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 quickly.

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.

After 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.

Next 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!