Tuesday

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.

Moving 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 like these.

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!

After 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.

 

At 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!

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