Published: September 18, 2012
With the promise of rain on Tuesday †a threat that, thankfully, did not materialize †Brimfield Antiques Market opened September 9‱4 to conclude its 2012 season. Enthusiastic throngs of shoppers extended their Labor Day weekend each day during the week with the late summer chase to find that coveted antique or collectible among the acres of items displayed on the 20 or more fields on either side of Route 20.
Tuesday at Brimfield, as usual, started at “o’dark-thirty,” generally, the first light of dawn, with many fields opening to the public for the balance of the week. One of the first places early shoppers head for is the “Vermont Tent” at Green Acres, so-called because it is mainly populated by dealers from the Green Mountain state. Although, on this morning, Philip Stanley of Worcester, Mass., was examining an old wooden shop bench with a flashlight as the market opened at the booth of Brian Provost of Skowhegan, Maine. Provost, a general line dealer who also specializes in gold watches, coins and jewelry, believed that the bench getting Stanley’s scrutiny was manufactured for a high school shop class in the 1920s.
Vermonter Jean Tudhope, whose business Back Door Antiques is located in East Middlebury, was a “tent denizen” for the first time this year. Among her items on display were a Hudson Bay coat from the 1940s, alongside a paddle, pine oar and seat that had probably been used in a boat in wonderful blue paint.
Over at The Meadows, another free field opening early, Joni Lima, the Damariscotta, Maine, dealer specializing in wrought iron furniture and estate antiques, was also showing for the first time in this field. He proudly displayed a 1931 Packard trunk with luggage from a prominent Wells, Maine, estate.
Nearby, vintage airplane salvage was luring designers in the form of an airplane door, engine cowlings and wing sections taken from a 1950s aircraft. Such funky finds are the purview of Recycling The Past, Barnegat, N.J., which is always buying architectural salvage in the form of iron gates and fencing, fireplace mantels, garden ornaments, doors and windows and more.
At Faxon’s Midway, Cillo Enterprises offered a late Sixteenth Century samurai suit of armor, complete with “everything but the warrior,” according to the Darlington, Md., dealer.
Michael Goodman, aka the “King of Stuff,” from Townshend, Vt., said the dealer rush came early in the week at his spot at Faxon’s Midway. “From Wednesday onward, it was mostly a retail type of buyer with very narrow interests,” he said. “I was very surprised to sell all of my triple folding mirrors †triptychs †to one group of Midwestern buyers. I also sold an Alfred Dunhill smoke stand and a large metal confessional ‘window,’ as well as a patented brass scale by Preston of Boston.”
Central Park was also busy. Part of the new Brimfield Country Roads section here is devoted to 14 primitives dealers, and this was the third show in which these dealers were grouped together. One of them was Sherman Alden Antiques, East Falmouth, Mass., offering a Pennsylvania dry sink, circa 1850, dry-scraped to its original mustard paint. Notable sales for the dealer included the dry sink, a canted sea chest, large graduated set of iron and copper ladles, youth chair with great wear, a Connecticut shore banister back chair and numerous smalls, according to owner Carl Peterson. Nearby, Susan Wirth, Union, Conn., was set up with Tinkertown Antiques, Douglas, Mass., with a combined display that included furniture, buckets, mortars, covered barrels, pantry boxes, pitchforks, hand-crafted baskets and other primitive items.
“Vintage art, early blacksmith forged iron and primitives carried the day,” said Tom Dzamba, the owner of Eclectibles Art & Antiques, Wells, Maine, who was set up in Central Park. “Though a tough economy, discriminating buyers looking for accent pieces seemed willing to spend on unusual items in great condition.” Dzamba reported a good, steady crowd during the week, with a strong Sunday showing.
Quaker Acres dealers included Joyce and Tom Tomaszek, Blackstone, Mass., offering vintage jewelry and Don Gill and Patti Bourgeois, doing business as Pats Pots, Westport, Mass. They brought a selection of American and European art pottery, including a Roseville Winged Victory vase, circa 1928, and a signed Weller Sicard piece, circa 1903.
