Today, Wednesday, sees three new fields open at the Brimfield Antiques Fair.
These are "New England Motel" at 6am, "Heart of the Mart" at 9am, and "Jean
Hertan's" at noon. With little action occurring before six, there is no
real need to get to the show super early, so I could sleep in for an extra hour,
planning to hit the parking lot about 5:45am. Since sunrise is about
5:30am, flashlights are not needed, and a predicted high temperature of 70'F,
means that heavy shirts are not needed.
The drive to Brimfield is almost automatic now, and takes me through a number of
towns that ring with the names of the seeds of Albion--Swansea, Somerset,
Blackstone, Uxbridge, Northbridge, Sturbridge, etc--named by homesick settlers
in the 17th century. Others carry the names of early New England
pioneers--Whitinville, Fiskdale, Snellsville, Douglas--and provide food for
historical thought as the path to Brimfield is trod. The trip goes
This morning was a time for caution. The police were active, nailing a
speeder in Somerset, and another--a tool guy-- in Sturbridge.
New England Motel opened at 6am on the dot, and there was a good crowd crashing
the gates. I jumped in the lead, and reached the best likely source of
tools first, grabbing a Simonds flooring saw (don't see many of these), a Yankee
No. 43 push drill, a big English try square with rest, and a No. 14 Hahn jointer
plane, that was a descendant of the early Siegley patent bench plane. It
is not a common plane. The price for the pile was ok.
stashing the awkward-to-carry first purchases in a dealer friend's tent (and
expressing interest in a pair of mahogany fids that he had), a more leisurely
search of the field ensued. There was lots of tool-guy competition, which
meant that you had to look closely, and in unlikely places to get some tools at
decent prices. The first score came in a shed that was largely populated
with the glitzy watch and jewelry crowd. This is the place to find the
small ivory rule. And a little one--equivalent to the Stanley No. 0 did
turn up. It was in great condition, but was most likely English in origin
(these little ones, 0 and 00, are never marked, but the condition and price were
right, so into the pocket it went. Next was another rule, simple but the
hard to find (in this condition) Stanley No. 34 1/4 school rule.
Finally my purchases were closed out with a pair of English wedge lock slide arm
filetster planes with good nickers. In nice condition, they were more than
worth the price. Going back to my stash, I found that my friend, Bill
Joyce of Milo, Maine, had tucked the fids in my bag with a much lower than
expected price. This was a pleasant field today. The finds were not
all that great, but I had a chance to schmooze with a number of old friends, and
generally get the impression that business is pretty good in the antiques trade.
on the agenda was the opening of Heart of the Mart. This is a big field,
with lots of fancy high end antiques, and is generally not a good tool field.
I started slowly, garnering only a slide top box from from a non-tool dealer.
The box was in good shape, but had a label stating that the box contained "6
Witherby 3/4" Socket Chisels." Her price did not take that into account.
Next that caught my eye was a dealer standing amidst a modest collection of
glass, including a couple of milk glass, "hens on nest." Now my wife
collects these (she has about 250 of them), and these struck my eye as
different. So, following a phone call to her and describing them, she
directed that I purchase one of them--"regardless of cost." So I was able
to talk the guy down a bit (he didn't know squat about glass chickens), and
Barbara is now gleefully working over her references, identifying it.
Maybe the best thing I purchased today.
After looking at some over price scrimshaw pieces I did finally find a
couple of tools worth buying--a 6" MF brace, and very nice toothing plane, and
an uncommon lead-faced machinist hammer. So desperate was the moment that
I also ended up buying a "fish knife" from a high end guy that had a handle
carved and painted in the form of a fish, with a blade made from a thick saw
blade (teeth were on the back for scaling). The handmade leather sheath
was kind of nice. Fairly cheap too. A final purchase was a nifty,
but well used, marking gage fitted with a whale bone fixing screw and whale
ivory double locking shoe. John, a friendly dealer from Connecticut, saves
these for me.
With Heart of the Mart finished for me, I moved back to the truck, unloaded, and
ate an early lunch. Then, 15 minutes before noon, I walked the Jean
Hertan's field. The rules of this field are unique. Buyers can walk
the field, but dealers can not expose their wares or sell before the bell rings
at noon. It is tough for some dealers to hide everything, and I spotted a
pair of Disston D-8 thumbhole saws in one spot. I asked the dealer
what she would sell them for, and it was a good price, so I asked her to put
them aside for me--which she was happy to do. At least I was assured of
something! When the bell rang, the crowd was enthusiastic and tough to get
through. But I did manage to get a small Sperm Whale tooth for a good
price, and then a set of number stamps. Earlier I'd seen an early display
of 8 Stanley rules, way over-priced. Figuring the dealer would never sell
the rules near his prices, I worked back to him and suggested that he wasn't in
the ball park. He allowed that he had bought the rules years ago, and
hadn't been able to sell them (this was not a tool dealer). So I offered
him 30% of his asking prices for the whole lot--and he accepted the offer.
So eight rules went in the bag, and the day was finished.
Tomorrow, Thursday, is the Mays field at 9. My bride of 44 years will go
along tomorrow, and we'll have lunch afterward with my sister. It looks
like a good time!