Published: July 24, 2018
Photos & Review By Tom O’Hara
BRIMFIELD, MASS. – Summer at Brimfield is a carnival atmosphere with hot dogs and ice cream cones, kids in strollers and puppy dogs on leashes while the grown ups shop the thousand or more antiques and collectibles vendor’s booths for the special something to take home. It is bargains from attics and barns and great antiques from hundreds of years ago. It includes fine art – a Chagall was found in the mud a couple years ago – and outsider art made in Brooklyn last month. And it is great fun for all who come.
Tuesday July 10 to Sunday July 15 was the official week for this summer’s gathering of the faithful, sellers and buyers both, at that wide spot in the road in Massachusetts.
Faxon’s Midway, one of the many first to open that morning at first light, was showing its collections in the tents with Ross Bros., the successor to Jon Magoon out front. Jon finally retired after more years than he remembers and sold his rights to these new vendors from Florence, Mass., who have a similar line of merchandise. There were Old Town canoes, whale oil lights, Nineteenth Century camping gear and lots more.
James LeFurgy, Wiscasset, Maine, sharing space there, offered Maine handicrafts, art and 100-year-old toys in his inventory. He also had an assortment of small furniture with him, most found in Maine.
David Erickson, Erickson Antique Stoves, restores and sells the Nineteenth Century wood stoves that were used in kitchens for cooking and heat. From Littleton, Mass., he offered an assortment of them and he also had some of the original wood burning parlor stoves.
Just a little further down the road, Dealer’s Choice opened at 11 am with more than 150 exhibitors. Many of the dealers on this field are regulars who exhibit at all three shows. John Gould, Yorktown Heights, N.Y., was there in his usual place with his frames and more. He has established himself as one of the best-known dealers in antique frames in the business, especially in gilt and gold leaf. He has a regular clientele, including artists and decorators that check with him first for their framing needs.
Across the aisle, Stephan Boyer was showing some of his fun stuff. Finish Line Antiques, Campbelltown, Penn., is the business name and his specialty is perhaps best described as unusual novelties, such as a clown head that was the target for ping pong balls. His stuff will always draw a smile.
The field offered a great assortment of antiques. Sharon Frances, Hull, Mass., was selling fine bone china cups and saucers. Lynn Davis, Gouverneur, N.Y., had an assortment of Georgian furniture and an American tall case clock in good working condition. Jamie’s Antiques, Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., was showing some of their jewelry. And if you were looking for a West Point Marching Band drum, Mark Kendall had one for sale.
Manheim, Penn., is home for Steven Still and where he can do most of his shopping. His collection shows a wonderful assortment of late Eighteenth and early Nineteenth Century folk art, and here at Dealer’s Choice, due to the short nature of the show, he puts out mostly small and easy-to-handle pieces rather than furniture.
Vintage New England, Canton, Conn., does likewise, that is, limiting its exhibit to smaller pieces on Tuesday morning. It specializes in early household machinery, especially coffee grinders and store fixtures. Also available were smaller wall hung-style coffee bean holder/grinders, candle molds, string keepers and paper holders.
On Wednesday, the weather continued to cooperate for the vacationing shoppers and exhibitors alike as more shows opened. The day began with Marie Doldoorian again opening the gates at New England Motel Antique Show promptly to the awaiting crowds at 6 am. Her show – now managed with the help of her family – has become more of a blend of styles with early antiques, Mid Century décor and, due to the great shelter afforded by her three pavilions, fragile accessories.
In the pavilions there were many exhibits featuring porcelain, china and glasswares. James Dolph, Durham, N.H., was selling a collection of Asian porcelain objects, including antique ginger jars made into lamps, jade figurines and porcelain dishes, such as Rose Medallion and Rose Mandarin. Andrea Crews, Hilton Head, S.C., offered her inventory of silver hollowware, large flatware and an assortment of pressed floral wall hangings.