Two pay fields that open on Tuesday †Dealers Choice and Brimfield Acres North †attract the late morning and afternoon activity. Dealers Choice, owned by Tom and Lori Faxon, opens at 11 am, and did so again this year, with fields that, as per usual for the last show in the season, appeared to be about 75 percent full in terms of exhibitors. Still, there was plenty to see and acquire, as Tom Faxon opened the gate to an enthusiastic crowd a few minutes before 11.
Treasures ranged from a jaunty double-sided department store Christmas decoration from the 1940s at Dolcé, West Palm Beach, Fla., set up at the entrance of Dealers Choice, to an early blanket chest, circa 1790‱810, that came out of midcoast Maine, according to John Marsili, Full Moon Antiques, New Harbor, Maine. Marsili pointed out that the two-drawer piece showed evidence of replaced snipe hinges. The dealer also had a Chippendale box of about the same age with a beautiful tall base and crisp cutouts on the sides and front. It was Victorian period, with a grain paint over the original blue-green paint.
An exuberantly decorated O.L. & A.K. Ballard 6-gallon crock, 1862, peeked out of the open hatch of a van driven by Joe Martin, Brownington, Vt., and, likewise, a pair of glazed terracotta finials, turn-of-the-century pieces out of a Palm Beach, Fla., estate, tailgated at Kate Alex, Warner, N.H.
Under the protective cover of the pavilion at the far end of the field at Dealers Choice, Lou DeFusco and his partner Holly Luring, Cocoa, Fla., brought out a special piece they had only recently acquired †a piece of estate Native American jewelry that could do triple duty as a necklace, pin or pendant. The dealers, whose display cases gleam with myriad silver and turquoise items, said they needed to do more research on what they had, although Luring said she believed it to be a museum-quality Hopi kachina.
Across the way from Dealers Choice and opening at 1 pm, Brimfield Acres North also drew a spirited crowd fanning left, right and straight ahead as the gate opened.
Near the show’s entrance, Deep River Antiques, Essex, Conn., offered a pair of chalkware blackamoors in original paint, probably circa 1890. Inside the Barn, there were several dealers, including Hatfield House Antiques, Bridgewater, Mass., showing a colorful racing horse blanket, circa 1950s.
Out on the field, a full-bodied running horse weathervane, late Nineteenth Century, 26 inches long and in original surface was shown by Harvey Weinstein, New York City, while a button foot Sheraton table with old red surface was among the country furniture collection of Tom Pirozzoli and Kate Phelan, Goshen, N.H.
New England Motel
Wednesday morning began with ominous skies, dark, churning clouds hanging low to the ground, while the dew was mixed with an overnight rain, leaving cars so wet that heaters were needed to clear the windshields and mirrors, but it was also too warm for the heat. A very uncomfortable morning, but just as on Broadway, the show †or in this case shows †must go on.
New England Motel Antiques Show opened at 6 am with good crowds and good early buying for the several hundred exhibiting dealers. Cyd Paden, Mapleside Antiques of Titusville, Penn., said, “A sale of several barn lanterns from our inventory was because the customer had seen them in The Bee [ Antiques and the Arts Weekly ] as a report of another show was telling about the collection, so she came looking for us.”
Located near the entrance of the show, Mohammed Zellou from Providence, R.I., was showing a collection of Nineteenth and Twentieth Century furniture, which had been redecorated or repurposed. His sales that morning were good, with several bedroom chests showing sold tags.
First-time exhibitor Janice Phillips from Southern Pines, N.C., was also showing old pieces that had been altered to meet today’s market. There was an early pedestal table with fresh paint, and mahogany centennial chairs with fresh seats and paint at an ice cream parlor table and more. Her sales, while less than she was hoping to achieve, were sufficient to book into the next show in May 2013.
