Thursday, at Brimfield, is a short and easy day for me--and generally not
very productive. The only new field to open is "Mays", which is a large
grassy field that hosts as many as 600 dealers (and today it was near to being
completely full). The field opens at 9am, with the dealers not allowed to
display their goods until the gates open. This is a good practice, as it
reduces the dealer to dealer picking that goes on at the other fields, except
for Hertan's. By the way, when a dealer rents a space in one of the closed
fields, he/she gets one or more additional credentials that can be given to
friends, who can then get access to the field, and buy before the public gets
in. From the public's perspective, this is not a good practice.
With but a single field opening at a relatively late hour, I could sleep in,
have breakfast with Barbara, and then drive to Brimfield in time for the
opening. This is one day that Barb likes to come along, and she always
manages to find a nice piece of jewelry for herself. Because of the late
opening, the traffic on U.S. Rte 20 between I-84 and I-90 in Sturbridge, and
Brimfield is usually bumper to bumper for miles as 9am approaches. The few
wise heads will take a back road from Sturbridge, and avoid the traffic on Rte
20. We did just that this morning, and saw not another car for the entire
detour. It is a tricky route, and using MapQuest will get you lost..
When we arrived at the back gate at 8:45am, the line was the longest I've seen.
But it is a congenial group of people, and when the gates open, everything goes
Because tools tend to be scarce here, I generally take my time, and look
things over closely. I spotted a little English double arm marking gage
early on, and negotiated a reasonable price, so the tool back got anointed
pretty quickly. This was followed by an interesting caliper with steel
head and a brass arm, graduated in inches one side and centimeters on the other.
It was nice looking at cheap, so I bought it--even though it was probably
French. In about 15 minutes a really nice Underhill slick showed up.
The dealer had the same one last September. Today we negotiated until the
difference between us was $30. I left, figuring that if he still had it at
noon, he might come down some more.
After that I didn't find too much, except for a Kimball & Sons draw knife
that will clean up to be great, and a very nice set of thread chasing tools that
were almost unused, with some still in their original wax sealing. But I
had a good time talking to some of the scrimshaw guys, and looking over several
whaling log books, whalebone implements, and such. The New Bedford Whaling
Museum's annual Scrimshaw Weekend starts tomorrow afternoon, and many of these
dealer/collectors will be there. So this was kind of a preview for me.
By 10am it was time to meet Barb for a cup of coffee, and commiserate over
the weather (cloudy, cool, windy, and threatening rain). Fortunately the
rain held off until just as we were leaving at noon. But after the coffee
break, my first circuit of the field produced nothing further. After going
back to our beginning point, I started over again, and near the back row found a
guy set up with some nautical things. One small box caught my eye.
It was a wooden one with a double slide top with ivory and ebony blocks forming
a cribbage board. The sides and midline were sheathed with baleen.
The top opened to expose a small box with the ebony and whalebone pegs for the
game. Although obviously not too old, and with some engraved decoration
that looked machine made, the baleen was right and made it a nice piece.
Best of all the price was modest. So it went into the sack.
Just a couple of dealers further on, one had a ratty looking Stanley No. 1
plane sitting out. No front knob, much japanning missing, and rusty to the
point of some moderate pitting. Asked for the price, it turned out to be
$1200. Kind of high, most would think. But the guy also had a
rosewood screw arm plow plane sitting on his other table. This one was in
much better condition than you usually see them, and his price for that was not
outlandish. So, after a little dickering, he came down to a fair price for
the rosewood plane. It joined the baleen box.
Buy now it was time to meet Barb, and I found that she had indeed located a
jade necklace the met her fancy, so we strolled together having a good time
looking at all sorts of strange thing. On this saunter I did find a clean
and shiny Yankee 30 screw driver, and a very nice larger size Wilkinson folding
draw knife. That about closed our buying for the day. So we got into
the car and the rain started in earnest, and met my sister in Sturbridge for a
long and pleasant lunch, getting caught up on all the family news. It was
a nice day. J&J's field opens tomorrow--but at 8am, instead of the usual
6am. I hope to be there.