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
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
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
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.
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