Capitol Salvage, Torrington Conn., was in its usual space with truckloads of early furniture, architectural items and store fixtures. There was a hardware store’s canterbury. The dealer also had a collection of early signs.
Across the street from New England Motel, Heart-of-the Mart was warming up for its 9 am opening while also worrying about the darkening overhead clouds. Dealers were protecting the antiques in their tents, while there was good activity in the Big Top Tent in the back of the main field.
Jennings & Rohn Antiques, Woodbury, Conn., featured an early William and Mary tavern table with period accessories, early lighting and art. Marianne Stikas, now living in New York City, offered a collection of midcentury designer furniture. From Essex, Mass., John Rider was offering a collection of primarily late Nineteenth Century hardwood furniture.
About ten minutes before the show’s opening the rain began, and it was raining as in the tropics, so heavy the draining water was seeping into tents and overflowing the small stream that bisects the Heart property. The rain lasted only a half hour, so the effect was to just slow down the opening. By 9:20 am, the rain stopped and sun began to disperse the clouds.
VanDeest Antiques and Art in the back of the field was busy writing sales tickets for its folk art and early advertising paraphernalia. Jim Grievo, Stockton, N.J., collects and trades in Americana and folk art, which was selling well that morning.
The final opening Wednesday was Hertan’s Antiques Show at noon. Founded many years ago by Jean Hertan and now owned and managed by David Lamberto, the show is the short-term home for about 250 exhibitors under the trees in tents. This show, like many at Brimfield, allows the dealers to set up their exhibits while keeping the public out of the tents, but the shoppers are always milling about as the noon hour approaches, when Lamberto rings an old school bell for the show to open.
This most recent show benefited from poor weather Tuesday and early Wednesday, according to a group of dealers who were very busy selling early on. Judy’s Antiques, Auburn, Maine, sold early lighting, a pair of Austrian wall sconces that had been converted from candle to electric; several pieces of transfer ware; several magnifying glasses to a shopper from China and more early earthenware.
Finish Line Collectibles, Campbelltown, Penn., was selling early painted furniture. Included in its inventory was an early piece described as a “painted Pennsylvania Amish school desk, in as-found condition,” and also several carnival game pieces, including knock-down dummies and gaming wheels.
Timber River Farm, Timber River, New Brunswick, Canada, was also selling early painted furniture. Sharing the tent with Tommy Thompson, Pembroke, N.H., the dealers’ combined collection also included several early quilts and coverlets, an unusual green painted piggan, small household boxes and early lighting, both candle- and whale oil-fired.
Bill Kelly, Limington, Maine, was selling painted furniture. Emmons & Martin Antiques, Essex, Mass., was here with several pond boats, while Bif Martin showed a miniature Chris Craft speedboat, which had been built in miniature to the standards of its full-size counterpart.
Two dealers from the same hometown †Montrose, Penn. †were exhibiting. Margaret Jones has been there under the trees for many years with an outstanding collection of smalls. One piece she was showing was binoculars, a mere 1-inch long, made from carved bone and fully functional. Her neighbor on the field and in Pennsylvania, Bob Smith was selling a life-size mannequin of Uncle Sam along with early furniture and smalls.
Benting & Jarvis Antiques, Barrington, N.H., offered a collection of Windsor chairs, sack back and continuous arm, in a variety of early paint colors.
May’s Antiques Market
Dealers were set up and clear skies awaited shoppers on Thursday morning and there was little remaining evidence of the torrential rains that had fallen the previous day. May’s Antiques Market was once again subjected to large crowds of serious shoppers, with long lines extending from the two entrances flanking the driveway into the field awaiting opening. As usual, the lines began forming across the street and despite the best efforts of local law enforcement officers, the opening of the gates results in a mass of shoppers crossing the street and blocking the main thoroughfare, thereby creating a human traffic jam. The gate at the rear of the field, a third entrance to this popular market and a favorite spot for those that want to avoid the mosh pit scenario of Route 20, also saw a long line of buyers.
