Today, Sept. 2, 2008 was the first day of the Fall session of Brimfield. At
daybreak the "constantly opened fields" are available, with dealers opening
their tents as they awake. At 5am (when I get there) it is pretty dark, and a
flashlight is a necessity for peering into the dark corners of dealers tents. It
also is cool, and Iíll wear a long sleeve shirt, ready to peel it off to a tee
shirt as the day warms. Good walking shoes, shorts, a baseball cap, and a light
backpack with extra handled cloth bags complete the uniform.
Today I started at the Quaker Acres field, and visited dealers who have had
tools in the past. That wasnít the case today. One of my steady suppliers had as
new stock only a nice copper washed take down square. It was probably made by
Sargent, but was marked, "Craftsman". Even though it was in great condition, and
had the older S-shape logo in an oval, I passed. It is tough to sell anything
marked Craftsman, and his price ($85) was high. I figured he might come down to
$50, but that was still not a money maker for me.
on (to the east) I visited the fields down to Mahogany Ridge with no luck. One
dealer had a nice Stanley 9 Ĺ block plane, but the owner was away, and it was
not worth while hanging around to see if he wanted $10-$15 for it (my top
price). On the way back east, I did spot, in a case of small things (always look
for the small stuff) a two-fold brass blacksmithís rule, and a small indicating
caliper. The rule turned out to be English (Rabone), which, like Craftsman, is
the kiss of death. The indicating caliper, however, although deeply tarnished
was a Kimball & Talbot (pat 1863) No. 1 (the smallest size). Iíll always buy
these (they are not common), and after getting 30% off the asking price, put it
in my pocket..
Further West, up rte 20 I made a pass through the Central Park field,
and started to see some tools. At one stop. I managed to pick up three decent
chisels (the handles need help), including a Stanley 750, a PS& W small firmer,
and a Swan framer. The best item was a larger Goodell Pratt eggbeater drill in
its original box, in wonderful condition. The price was right, and they went
into the bag.
Just two doors to the east a pleasant couple had some nautical
things, and after spending some time in conversation, I bought a T-handled ship
auger that had a turned whalebone handle, and a very curious hewing hatchet with
two curved edges. I suspect that it might have been a cooperís tool for
splitting out barrel staves. But whatever, it as in great condition, and very
unique. This dealer also had a group of two hawsing irons (two man caulking
irons), along with a very rare tool with a reservoir for applying pitch to the
seams of an old wooden vessel. The priced the group at $1200, which was
laughable, given the hawsing irons were maybe worth $50 each. So I passed those,
but bought the auger and the hatchet (above). Anytime you can find a tool
with whalebone handle, wedge, etc, it should not be passed up. Collectors
The next stop, to the west, included a couple of dealers whoíve sold me lots
of stuff in the past. The second of these had what I consider to be my best find
of the day. This was a group of four quality carving chisels (2 are Addis) that
had been re-handled by a master. Each handle was different, and included inlays,
burl wood, etchings, etc. I think they are wonderful. Look at the pictures.
These border on folk art! They were not cheap, but are simply wonderful!
this find, I continued to the west, through the Meadows field, finding a
uncommon MF push drill with rosewood handle and a friction fit magazine cap (not
a screw top) that Iíve not seen before, and a couple of spoke shaves in nice
condition. These included a Stanley No. 53 with V-logo, and the quite rare
Stanley No. 63-X shave. This is the first of the latter that Iíve found in the
wild. It books to $125, and this find made a good day even better.
A bit later I came across a Starrett No. 92 wing divider in Fine condition
for decent money, and later picked up an unusual tool handle that I think is
English. It has a heart-shaped fixing screw in the chuck, and bits that are like
miniature brace bits with notches in the tangs. Iíve not seen one like it. A
clean Stanley No 51 shave, and a vial of the old MF fluted bits (these are tough
to find) filled out the field. The bits were a gift from an old dealer friend.
At the final open field I visited "Tom," a dealer friend from who comes from
Sherburne Falls, Ma. He always has eclectic stuff. Today I picked up a second
example (for me) of a very unusual sighting level, and a small jewelerís anvil.
Both were priced right.
Now it was time to go back to the truck to unload, and get
ready for the two fields that open near midday on Tuesday. The walk back was a
long one, but en route I stopped in Central Park again, and my dealer friend,
Richard, had saved out a Mathieson ebony and brass level. This wasnít an
ordinary one, but had been reworked, to add side views, and featured a
perforated brass top plate that gave it a nice look.
the truck it was time for a cool brew, and then the long hike back to the west
for the opening of the "Dealersí Choice" field. Waiting for the gates to open
gave some time to chat with other tool dealers. In these little
gatherings, held throughout the day, finds are announced rumors circulate ("Did
you see the No. 9 in the field? It had some problems.") When the
gates opened, the initial rush was disappointing. Eventually I visited a
Texas/Maine dealer who specializes in nautical stuff. He had saved a Drew & Co.
marlin spike for me and a nifty large cocobolo fid, plus an ebony sailmakerís
seam rubber. They werenít cheap, but are nice. With a little time before the
Brimfield North field opened across the street I did some schmoozing with
dealers who had interesting stuff. One was an ivory cane guy, who was quite
outspoken about some of the scrimshaw doyens that I know. Another fella had a
very curious brass lantern that focused light through a prism out the bottom of
the lantern. It was unique, and I thought that he had it underpriced. He also
had a cane with a carved head that he thought was gutta percha, and a shaft
formed from disks of leather. I showed him that the head was carved from ebony.
I shoulda bought it for the $100 he was asking, but hey, Iím a good guy
(sometimes). Just before leaving I did buy what is surely the nicest Stanley No.
55 plane Iíve ever had. Not an early one (it dates from the 1940s), it has
probably never been used, and is in its original wooden box, with great labels
and is totally complete with instructions, screw driver, tissue wrapped parts,
and even a very nice Stanley No. 34 catalogue of the period. Not cheap, but
still a good deal.
The final field to open (Brimfield North) comes alive at 1:00pm. After
toting my Dealerís Choice tools back to the truck, and returning, I was getting
tired. This last field opened to a hot, sunny sky which sapped the energy from
my aging bones. I picked up a couple of ordinary wooden planes, and talked with
some friends, but the gas had gone out of the tank. The pickings were slim here,
(folding draw knife, crispy Yankee 130 screw driver, Cumings jack plane, and a
second jewelerís anvil mounted on a heavy piece of oak) but thatís ok. It was a
good day. By the time I reached truck for the last time, the gps odometer had
clocked in 10.6 miles of walking. Home, and to bed, getting ready for tomorrow!