Published: July 20, 2004
July Brimfield was conducted over the Independence Day holiday week, July 6-11. “Summer Brimfield,” as it has become known, is the easy market, the smallest of the three events conducted each year. More than 20 fields have space available for dealers who drive up at the last minute, hoping to stake a claim to sell as well as shop.
Summer Brimfield happens when dealers are as busy as one-armed paperhangers, many with active shops or intense show schedules. As a result, many who exhibit in May and September skip the July edition, leaving space for dealers who are not usually a part of this famous antiques market.
Brimfield is well known as the biggest antiques market in the country and among the largest in the world. Each of its fields on the west side of this small village – which is about 90 miles from Boston and 50 miles from Hartford, Conn. – is filled with from as few as 15 exhibitors to as many as 700. Each field has its own rules and policies about days and hours of operation and entry by customers, but by town ordinance selling is limited from sunrise Tuesday until sunset Sunday. The long summer days and bright early mornings give extended hours to hunt for fresh merchandise.
This July’s event found a typically busy market at most of the fields, as the weather was cooperative for most of the week. Early Tuesday morning there was a frenetic pace of shopping even before the food vendors had the coffee ready. Although many dealers complained about sales, there were enough buyers taking home freshly acquired antiques to make it a successful week for most.
Dealers in the Vermont tent at Green Acres reported that sales began at first light Tuesday to folks who may have noticed some things during the Monday setup of their exhibit. This is where a group of dealers share a large tent, about 30 by 60 feet, filling it with home furnishings they find in northern Vermont and New York State. There was a collection of early silver, Sheffield plate, sterling and even some valuable plate, along with their typical collection of furniture.
A lady at Stephan’s Place had a tent set up as a bedroom with a Sheraton tester bed in excellent original condition. Brimfield has been catering to the trend for later antiques, especially for use in a garden or enclosed porch.
There was a great deal of wicker, rattan and early metal outdoor furniture on exhibit, and sales were reported to be good in this material. Shelton’s, Olde Tavern Antiques of Somers, Conn., had stacks of used millstones priced at $225 each. The dealer said he found them in Pennsylvania and there were more at his shop. They would now find a new life as lawn and garden decorations and stepping stones. Another dealer came down from Canada with salvaged nautical rdf_Descriptions, including two very early iron anchors, each about six feet tall and five feet across the flukes.
Geoff Jackson set up in a tent at The Meadows, shared with Larry Baum of Charleston, S.C., and Ohioan Don Schweikert. Jackson’s son, Kestor, lives in England where he shops for his father at auctions and markets throughout the United Kingdom. Their specialty is Nineteenth Century English porcelain dishes, with some from Asia, also. Just across the aisle was Bob Shelton, a former building contractor from Sandy Hook, Conn., with a large collection of furniture and accessories. He was especially excited about a pair of majolica figural owls made by Morley.
John Smith has been coming to Quaker Acres from his Steep Falls, Maine, home for years. His inventory included American country furniture, which he refinished and some interesting small rdf_Descriptions. He had a stack of five pantry boxes in original blue paint for $2,400 and a measuring stick made to use in the old milk cans to determine how many quarts of milk were in them.
May’s field is the second largest of all, with capacity for more than 600 dealers. They open with the dealers in place but no tents up and no merchandise out until exactly 9 am, according to May. He said this “very rough [on the dealers], but we do deliver the buyers, and it hasn’t been pre-shopped.”
Brimfield next takes place September 7-12, and that is usually the biggest of all three shows. There is a flyer produced by the Brimfield Show Promoters Association, which lists all the show phones, times, etc, and it can be obtained by calling the Sturbridge Area Tourist Association at 800-628-8379. The association can also assist in hotels and travel information.
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