a field that got its start in July 1982 with six dealers setting up near a “Dealer Space Available” sign, according to the field’s website. From its modest beginning, the show has grown to some 500 exhibitors for most sessions, and claims to be Brimfield’s third largest.
Amid Midcentury Modern furniture and fine art, Shannon Aaron, co-owner of ModHaus, Boston, had a small collection of unusual stringed instruments — which he plays well — including a 1929 National tenor guitar, a handmade American F-style mandolin and a large Mexican guitarron, a deep-bodied, six-string acoustic bass played traditionally in mariachi groups.
Fresh from a successful outing at the Maine Antiques Dealers Association show in Damariscotta a couple of weeks before, Donna Grant of Grantiques, had several cases full of jewelry and sterling silver, including a set of 12 Whiting demitasse spoons, a pair of punch ladles and a Webster compote.
For anyone who did not get the memo, the shady glade that hosts Hertan’s show is alive with commerce well before its official noon opening. Yes, there are a few souls who still honor the merchandise cover-up and closed tent rule that was once mandated by the management, although these are mostly at the front of the market. Farther back, however, brisk commerce is already underway long before the opening bell sounds.
Speaking of which, there was a very interesting early military gong adding to the sounds, as curious shoppers converged on the circa early 1900s instrument being shown by Danny Wahl of Richmond, N.H. Tones are produced by tapping the mallet gently on the end of the tubes, labeled variously as “taps,” “reveille” etc., and it was designed to hang on a wall.
Another curiosity getting much attention was a miniature workbench crafted from oak and maple by an unknown maker at the turn of the century. It was being shown by Tim Hill, a Birmingham, Mich., dealer.
Found in Texas, but originally a fixture in a Quincy, Ill., Soldiers & Sailors Home, an apothecary-style storage cabinet used for storing and keeping safe Civil War veterans’ bank passbooks was being offered by Steve and Judy Ball, Horsefeathers Antiques, Shawnee Mission, Kan.
Folk art specialists Ed and Lillian Miller came from Ellsworth, Maine, with their staple collection of folky signs — e.g., “Fresh Crabmeat ½ lb. $3.50,” — a carved horse’s that head came out of eastern Ohio, circa 1920s–30s, and a pair of early 1900s unusual geometric design window shutters.
By Thursday morning, the weather was a bit better and crowds were thickening, though the ride into town was less congested than this time in May.
Dealers and buyers seemed enthusiastic with much business seeming to be enacted and purchases being toted around the field shortly after opening.
Ever a creative lot, dealers fully use every inch of table and floor space in their booths and sometimes Mother Nature gives them more space. Moon Gold Antiques, Marblehead, Mass., had a massive stump next to it that made a perfect display space for a pair of mirrors and a frame.
The Masons of Westfield, Mass., hung textiles on the side of their rental van and in the back was a large Seeds umbrella from an Albany, N.Y., store that was opened to show its lettering. Veteran dealers here, they noted that morning that sales were starting off quite well.
At another booth whose dealers had their hands full with customers and were too busy to chat, piles of silver — bright and or slightly tarnished — were laden on a large table with buyers crowded around, picking through the piles, looking for treasure.
As always, Brimfield has a little bit of everything to suit all tastes from well-traveled luggage with enviable stickers from Cairo, Portugal and Italy, seen at Vintage Clothing of the Past, Kingston, N.Y., to a blue Comet pedal car in the booth of Armada Antiques, Kennebunk, Maine. The always-affable McKells of Tradewinds Fine Art, Narragansett, R.I., seemed to be busy with customers in the morning also.
J&J Promotions heated up fast on Friday morning as temperatures were already sunny and in the mid-70s when the show opened at 8 am. Lines reached far and wide on multiple gates to get into the longest-running show in Brimfield and dealers were not left disappointed.
A grand display of bronze, lead and iron was on display at Chucanunda Antique Co., Amsterdam, N.Y. The display included classical bronze sculptures, old painted bookends, banks and doorstops. The company has been selling at J&J every year since the early 1980s.
Sport & Spool Antiques, Goldsboro, N.C., featured an attractive display of Indian clubs in the front of its booth. The dealers also brought along antique sporting equipment, collegiate memorabilia, photographs and trophies.
On its second showing at Brimfield, Wilori Lane Antiques, Rochester, N.Y., brought fine country and Americana items. The dealers showed off an unsigned 1850s oil on canvas of a grist mill, priced reasonably at $490. Dealing is a happy hobby for owners Lori Giordano and Will Verfuss. They intend to be back next year.
Joanna Delphia, the eye behind Vintage New England, Canton, Conn., reported several sales just after show opening, including a large galvanized pie safe and several smalls. The dealer, who has been a vendor at J&J for more than 30 years, brought along a selection of Americana and brightly painted iron pieces, wooden bowls, bridesboards and other country items.
Delphia said, “We love this show, they have nice, quality and early pieces. It’s always been a good show for us.”
Higganum House Antiques, Higganum, Conn., had a packed booth early in the morning as owner Neal Blodgett was still setting things up. The dealer brought a fine selection of iron and carved wood pieces that filled nearly every square inch of the tent.
“I’ve been selling well,” said Blodgett. “Of course, I bring more than anyone else.” True to his word, the dealer likely had more smalls than any other dealer at the show.
Brimfield is three time each year and the dates are planned long ahead. For 2017, they are May 9-14, July 11-16 and September 5-10. Each field has its own website posting contact information, but an overview website for more information is www.brimfieldantiquefleamarket.com.
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