Published: May 30, 2017
Review and Photos by Tom O’Hara, W.A. Demers and Greg Smith
BRIMFIELD, MASS. – Parking spaces were at a premium during Brimfield’s spring edition, May 9-13, even though the week began with shoppers attired in puffy winter toggery rather than shorts and tee-shirts. As dealers set out their inventory saved up over the winter months and antiques hunters and gatherers primed themselves with coffee and breakfast sandwiches for the treasure hunt, the fields generally filled up to capacity with exhibitors and their inventories: parking lots were quickly sprouting “Full” signs, and shoppers were scouring the open fields picking through the collections. The following pages showcase a small portion of the bounty that awaited Brimfield faithfuls.
Mark Kendall, South Hadley, Mass., had a late Nineteenth Century Swiss music box that was in excellent condition, playing eight tunes, six classics along with “Dixie” and “Sweet Bye and Bye,” obviously made for the American market. It found a new home in the first minutes of the day.
Country antiques dominated Elliott Berghoff’s offering nearby. The Doylestown, Penn., dealer was showing early Nineteenth Century textiles, an assortment of crickets, i.e., footstools in a variety of paint colors and decorations, and a pair of Hessian andirons.
Art and related items are easy to find here. Andrew Ford, Sarasota, Fla,. came with more than a dozen paintings and was busy early that morning buying more to offer on the field.
John Gould, Yorktown Heights, N.Y., is into folk art and antique frames. Here he was showing some of his collection, including restored items and assorted small painted boxes.
The Shed in the back of the field was as usual filled with dealers who elected to have a smaller space but a covered area. Summit, N.J., dealer Katie Hallenberg was among them with an assortment of Eighteenth Century silhouettes.
Brimfield Acres North
Across the street at Brimfield Acres North, the action was fast and furious too. Pat Greika has been on the field since its inception in the early 1990s, never missed a show, the Stafford Springs, Conn., dealer said. Now, with a little help from her family, she brought a collection of mostly small antiques, strong on Shaker pieces from the Nineteenth Century and also sewing collectibles of the same time period.
The adjoining space belonged to her granddaughter, Erin Strogoff, also from Stafford Springs, with a display of Eighteenth Century New England furniture.
Kate Phelan and her spouse, Tom Pirozzoli, Goshen, N.H., began their day with the sale of some of their country furniture. Kate was having fun arranging a display of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century accessories while the customers were buying from the shelves.
Silver and Old Sheffield plate were the best part of Art Bennett’s collection. This Waitsfield, Vt., trader was also offering Nineteenth Century lighting.
Bears were resting comfortably under the pavilion for John Cawley. From Hellertown, Penn., the exhibitor was caring for his menagerie of bears and other small beasts, all stuffed and waiting for new families.
New England Motel
It’s a wee-hour wakeup for the brave and committed shoppers who want first crack at merchandise in this early paid field. Co-owner Marie Doldoorian signals that it’s time to swing the gates open at 6 am with the ritual bell, and eager shoppers swarm through, many jogging to the far end of the field before methodically working their way back. The Motel is the first of the day’s three major shows that charge admission, and shopping tends to be brisk here as most people want to get it done and then line up for Heart-O-The-Mart a ways down on Route 20, to be at the gate by 8:30 am so they are ready for the field’s 9 am opening.
Exhibitors are in the mood to sell, and because the merchandise is mostly fresh, having been acquired during the winter months, the quality is very good.
A couple of baby-boomers were seen riffling through the collection of rock ‘n’ roll posters available at Dreamland Toys, Sheboygan, Wis. Owners John and Nancy Kondreck bring an eclectic collection that includes advertising, musical instruments, antique dolls, watches, jewelry and – believe it or not in May – vintage Christmas ornaments.
Todd and Michelle Clements came down from Sanbornton, N.H. “I sell things for what they are,” said Todd, referring to some of the reproduction art glass and lamps stocked in their booth. In the antique and lighting business for more than 40 years, they specialize in American art pottery, American and European art glass, as well as early Twentieth Century lighting and accessories.
If it is petroliana and automobilia you’re after, Rudy LeCoadic, Brooklyn, N.Y., wrote the book The Michelin Man: An Unauthorized Advertising Showcase, a Schiffer volume. LeCoadic, a professional photographer, antique graphics lover and serious Michelin collector, had a slew of the advertising on offer, including an interesting inflatable “man” that would be mounted on top of a vehicle with jets of air from a compressor making him bulbous. The Michelin mascot has been the subject of thousands of advertising and automobilia items around the world for more than 100 years, and LeCoadic had many with graphic designs – posters, hood ornaments, tin and porcelain signs, counter displays, three-dimensional figures, clocks, ashtrays and more inside his booth.
