Thursday, September 11, 2014

Brimfield antiques part 2: shopping the show

     If you live in the northeastern US, 3 times a year the Brimfield antiques show takes over the antiques world, dealers, collectors, decorators all converge on a tiny Massachusetts hamlet for a week long multi venue event.  If you are familiar with Rennigers, or Brooklyn flea, or the Rose bowl flea market then you already have a feel for what Brimfield is.
     Antiques in New England are big business, bigger than in many other places of the country. Logically it's the oldest part of the country so there has historically been more "old stuff" here.  Shopping a show like this I have found takes a different set of skills than buying on the Internet as I alluded to in part one of my post. I discovered that I was not the best suited for shopping a fast paced show, by my third day I had learned to adjust my style to better suit a show environment.  Something that I worry about and you need to keep in the back of your mind, is that there are a certain number of "dealers" out there who misrepresent their wares, I think sometimes I'm so worried about these situations that I miss good things when they are presented. Knowledge is king when buying antiques in general, doubly important when you are in an environment like Brimfield, buyer beware is the rule. Mistakes were made, deals missed, and some great items found, all in all a great experience, not to be my last.
     I went to Brimfield with an open mind, but truthfully I had a mental list of things I wanted to find, on my list was a tellurian I figured at a show like this I'd see several that I could browse and buy, a thousand booths later ( not exaggerating) I found zero even offered for sale. Of course I also wanted globes, but they too proved elusive.  That's OK because what I've learned is that it's the unexpected items that make a trip to a show worthwhile.
7:30 am waiting for J+J to open at 8am

6:45 am  route 20 Brimfield MA
     Our days started early some fields open as early as 6am, we were up by 5am and parked by quarter to 7 each morning,  I was not one of those folks that stand in line looking for a score, I made a habit of strolling onto fields generally 20 minutes after they opened, no line, no fuss a good compromise I think.  We were there during the week, on weekends I'm told crowds are more, but since the show ends on Sunday deals might be better.  Again I opted to avoid the weekend and the crowds, although the crowds by mid day were nerve wracking enough, all part of the experience I guess. With such an early start I was exhausted by 1 or 2 in the afternoon. Back to my hotel for a dip and a nap, ready to go again the next morning.
     Brimfield is broken up into about 20 different " fields" all independent of one another but loosely organized into one show week, some fields are better than others some more flea market, others more antiquey. My favorite field was May's they seemed to vet their dealers a bit better, I saw a lot of quality items on this field, another favorite was Heart of the Mart, again nice quality, less flea, more antiques on this field, I left several " should have bought" items on both of these fields. Pictured above the J+J field opens only Friday and Saturday I went opening day and to be honest was underwhelmed by the quality. This is surprising because they are often touted as the best field by other sources, but a lot depends on what you are looking for, I think.
     So with all this time, and effort invested did I score anything great, well yes, quite a few things, I actually had little room left in my vehicle and little cash left in my wallet, success I'd say. One item that I purchased for my collection I will share.   Here is a display case from about the 1880's that would have sat on a counter of a department or general store, it is 24 inches tall, 14 inches square, and glass on 4 sides, complete with original lock and key. I plan on using it to display my smallest globes, ornate, over the top, and best of all dust free!  What good is having a collection if it can't be artfully displayed.
1880's store display case
     I would love to see some great globe display ideas from you.  How do you live with your collection? What works best for you. Please share via email and I'd love to post some display ideas from others anonymously, and with permission of course.  I really need some great Ideas, as I have noticed that I am fast running out of display space............

As always please feel free to comment, criticize or discuss! 

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