The Late Summer (Sept) Brimfield Fair.  Tuesday, Sept 6, 2011

With the cooler days of late summer, the September edition of the Brimfield Antiques Fair is second in popularity to the May rendition.  More dealers populate the fields than in July, and buyers tend to show up in abundance.  The weather is usually cooperative.  Today, however, was a bit different.  I left the house about 4 am under a cloudy sky.  The forecast called for 30% chance of showers.  40 minutes into the trip, and through Providence, RI, I ran into the 30 percenter--in spades.  65 mph in a driving rain down a highway under construction is not fun.  I could see why folks claim that the State Flower of Massachusetts is the orange construction drum!

At 5:30 am I pulled into my parking lot, and pulled on my raingear.  There was a touch of irony here.  About 4 years ago I scored a Lee's Patent Chamfer plane at Brimfield, and used the proceeds to fund a trip to New Zealand.  The rain suit I pulled this morning was purchased for that trip, and was a product of that Brimfield find.  As usual I hustled over to the Quaker Acres field that opens at dawn, and at my first stop bought a really nice lignum vitae fid.  I have weaknesses for fids and lignum vitae tools, so this combination was irresistible.  My next regular stop was to my friend from New Jersey, Gary.  But his stand was not open yet--the rain was coming down hard.  So I killed some time poking in those stands that were open--no luck.  After killing 45 minutes, I left the field, and moved east to look at the early fields down that way.  At Crystal Brook I picked up a decent example of the Evans patent circular plane (1862). lacking only an easy to find blade, and then a Yankee 130 ratchet screw driver in its early yellow boxes.  These older boxes are not very common.  After that, it was back to see if Gary had gotten out of bed.

He had, and had saved an interesting group of pattern makers small tools for me.  There were 11 brass-bodied shaves, planes, and scorps in the group, and we agreed on a good price, with an ebony handled Stanley tri-mitre square and a 6" Stanley No. 21 combo square thrown in.

After this, it was back to the truck to unload the tools and the bladder, and then on to the west.  The first field uncovered a couple of small treasures.  One was a Stanley No. 7C jointer and a Stanley 945 brace in new condition.  The brace was marked for a company that I'd never seen a Stanley brace be dedicated to.  As I was leaving I spied a little tool handle in the mode of the Stanley 305 sort.  But this was not a Stanley and was marked with an 1872 patent date not familiar to me.  All the tools were present, so it went into the backpack.  Next to the west is the Central Park field, which is the abode of my dealer friend Buzz.  He had, as usual some interesting edge tools and planes.  I purchased two complex molders from him--an A. Fish (Lowell) and a massive Copland & Co plane, both in great condition--an Underhill slick with original handle, and a type 1 Stanley No. 1 infill square.  An additional small  buy across the street was a German patter cobbler's hammer (I always like these), that had the additional attraction of being signed (they almost never are).

After removing these tools to the truck, it was getting toward ten o'clock, and time to move way to the west in anticipation of the opening of the first admission field (Dealer's Choice) at 11am.  The rain had slackened by this point, and life was getting a bit sweeter.  I did buy a few tools on the way down rte 20, including a Stanley 248 plane and a Craftsman edition of the type 1 Sargent No. 79 Filletster & Rabbet plane.  The later types look like the Stanley No. 78, but the early ones have a great and distinctive look to them.  The same dealer had a very early example of the Sargent No. 32 Try & Mitre Square, with 1909 patent.  This is a scarce tool.  Other tools gathered included a pre-Stanley No. 30 Yankee screw driver in crispy condition, and a clean, but unmarked, strap handled upholsterer's hammer.


With just a few minutes before the Dealer's Choice field opened, I had time to chat briefly with a soda fountain collector (always interesting to get some perspective on the collector psyche) before the gates opened.  While the rain had just about stopped, the soggy morning had dissuaded many of the dealers to show up, so the field was poorly populated.  This field has several scrimshaw dealers, so I spent a good bit of time jawing with them, and catching up on the nautical news.  I did purchase one tool--a double ended one, with a spoke pointer at one end, and a reamer at the other.  It is a neat thing.  About the only other tool of note, was a nice Stanley No. 9 mitre block plane, without the hotdog handle.  The asking price ($1300) was too steep for me.  Faced with a bit of a dilemma--I had several pounds of tools hanging from my back, and the Brimfield North field ready to open across the street--should I walk the mile back to the truck, unload the back pack, and come back unencumbered; or just tough it through?  I chose the walk--made good time, and returned for the opening of the field

A quick circuit of the field uncovered almost no tools.  Right at the bottom, I found Bruce Marcus (earlier galoot) and bought a Sargent (it was a Sargent day) No. 43 scraper plane from him.  Not too long after I found Ed Luks, from Massachusetts, and he had some interesting things.  Several of these were double micrometer (that are very uncommon tools) and some other interesting things.  I bought a "micrometer ring" from him that had three Brown & Sharp micrometers, arranged to measure the diameters of fluted taps (never seen one before), a spiffy Stanley No. 90 bullnose rabbet plane, and a Stanley 60 1/2, in the box. 

By this time the rains had returned, and it was time to leave.  Tomorrow is another day, with three new fields opening.