Published: July 29, 2015
Review and Photos By Tom O’Hara
BRIMFIELD, MASS. — Several thousand shoppers joined the many hundreds of exhibiting dealers at more than 20 fields July 14–19 for Brimfield Antiques Week. For six days the tiny village was bursting at its boundaries, filling hotels for 20 miles around as exhibitors and shoppers came from all across the country to show their collections, sell and buy more antiques, collectibles and decorator items.
Tuesday’s weather forecast was not the best, but even so there was heavy traffic on the old Route 20. Cars and trucks and vans and trailers crawled slowly along, as drivers gawked at the offerings and looked for the best parking lot, while dealers made their way to their exhibit fields.
The fields were at typical capacity for the July edition of the Brimfield markets, especially given the less-than-perfect weather forecast for Tuesday, with Dealer’s Choice and Brimfield Acres North each near half full for their one-day affairs. At the opening of each, hundreds of anxious shoppers waited for the gates to be pulled back; dealers reporting good sales on both fields.
Michael Watts, Big Flats, N.Y., was selling Persian rugs and small antiques, while Vermonter Joseph Martin traded several pieces of New England folk art.
Gordon Stanley, Sedgwick, Maine, was showing his unusual collection of mackerel plows. Previously displayed at the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath, the collection was being sold by the piece. Mackerel plows are handmade tools specially made to gut and slice mackerel and some other fish in preparing them for market, Stanley noted. Bob DeLuca, Amesbury, Mass., was pleased with his morning, selling from a recent collection of clocks.
Brimfield Acres North had its usual exhibitors near the entrance: Dave Straight, Auctioneer, Sturbridge, Mass., across from Pat Greika and her family from Stafford, Conn. Straight was showing a collection of furniture in original surfaces and advertising. Pat sells all kinds of little things, but she especially collects small sewing notions and tools. Her adult children were offering American country furniture.
Coming from Plainwell in southern Michigan, Warren Barber was showing quilts. He also offered an assortment of primitive home furnishings, some in painted surfaces.
By Wednesday morning the numbers of shoppers seemed to have increased. The three fields that opened that day quickly filled and sales were reported as very good.
Dawn brings customers to New England Motel. Bette D’s Antiques, Fall River, Mass., offers mostly Nineteenth Century items for the home. Bette Daigle has been trading in this specialty for years and has a loyal following of customers and decorators.
Fenwood Studios, Mahopac, N.Y., had a great show, selling furniture big and small, according to Vin and Margaret Rowan. Vin reported the sale of a hutch table, a pine blanket chest, the long painted bench with stenciling, a New England schoolmaster’s desk, a gate-leg table in original surface and several small pieces. Penny Ross, Melbourne, Fla., said it was among her best Brimfield shows ever, nearly selling out all the antiques she brought.
Heart-O-The Mart opened on time at 9 am with a large crowd at its two gates. Greeting the shoppers were anxious exhibitors, including Andy Zilgme, Newport, R.I., with his carved friend, an 8-foot-tall statue that resembled Paul Bunyan. Zilgme said he was carved as a piece of folk art a number of years ago by a well-known artist.
Nearby, Dave Zabriskie, Lake Placid, N.Y., was selling from a collection of Persian rugs and small antiques and collectibles.
Matthew Robinson, Wiscasset, Maine, has been putting together a large tent full of friends at Heart for more than 20 years now, with very successful results.
The Holdens set up on the far side of the brook in Heart, where the field continues with more exhibitors. Hailing from Sherman, Conn., Anita and Ed like to focus on small antiques and American folk art. He especially likes to find and trade in weathervanes.
Across the aisle, Stockton, N.J., dealer Jim Grievo was selling from his collection of folk art. Well known for his collection, he rarely has anything larger than a tabletop piece and for the show this week one showcase was filled to the brim with fine small baskets.
Summer Brimfield has many visitors who make it a vacation trip to travel with friends for the week of unconventional shopping and camaraderie. A woman named Jane flew in from Dallas, with seven friends and stayed at a nice hotel in the area, renting one large passenger van for the entire group. A few of them had been to Brimfield before so they knew what to do, where to be and how to get around. Jane arrived at Hertan’s shortly after the noon Wednesday opening, finding a double tent shared by Jenkins Antiques from Shelbyville, Ind., and Easter Hill Antiques, Sharon, Conn., set up with Americana. While in the tent for over an hour she purchased nine small things, including a Georgian tea caddy, two tea caddy spoons and other coin silver objects for herself and as presents for family back home. Her friends were making similar purchases in the area.
Mays Antiques Show Thursday opened at 9 am with its usual “shotgun approach” of asking dealers not to unload until buyers enter. This makes the action exciting for the all who come through the gate, but if they run too fast, they miss some things.
Karen Alexander Antiques, Somers, Conn., was a little slow unloading and so a Georgian chandelier came out with the second wave of shoppers. One astute shopper saw dealer Sandy Doig removing it from the van, negotiated a price and the deal was done.
In less than ten minutes, Bill Union had an entire art show set up in his tent. Art and Antiques Gallery, Worcester, Mass., has been his trade name for many years, at shows and the shop, with paintings and small antiques.
On Friday, the J&J sisters opened their field at 8 am. Weather again was very good, a little cool, but bright sun encouraging the big crowds. In its usual spot near one entrance was Nippers Choice, Keene, N.H., specializing in Edison phonographs. On this morning there were dozens again ready for service, bright and shiny, just as when they were new about 100 years ago.
Charlton Classic Interiors, Charlton, N.Y., was nearby with a variety of furniture and smalls. Susan Fogg works hard to bring depth to their collection with a set of Hitchcock chairs, Persian rugs, transfer ware, primitive furniture and more.
Fine earthenware is the ticket for William and Teresa Kurau, Lampeter, Penn., who fill their exhibit with some wonderful examples of English transfer ware and featheredge. Their son, David, is now working somewhat on his own, but in the same business, buying and selling on the same field.
Brimfield in the summer was fun: great weather, good food, great shopping and a good time for shoppers and sellers. Look for a few changes this September when one of the fields, The Barns, will be changing its format, according to current exhibitors. Fall dates are September 8–13.
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