Monday, May 16, 2011

A highway of antiques?! Stop the car!

Casually known as  just "Brimfield," the week-long outdoor gathering of antique dealers from across the country in, you guessed it, Brimfield, Mass, spans each side of a highway. Literally, visitors walk up the road, which is littered with tents and tables. Off the road side are massive fields, and antique dealers fill the fields with their collectibles. Not only can you walk up the road and down the other side to check out the vendors, but you can follow paths horizontally, too. 
It's impossible to cover the entire place in a single day. And dealers set up for the entire week. I saw makeshift beds in the back of a moving truck! Those are some hardcore antiquers, let me tell you!
My dad set up at Brimfield this year and I attended for the first time ever, dragging Sean along.  It was so hard to focus on what was in front of me because everything was in front of me! I'm a pretty savvy antiquer and a serious haggler. I grew up attending flea markets and meandering through antique shops with my father repeating "Don't touch anything!" to my brother and I. It was only natural that I would fall in love with collecting old things. The only problem at Brimfield is the dealers know what they've got or they stick high prices on items to make up for the gaping hole in their wallets from which the gas prices sucked out every penny from traveling across the country to set up there. 
I gave myself a budget of $50 and ended up only spending half that. I'm cheap! There was tons of over-priced Pyrex dishes (none in my pattern, though!) and painted drinking glasses. One of my favorite finds are these 11x14 prints.  Under one tent, a large, yellow and black box caught my eye - I can spot Kodak paraphernalia immediately (It's a photographer thing!) and I opened it to find amazing prints. Sean took home the Red Sox print and I couldn't leave the 3D glasses print. How awesome is that!? It's hard to see up close, but two people up front have 3D glasses over their regular glasses!
We also couldn't leave this one. It's so cooky and strange and fantastic. Bandits with guns and bugles, pulling a cart that says "Funerals, a service." On the top is a banner that reads "Oh Fudge!" Hahaha! I can't wait to put this up in our living room!
Literally seconds after telling Sean to be on the lookout for printing press letters, we came across an entire tent of them. I shmoozed up the guy to get the back story on how someone could amass more than 10, five-gallon buckets of metal letters, as well as to get a smooth start to the haggling process. Hey, it works! Three months ago he purchased the City of Boston's publishing company for $13,000. And then sold it piece by piece. There were millions of little letters, even periods, at what would be considered 10 point font. He still had chunks put together and tied with string that said "From the office of the Mayor..." It was amazing. I absolutely love the history and stories behind antique pieces. There's just something about touching an item that came from the 1800s or early 1900s - it's so much more fulfilling than reading about it in a book. 
I snatched up the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' seal (in the middle) and letters to spell my name. This font was the largest of the blocks left. I had found "s-t-i-n" and was bummed I couldn't fund the rest. Then, Sean goes, "Oh, I saw that kind right over here" and pulls out a k, r and an i! Awesome! I grabbed a large W (and it's red to boot!) and Sean's initials. He snagged a "K" and an "S."
Rounding out my fun finds is this enamel Daisy brooch. So cute and happy! I wore it attached to my cardigan today at work. Operation dress like Emma Pillsbury is underway!

There were so many fun little pieces to check out! I had hoped to meet up with my friends Rich and Jed, but while we were there at the same time, it was impossible to be on a good lookout! Ahh! Rich, I think I found your pattern? I think? :)

 The show will be back in July, but my Dad suggests skipping that round because it's just too hot - and not many dealers set up. Another time frame is in September. And I will definitely be there! 


  1. can you tell me when the fallish one is? the flea markets around here suck. unless you want nazi memorabilia...


  2. These pictures are fabulous, and that pin is so very Emma Pillsbury!

  3. I really think we are twins. Those dishes you took a picture of (the ones with the blue and green trees and flowers)... I have the matching glasses to those! I bought my first set at an estate sale a few years back, and found a shorter set at Savers last month! I'd love to go in Sept too! (Also I can't wait for you to photograph our wedding. I'm in love with all these pics.)


  4. I just found your blog looking for pics of the printing press letters from Brimfield, I was there too and saw that tent but didn't get any. Do you mind posting what you paid or the general price range for the letters? I might go back in July and get some for a few projects.

    Great pictures! This was my first trip and I can't wait to go back.

  5. Hi Jennifer!
    The letter seller was asking $1 per piece. I chose the largest ones I could find because I thought the price was a bit high. I ended up with 13 letters and ended up paying $10 for them!

    What projects are you working on? I hope to find the large, wooden letters at some point. I'll just have to keep on searching! :)