In 1959, Gordon Reid started the Brimfield Antique Show when he invited 67 dealers to set up in a field behind his house. From those humble beginnings, Brimfield has grown into the largest outdoor antique show in the world! There are an estimated 5,000 dealers and over a quarter million visitors who now attend the shows.
Even if you aren’t a serious antique collector, it’s worth a trip to people watch and see what people are selling and buying. The 2014 show dates are May 13-18, July 8-13 and September 2-7.
There are over 20 “fields” that open on staggered schedules. Tuesday at dusk is the official start time. At the fields that open on Tuesday morning, dealers are unpacking in the middle of the night for the rush of buyers. Tuesday is the busiest day with well over half of the fields opening. Other fields open Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Some dealers switch field locations so that they can sell to the throng of buyers who show up at each opening.
The first buyers at a field opening are typically serious collectors or dealers. They run or sometimes ride bicycles asking each dealer if they have cast iron cookware, motorcycle memorabilia, sports collectibles or whatever else they are seeking. Some wear t-shirts announcing they are looking for a certain collectible like Bakelite radios. I would see one man regularly who had a piece of paper in his hat band announcing that he was looking for gambling memorabilia. Another always had a sandwich board letting sellers know he wanted to buy phonograph horns.
People from around the country and around the world come to Brimfield to buy and sell. Sellers travel from throughout the Northeast but I’ve also met dealers from the South, Midwest and even from Europe. The European dealers will ship a container of their wares to the States and transport them to the field. There are also European buyers who make the trip to shop at Brimfield. We sold a chair that was purchased by an Austrian couple. They said they buy enough material for a container that makes the reverse route of the sellers, going from the States to Europe.
The show has changed over the years. Many “pickers” used to come with truckloads of items they had accumulated and sell everything at prices that appealed to the buyer. The internet changed things with some things being sold online instead of making it to antique shows. Some people still like to shop where they can see and touch something and can buy it right there and not have to wait for it to be shipped.
If a trip to Brimfield is in your future, there are some things that you should bring with you. You’ll be doing lots of walking, so bring comfortable shoes. The weather can change in minutes. Have sunscreen, a jacket and raingear with you. In the May and September shows you might even want a winter coat, hat and gloves as I’ve seen plenty of frost and freezing temperatures there.
Brimfield is a major event that draws some big names in the world of entertainment. There are many antique related shows that tape there. Celebrity sightings include Oprah Winfrey, Mick Jagger, Martha Stewart and Meryl Streep. When I was selling at one of the shows in the 1990’s Penny Marshall was there shopping. Even if you don’t get the great buy on an antique you were looking for you might be able to get a star to take a picture with you!
Contact us at: Central Mass Auctions – Wayne Tuiskula Auctioneer/Appraiser – Estate Specialists: Antique Estate Auctions, Estate Sales and Appraisal Services www.centralmassauctions.com (508-612-6111), email@example.com.
If you have any questions about antique auctions and estate sales, call Wayne Tuiskula, Auctioneer/Appraiser at 508-612-6111 or email us today.
Our articles are published in the Webster Times, Spencer New Leader, Auburn News, Blackstone Valley Tribune, Charlton Villager, Killingly Villager, Putnam Villager, Sturbridge Villager, Thompson Villager and Woodstock Villager.