Shoppers sprinted onto the field at 9 am and trading began at a fast and furious pace. Richard Lewis’s truck was once again situated near the front entrance, loaded to the hilt. The Groton, Mass., dealer, who has been exhibiting from the same booth for the past 30 years and now shares his booth with Gateway to the Past and Negrin Fine Arts, displayed a good selection of paintings, country antiques and folk art items, such as trade signs and an early Twentieth Century “spinning” barber pole.
Activity at opening was proceeding at breakneck speed at Karen Alexander Antiques, Somers, Conn., as early chairs, a bowfront, four-drawer chest, Queen Anne candlestands, a Sheraton sideboard and a tall and slender red painted country cupboard were unloaded from the truck and positioned in the booth. Next door at Derik Pulito, Kensington, Conn., a nice grain painted box was displayed alongside a set of early painted hog scraper candlesticks and a cheese basket.
Italian glass, Amphora and a wide variety of art glass was drawing substantial attention from shoppers at Fred Parks, Baltimore, Md. Standing ten deep in the booth, the dealer queried the crowd, “Who asked about the Rookwood?,” to which several volunteered and extended their hands so as to be first to view the vase.
A neat pair of red vinyl covered armchairs with strong Deco influences was displayed at Steven Schwab, Gasport, N.Y., while next door, cast iron toys were all the rage at Bob Hockaday, St Michaels, Md. Native American blankets and rugs were offered by Steve Smoot Antiques, Lancaster, Penn., and a good selection of early American glass was at Norman C. Heckler & Company, Woodstock Valley, Conn.
On a bright note, Pine Bush, N.Y., auctioneer Mark Vail returned to Brimfield and his regular spot at May’s after suffering a stroke last year. Looking chipper and not having lost a bit of his wit, the dealer has made an amazing and welcome recovery
Eyes cast to the skies on Friday morning were met with warning, although it turned out not to be rain clouds †a thought that initially crossed the minds of Wednesday’s storm survivors †but a thick layer of fog. Opening at 8 am, the fog provided welcome relief to the throngs of shoppers from a blistering sun that would burn through by midmorning. Another market to feature three different entrances, the J&J field was once again subject to large lines, some that began forming shortly after 6 am, waiting to get onto the original Brimfield field.
Promoter Judy Reid Mathieu, who with sister Jill Reid Lukesh runs J&J, was on hand to signal the start of the market, standing alongside Edi Dole, who has been collecting tickets at the opening for more than 30 years, and the two seasoned marketers made sure to stand clear of the buyers galloping towards the field.
Ready for the stage and the big lights, New York City dealers Fennick & Co. had “Ed Sullivan style” television cameras on display †complete with lighting and boom microphones. Also attracting attention in the booth was a neat florist’s delivery bicycle, probably late 1950s, with a spring seat and a large wicker basket up front.
A huge wooden airplane propeller was wedged between a period slant front desk and a couple of country cupboards in the booth of Just Not New, Wallingford, Vt.
Branford, Conn., dealer Terry Falk presented a selection of folk art that he had rescued from a building that was about to be demolished. Actually an artist’s studio that had been part of an art colony consisting of members that had all graduated from Yale, the colony had thrived in Westbrook during the 1950s. Having fallen into disrepair after the recluse artist had passed away, the building had been acquired by the government and was about to be demolished, contents and all, when Falk cut a deal and delayed the wrecking ball. The Uncle Sam, clown and animal figures, all made of concrete and then vibrantly painted, were termed by the dealer as a “piece of Connecticut art history” that was ultimately saved.
Next year’s Brimfield dates will be May 14‱8, July 9‱3 and September 3‷. For additional information, www.brimfield.com , www.brimfieldexchange.com , www.brimfieldfleamarkets.com or call the local Chamber of Commerce at 413-283-2418.
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