Brimfield Experiences

For several years I've posted messages to the "oldtools" discussion list, regularly reporting my experiences at the Brimfield Antiques Fair.  This giant flea market is held three times a year (in May, July, and September) for nearly a week--Tuesday through Sunday--on each session.  Details about "Brimfield" can be found at the official Brimfield website, including maps, dates, and information about the various "fields" that comprise the show. It is a colorful, exciting, and sometimes exasperating experience, and it is a major source of tools for my collections and dealing activities.

  My purpose in writing about these experiences is mainly to give people new to tool collecting some tips about how to approach flea markets, antique fairs, and shows--at least the way I do it.  So, through these reports there will be scattered nuggets of how to plan and navigate a course through Brimfield, how to look for the items of interest (tools in various forms), how to approach dealers, how to negotiate a price with them (and how not to do this), how to establish relationships with dealers for future considerations, how to evaluate a tool with respect to rarity, condition, and desirability, and so forth.  There is additional information here, for the neophyte, specific to the Brimfield fair--its various fields, timing, weather conditions, and other specific situations

People embarking on learning about the world of tool collecting, should realize at the outset that I'm not a true "collector".  I just don't have that gene!  While I do have a collection of patent American bit braces, and a much smaller one of hand saws marked by New Bedford hardware stores, they don't receive the attention that a "true" collector would give them.  Rather, I consider myself to be more of an historian.  It is fascinating for me to find a tool made by a maker with which I'm not familiar.  This provides an opportunity to delve into the history of the tool--where it was made, who may have patented it, who manufactured it--and then to put it in a larger context of tool making and the historical features of that time period.  Once able to answer some of these questions to my satisfaction, I will store the tool away--or more likely sell it to raise capital to buy other interesting tools.  This paragraph leads to the following important point.

Since my tool interests are catholic, I acquire a variety of tools--braces, saws, planes, chisels, drills, screw drivers, carving tools, machinist tools, hammers, shipbuilding tools, sail making tools, etc etc.  So, if you follow me around the fields of Brimfield you will find that I purchase many more tools, of a larger variety, than will a dedicated collector, of say, patented American planes.  While I'm buying 30 or so tools a day, that collector might be happy buying just one item in four days.  So my "success" at Brimfield is distorted because I cast a much wider net than does the true collector.

And (to add another aspect of this last point) because I've become reasonably familiar with the values of most of the commonly seen tools, I will often buy them for reasons other than their interest value to me.  That is, I buy lots of tools purely to sell and thereby support my "tool habit."

With this introduction you can move onto the day by day accounts of some forays through the Brimfield Fair.  Beginning with the most recent experiences at Brimfield, the last four accounts cover the first four days of the September, 2008 show.  Later, I'll try to dig out some of the older accounts, and add them to this page, while putting the most recent reports at the top.

May, 2014

July, 2013

May, 2013

July & Sept, 2012

Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Friday, Sept 11, 2009

Wednesday, Sept 9, 2009

Tuesday, Sept 8, 2009

Friday, July 17, 2009

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Friday, May 15, 2009

Tuesday, Sept 2, 2008

Wednesday, Sept 3, 2008

Thursday, Sept 4, 2008

Friday, Sept 5, 2008.



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