Formal and primitive furniture was plentiful at Fernwood Studio, Mahopac, N.Y. Owners Vin and Margaret Rowan assembled an attractive collection that included an English Chippendale four-drawer chest, circa 1780, a Nineteenth Century two-door cupboard in blue paint and a two-door raised panel cupboard in red paint dated to the Nineteenth Century.
This Wednesday staple celebrated the E-Tent’s 25th anniversary with a lobster feast gathering featuring wine and cheese, cocktails and more the evening before the show opened with some 1,000 dealers and guests at tables set up pondside, according to Matthew Robinson, owner of Trifles. His business is one of the regulars in this covered space at the far end of the field. One of the E-tent’s dealers, Mary Meyerhoffer of Tuesday’s on the Boulevard, Yorktown, Va., had a set of 32 trinquettes from the 1940s-50s that would have come in handy at the party. The glasses do not have bases, so must be set into an ice-filled bowl when one is not imbibing, in this case a restaurant silver punchbowl.
The show opened at 9 am on Wednesday with an eager crowd of shoppers running onto the field to find their favorite dealer.
Jan and John Maggs were shopping the show and found four pieces of Seventeenth Century pieces, three from Jennings and Rohn and another from Corey Daniels, as well as a few smalls, to add to their inventory. The Conway, Mass., dealers’ Nineteenth Century barn and much of their inventory was destroyed when a rare February tornado struck their neighborhood. The dealers in early English furniture, paintings, period jewelry and decorative arts, however, are rebuilding and recently reported that insurance adjusters have approved their plan for a new structure to house their merchandise and offices.
Selling was strong for Americana dealer and show promoter Frank Gaglio of Rhinebeck, N.Y., as he ticked off several early sales of an apothecary, horse and rider, Queen Anne candlestand, tole boxes, iron bed and pen wipe.
Set up at Heart-O-The-Mart, too, were a number of Gaglio’s cadre of exhibitors who are familiar faces at shows like Antiques at Rhinebeck and others, including Stockton, N.J., dealer Jim Grievo, the Village Braider, Ed and Anita Holden, Jane Wargo, Thomas Longacre, to name a few – all of whom find this field to be a great place to do business.
At a little before noon, Hertan’s becomes the focus as shoppers browse what can be seen – increasingly, a lot – before the opening bell rings and dealers are allowed to conduct transactions. Judd Caplovich of Vernon, Conn., was there with his collection of silver, gold and coins, perhaps for the last time, he said, as he is exiting actively selling at shows. “I came to the first Brimfield in 1959,” he recalled. “Now it’s time to slow down.” He laid out a wealth of high-value silver, including three Cartier pieces, a double candleholder, calla lily candleholders and a wine bottle holder. There were also some Tiffany, Cluny and Gorham pieces on offer.
Stephan and Amy Boyer, Finish Line Collectibles, Campbelltown, Penn., specialized in advertising figural trade signs and had a nice selection on offer here, including a large red, white and blue sign advertising “New York Bakery Lunch.” A large casino game wheel was colorfully decorated, featuring an inner 10-pointed star inset with images of a horse, beauty, horseshoe, bird and eagle.
An interesting collection is the result of a lifetime hobby of antique hunting generated by a stint at performing estate maintenance and cleanouts for seniors. The owners of Antique Rescue, Philadelphia, said the hard and dirty work gave them both psychic reward knowing they helped someone out at a stressful time – as well as the “treasures” they received as payment. Welcoming shoppers, atop their booth was a vintage Coca-Cola sign and blackboard on which they had written “Welcome to Hertan’s 2017. Yes, this sign is for sale.” It was the couple’s first time selling here, and they were next heading to the Jersey shore in June for shows at Ocean Grove and South Dennis.
May’s Antique Market
The May 11 session continued to see huge crowds, possibly record numbers in spite of the cold weather or perhaps because of that as high heat might have kept shoppers away.
May’s opening was the same shotgun start as always – 9 am the crowd is let in and only then may the exhibiting dealers pull out their collections to show what is for sale.
Sandy Doig of Karen Alexander Antiques, Enfield, Conn., was as busy as he could be pulling out his inventory of Eighteenth Century household accessories, art and small furniture. Very quickly many regular customers picked from his collection a set of Hessian andirons, a Leeds pearlware basket, a pair of mirrored wall sconces and several small stands, all New England.
Chelsea Hill Antiques was again a family affair for the Hamden, Conn., dealer. As the Brimfield church bells tolled, Tom Nagy, his wife, adult children, in-laws and even a couple grands quickly began unloading the William and Mary tables, Queen Anne chairs, Eighteenth Century paintings and more into their tented space.
Dennis and Dad, Fitzwilliam, N.H., was doing likewise, and at the same time selling from a collection of mostly English earthenware. Among the sales that day was a two-piece basket and under tray, in green feather edge.
Due to the demand for a hasty setup, many exhibitors bring merchandise that they can put out quickly to attract attention, while the small things that take time to display are saved for later or other shows unless a showcase is made ready to just pull off a truck and place on a table.
For example, Troxelville, Penn., dealer John Kennedy pulled out and quickly sold several trenchers; also offered were painted cupboards and blanket boxes, and for display an early wagon wheel.
Cutchogue, N.Y., exhibitor Gene Mott had two giraffes that had been used for a sales display somewhere before.
Bob Hammond, Winter Harbor, Maine, was selling his collection of painted iron doorstops and also a hurdy-gurdy, which was in good working order.
Stuart Cropper, a dealer from Brighton, England, was saying this would be his last trip to the United States for antiques shows. While he will be missed, this did give an opportunity for buyers to get great bargains from his collection of small portraits and porcelain.
It was a solid reception for Rusty and Kate Corriveau as the new owners of J&J at Brimfield Auction Acres opened up their newly acquired show on a beautiful morning to a swarm of buyers that proceeded to sprint, jog and merrily walk to a field of sellers who were anxiously awaiting their arrival. The field was plush with antiques ranging from Americana, primitives, a wide expanse of furniture in a number of styles, advertising, glass, pottery and folk art.
The Corriveaus are no strangers to Brimfield. Apart from calling the town home, the couple owned and operated the Crystal Brook field just across the street for a number of years before selling it in 2011. Predating that by decades, Rusty’s first job was parking cars at J&J in his youth, lending the transition a very heartwarming feeling.
With the majority of J&J’s prior staff on hand, the show ran as smoothly as it ever has.
Todd Shamock of Meriden, Conn., featured an eclectic mix of antiques, art and furniture. The dealer brought along a pair of Masonic columns from a recently cleaned out lodge in Meriden. The white painted columns each featured a gilt globe atop and had terrific presence. Also on offer was an antique pedal car and an 1879 Surray Machinists “ball head” high wheel bike.
All the way from Round Top, Texas, came Danny Tytenicz of Abbieland Antiques. The dealer displayed a colorful mix of fine art, Asian porcelain and decorative pieces. Tytenicz said, “Asian has done very well this show. I had a buyer fly in from Taiwan and he bought all of our best jade.” The dealer also featured an 1836 oil on canvas portrait of a gentleman signed J.W. Pope. It was well executed and came out of a home in Edmond, Okla.
Orchard Park, N.Y., dealer Robert Perry was found sharing a tent with Rhinebeck, N.Y., dealer and show manager Frank Gaglio. Gaglio was a walking billboard for his upcoming Antiques at Rhinebeck spring show as customers perused their offerings of Americana, folk art, furniture and decorative arts. Easily missed due to its size was an iron English table clamp sewing bird with a heart-shaped tightener. These were used by seamstresses to grip one end of their fabric so they could use their hands to hold the piece taut and sew. Gaglio had three mill weights at the beginning of the week but had already sold two, the last one left was a nice ‘W’ form dating to the late Nineteenth Century.
“I’ve been coming to Brimfield since the 1980s,” said John Prunier, Warren, Mass., who finds J&J to be a very good buying show. The dealer featured a collection of smalls, including a Nineteenth Century combination trammel pot holder of brass and wrought iron with a Continental origin, though made for the American market.
Wheeling and dealing behind the table at Thor Hilmar Antiques, Wellesley, Mass., was Julia Hoik, who looked up at one point as the people picked away at her booth and happily remarked, “It’s been ravaged.” The dealer brought along a plethora of Halloween and Christmas decorations that buyers could not seem to resist.
Brimfield will be back July 10-15. For more information, www.brimfieldshow.com.
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