Cathy Esbrook, South Lynn, Mich., collects early things: many kinds of antiques and other objects she believes hold an appeal to the buying public. It seems to work for her as the sales were enough to cover the cost to be in Brimfield for a week, selling Marx trucks, Nineteenth Century quilts, children’s miniature furniture, Christmas decorations and antique suitcases.
Penny Ross, Melbourne, Fla., will decorate your summer home, or a winter place in Florida from her supplies, and it will all look like it came right out of a circa 1900 movie. Pale colors, pastels and white wicker furniture highlighted with quilts of the same vintage and white ironstone dishes, and even some crystal for the wine. For bolder colors, nearby was Victorian Rose, Wenham, Mass., with the Shelly cups and saucers for sale.
The field was also a great source for furniture of many styles and periods. Peter Murphy, Bath, Maine, was selling Eighteenth Century Georgian furniture and the appropriate accessories. Across the aisle, Knollwood Antiques, Village of Thorndike, Mass., was selling from its Mid Century collection of outdoor furniture. The owner, Richard LaVigné, has specialized in early Twentieth Century iron and wicker.
Tony Novak, Glastonbury, Conn., had an enormous collection of matchbox cars. He agreed with a shopper, who said that they are so popular, they sell at the rate of at least one every 11 seconds worldwide.
Country and Nineteenth Century American furniture is the mainstay for Vin and Margaret Rowan of Fenwood Studio, Mahopac, N.Y. Some of their pieces have been restored, but all are in excellent condition and ready for the home, with the style emphasis on slightly primitive.
Nearby, Carolina Vintage Home was quite the contrast, showing much more formal furnishings of slightly newer vintage, from the late Nineteenth Century and even the earliest part of the Twentieth Century. Coming to the show for many years from Lexington, S.C., they fill a very large exhibit area with upholstered and highly polished furniture.
On Thursday, the only show opening was May’s Antique Market with many faithful dealers. This is one of the original fields started in September 1977 by Richard and Laura May. There was a little melancholy as the show began, because Laura May, the co-founder and spirit of the show, had passed away on July 2 [for her obituary, see the July 27 edition of Antiques and The Arts Weekly] but many of the exhibiting dealers and shoppers remembered her always cheerful disposition, and her smile and pleasant demeanor. She will be remembered by many with joy and she will be missed.
The field opened as usual at 9 am when the exhibiting dealers were then allowed to pull out their goods; no early shopping here, ever! So, the public came running in and bought promptly.
Tom Nagy and his family, representing Chelsea Hill Antiques, Hampton, Conn., had their tent up and quickly began to fill it with a collection of Jacobean furniture and paintings from the last few hundred years. Karen Alexander Antiques, now located in Enfield, Conn., sold well early with a set of six Hitchcock chairs that were an exceptional value, several tea caddies, and several Nineteenth Century pieces of art from New England.
Kay Baker, Amherst, Mass., quickly sold a set of naturalist prints. As usual, she also had a large assortment of early small household antiques. Chocolate molds are Terry Lewis’ specialty. He has been coming here from Takoma Park, Md., for many years, filling tables with little things.
Mary Seidel, Northampton, Mass., offered and sold her Nineteenth Century English ironstone dishes. Waitsfield, Vt., exhibitor Art Bennett sold from his collection of old Sheffield plate. James Butterworth, Nashua, N.H., had his set up quickly filled with an excellent collection of wicker and rattan furniture.
John Lord and his sons love their colorful advertising, store fixtures and machines. Here they were showing really cool Nineteenth Century advertising pieces, colorful and even a few off-color pieces! There were the Diamond Dyes, thermometers, scales and more.
Brimfield is an event three times annually, and the last installment for 2018 will be Labor Day Week, September 4-9. For those who have not booked hotels, do not wait, for they fill very quickly. Look to Sturbridge to the east and Chicopee to the west for starters but beyond that, check a map and see what fits the budget.
September 26, 2023
September 19, 2023
September 12, 2023
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm