Published: September 18, 2018
Review and photos by Madelia Hickman Ring, Greg Smith and W.A. Demers
BRIMFIELD, MASS. -The saying on the fields at the thrice-yearly Brimfield Antiques markets is that the weather is always either really hot or cold and damp. The third edition of the 2018 season, which was scheduled for September 4-9, was hot. Relentlessly hot, at least for the first part of the week. But the heat did nothing to dispel the number or enthusiasm of shoppers who made the semiannual pilgrimage to this New England antiques-lover destination.
Many fields are only open on one day, and Dealer’s Choice marketplace is no exception. It is one of a handful of markets that are open early in the week, this year on September 4. Lori Faxon, who manages Dealer’s Choice and a few other shows, is diligent about keeping crowds out until 11 am, when the field opens. Potential buyers show up early to get a key place at the gate and once it opens they stream in, often at a gallop. Speaking after the show closed, Faxon reported “We had a great show. Of course, the heat hurt us a little bit. The first days of Brimfield always attract serious buyers, who were not deterred by the heat, as perhaps some of our retail buyers might have been, and the crowds the rest of the week were very good.”
The Dealer’s Choice field offers such a broad and all-encompassing variety of objects that there is something for everyone. Dealers with booths underneath the pavilion at the back of the field saw busy traffic in attendees who wanted to get out of the sun. One of the dealers under the pavilion was Amherst, Mass., dealer Justin Cobb of Captain’s Quarters Antiques. Cobb had an oversized Nantucket basket in his booth. The underside was stamped “A.R.M./ Nanocraft/ Basket/U.S.A.” According to Cobb, it had been made by an inmate named Martin, who had been imprisoned for murder. He had acquired it in New Hampshire. Sitting next to Justin Cobb was Guy Gerhard from Richmond, Maine. Gerhard had been collecting for 45 years and this was his first year selling at Brimfield. He had brought a wonderful carved miniature model of Booth Bay Harbor that had been made by a sailor.
Another vendor who was new to the Dealer’s Choice field was David & Donna Kmetz American Paintings, Douglas, Mass., who are regular vendors at shows throughout New England and who are familiar to Antiques And The Arts Weekly readers. Donna was happy to have a shaded booth under the pavilion. Another new vendor to Dealer’s Choice was The Local Vault, from Greenwich, Conn. According to the firm’s website (www.thelocalvault.com), they are a new marketplace for new and pre-owned luxury home furnishings and dÃ©cor, all sourced from private sellers, designers and retailers in the greater Westchester and Fairfield County areas, and searchable entirely online. Speaking after the show, they said they had met a lot of dealers and designers both at Dealer’s Choice and at Heart-O-The-Mart, which they also participated in.
Some of the other sales reported at Dealer’s Choice included two cabinets, a group of firefighter’s paraphernalia and a whale weathervane that had been with Stephen Daniell, Alley Antiques, Pelham, N.H.; and Karen Redinger, Litchfield, Conn., said she had sold vintage textiles to a couple who have a shop in Hawaii.
Over at the Midway Antiques Show, produced by Lori Faxon, who also runs Dealer’s Choice, early vintage stove collectors could have a field day examining various examples of cast iron and other types of early ranges in a communal large tent, a portion of which was given over to the collection of David Erickson. The Littleton, Mass., dealer and owner of Erickson’s Antique Stoves, Inc restores, converts and sells antique stoves and ranges of all types. On offer here were two restored beauties from around 1926, one a “Queen Atlantic” wood/coal kitchen range with rare two-tone porcelain finish and original nickel polished cooktop and the other a “Glenwood” with five burners, two ovens and roll up warming oven.
Erickson could be seen later in the week at May’s, offering a circa 1902 “Eriez” restored gas parlor stove that sported a Native American profile and came fitted with modern thermostat and safety pilot unit.
New England Motel
Buyers were hot out of the gate at the New England Motel as the 6 am opening premiered the first field to open on Wednesday.
Brothers Bobby and John Doldoorian have taken the reins of the field from their mother, Marie, and now enjoy running the show together. The New England Motel takes its namesake from the actual motel located on the grounds and is host to some of the only shaded pavilions at Brimfield, which house anywhere from 12 to 15 dealers in each of the three, a welcome respite from the hot sun during a scalding week.
“We’re nearly sold out,” said Richard LaVigné of Knollwood Antiques, Village of Thorndike, Mass., a few hours after the opening. The dealer said that a mix of retail buyers and designers contributed to his positive day. It also does not hurt that he and a number of other dealers in the same pavilion “create an indoor show at an outdoor show,” as he put it, by building walls and setting up elaborate booths as if it were an indoor antiques show. The dealer’s sales included a pair of 1950s Italianate trumeau mirrors, a pair of Asian-style side tables with shadow box interiors and a 1950s Chinese wine table with woven top.
In the same pavilion was Lisa Simoes-Correia and her husband Chuck Correia of the Mix Vintage & Antiques, Lakewood, Colo., who were selling at Brimfield for their first time. The dealers featured an eclectic mix of antique and modern furnishings, including a Nineteenth Century four-drawer American chest beneath a modern chandelier by Fredrick Ramond. The pair had sold a large Oriental rug as well as a pair of Borge Mogensen-style leather loveseats.
Peter Murphy of P.D. Murphy Antiques, Bath, Maine, featured two large Nineteenth Century copper cupolas in the front of his booth. The dealer also had a number of Nineteenth Century French mirrors, including an example with an oil on tin pastoral scene as well as a Louis XVI-style mirror with portrait medallion, which sold.
Japanese Satsuma was on offer at JSD Antiques, Durham, N.H. The display included a Meiji period dragon-form ewer, decorated with chrysanthemums, daisies, foliate, diaper work and lappet border; a cabinet vase with scenes of figures and landscapes; and a vase mounted on the back of an elephant with allover gilding, the design of saints and scholars and a writhing dragon.
Wednesday’s 10 am opening at Heart-O-The-Mart was a rush through the gate. “We had a good year,” show manager Pam Moriarty said, as she recounted her pleasure in the May and July shows. At 350 dealers strong, “this show looks like it’s going to be a good one,” she said.
There was plenty of Americana on hand from a dedicated group of dealers who always set up next to one another. These included Holden Antiques, Frank Gaglio, Gene Pratt, Jim Grievo, Bill Kelly, Scott Bassoff and Sandy Jacobs and others.
“I’ve been coming since 1971,” Grievo said. “And I’ve never missed a show. Not one. It makes me nervous saying that,” he said, as he looked around for something made of wood to knock on. At 141 shows, does Jim Grievo have the longest streak running of any dealer at Brimfield? If you or someone you know can beat it, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Setting up right across from him was Frank Gaglio, with a selection of Americana and folk art. When he heard Grievo’s streak, he said “Good. I don’t want anyone else in your spot.”
Iowa dealer Tom van Deest is an objects dealer with a distinct eye towards the sculptural. An Odd Fellows lodge staff with a snake curling up its shaft, circa 1890, was on the center of his table. It sat next to a nicely carved walking stick with a handle in the form of a ram and the body with deep relief of a woman, flowers and birds. A selection of vintage signage read “Open for Inspection,” “One Way,” “Open For Printing” and a sign for “Iowa Worm Powder.”
Firemen objects were on display in the booth of Chuck Deluca, Maritime Antiques Inc, York, Maine. He had a number of parade belts in red, white, blue and black all lined up, hailing from Augusta, Foreman and Baxter. Right behind were two old fire buckets.
Early Twentieth Century style was in a number of booths throughout the field.
“The interesting thing about this shade is that nobody knows who did it,” mused David Zabriskie, Lake Placid, N.Y., on a large Prairie School leaded glass lamp shade sitting on a table in his booth. “I’ve had 11 or 12 people who know what they’re talking about take a look at it. The prevailing thought is that it may be by Wilkinson or Bigelow and Kennard. But no one has seen anything like it, so we’re not sure.”
A set of four Arts and Crafts-style copper lanterns was in the booth of Stuart F. Solomon Antiques, Florence, Mass. “They’re by Michael Adams,” Solomon said. “He is a contemporary craftsman renowned for his copper work. These are a copy of a Stickley design for the Yates Hotel in Syracuse.” Adams works under Aurora Studios and creates loyal reproductions of important Arts and Crafts designs.
May’s Antiques Market
Even before the gates opened at May’s Antiques Market on May 6, shoppers, dealers and the field’s staff knew it was going to be Hot, Hot, Hot. Observed show manager Martha May inside the show office some 30 minutes before the opening bell, “I think everyone will come here to shop early before the afternoon heat sets in.” It was a prescient statement. While the opening displayed all the crowd enthusiasm one might expect from a market that promotes the idea that an untouched field offers the best buying environment, by late midday, most shoppers had made their purchases and were making their way back out the gates with their wagons, bags and armfuls.
Fox Antiques from nearby Sturbridge brought plenty of primitives and early American antiques. A staple exhibitor at the twice yearly Walker Homestead show, at May’s the dealer was showing a tavern table with breadboard ends and traces of the red paint it had once sported. There was a green document box, a handmade cutting board and a cheese box, circa 1900-10, stenciled with the name of its upstate New York maker.
In an adjacent row, Gregg Kaufman and his helpers from Full Service Estate Sale were setting out an eclectic stew seasoned with vintage Christmas ornaments, tied fly fishing lures, a display of vintage foreign cigarette brands and even a big bung that must have at one time been fitted into an enormous beer or wine cask. As the name implies, the East Meadow N.Y., dealer does whole house cleanouts, and among the somewhat predictable household detritus gleams the occasional gem. In this case it was a pristine 1918 Gibson F-style mandolin that had been consigned from a Queens, N.Y., family. Its former owner was said to have purchased it in 1918 for $5.50 and took it out of its case just once a year around Christmas time. Kaufman said today’s price was $6,000, entirely supported by its nearly untouched condition and inclusion of the original green plush hard case.
Things got busy early for Joe Borsari. By 10 am, the Brewster, Mass., dealer had already lightened his trip home by a sawbuck table, a stepback cupboard, painted firkins, stoneware and other Eighteenth Century and early Nineteenth Century items. As he was relating these sales, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, dealer Tom Van Deest came by to examine a horse weathervane, circa 1880, that Borsari said he had found in Dennis, Mass.
It is a big stretch to conjure up visions of snowmen when the air temperature is at 100 degrees and the dewpoint is 73 percent – but maybe not. Bob Eckstein’s snowmen do not melt. The cartoonist whose work appears in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Playboy and other magazines, was on hand to sign copies of his books The History of the Snowman, published by Simon & Schuster, and Footnotes from the World’s Greatest Bookstores, a New York Times bestseller. Eckstein has some 800 items relating to the iconic wintertime figure. “I always wanted to write a mystery,” he told Antiques and The Arts Weekly, “but a fun mystery. So I set out to discover who made the first snowman – and it was like finding a lottery ticket.”
Brimfield Auction Acres
As the week progressed, everyone had an eye towards Friday as they wiped the sweat from their brow and eagerly checked the weather app on their phones. The temperature finally broke overnight and sat at 60 degrees with an overcast blanket of clouds on Brimfield Auction Acres’ opening morning. Hundreds of buyers crowded the opening gate to get a jump at the opening bell and to see what dealers had brought.
“Sellers need to buy a permit from the town to sell here, or any other field, for the duration of the week,” Kate Corriveau explained. She owns and manages the field with her husband Rusty. “87 percent of our dealers buy them through us, so we know that’s our percentage of dealers who are bringing fresh merchandise that no one has seen during the week yet. That’s pretty good. And that’s why people come to Brimfield for our show.”
Elaine Fleming, Middleboro, Mass., and Judi and Cy Stellmach from Blue Dog Antiques, Stafford Springs, Conn., shared a tent this year, both exhibiting Americana and country items. Fleming showed off a nice, small, incised carved wall cupboard that she bought off a dealer in Vermont. The Stellmachs displayed an overflowing offering of colorful stone fruit.
Two other dealers found under the same tent included Robert Perry Antiques, Orchard Park, N.Y., and Nancy Fishelson. Their display appeared to be “night and day,” with Perry the former, showing off a mix of traditional dark-colored antiques, including a Nineteenth Century Shaker sewing table in its original red paint, and Fishelson the latter, exhibiting a color neutral display of textiles, signage and country wall shelves.
George Nash was in the midst of his first selling experience at Brimfield and brought with him a large collection of Native American silver and turquoise jewelry. “I’ve never sold at Brimfield,” he said. “I figured I would come and bring my collection of jewelry and see what people thought of it.” Judging by the many folks in his booth, I would say the crowd liked it as they looked through his rings, bracelets, necklaces and belts.
A sheet metal rooster weathervane with original paint was found outside the booth of Neal Blodgett, Higganum House Antiques, Higganum, Conn. It was hand wrought, circa 1840-60 and from Maine. The dealer also displayed a large assortment of cast iron pieces, intricate tools, butter molds, trade signs and an Eighteenth Century jailer’s flintlock in the shape of a key.
After permitting woes with the town, Kate Corriveau was pleased to say that the winery and cidery would finally be open for business a week following this September edition. They hope it draws more visitors to their field in the future.
Brimfield returns in 2019 with the following dates: May 14-19, July 9-14 and September 3-8.
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