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 Page 3 

THE MAY 2011  



By Carlton Hendricks


16 pages - 16,521 words - 33 photo pages

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Harvard Square and  University grounds

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Leavitt & Peirce 

Tobacco Shop

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Basketball Hall of
Fame, Springfield MA

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Harvard University Sports Trophies at Murr Center

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Yale Univ. Trophy Room
at Payne Whitney Gym

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Museum of 
Fine Arts Boston



Driving into Brimfield



"Brimfield is the Woodstock of antique shows...you are playing at the pro level...and there will be pain! Competition?...get ready for it...There are fields of collectors loaded for bear...well heeled New Yorkers who are as serious as you. They drove hard to get there, and they aren't taking prisoners"


This was the Brimfield I'd heard about...and pretty much, that is the way it is.  Having never been to it I did as much research I could on what my approach would be once I hit the ground. Like a Navy Seal going in for Bin Laden, I looked at it from every angle....checking weather.com continually the two weeks prior the show. My friend Tom Cardaropoli who I met on eBay, handle walnutts  ....a Brimfield veteran from Cape Cod, gave me the scoop on where to hit first on which days, even down to which parking lots to use on each day. Little tips like parking are important when you understand how big Brimfield is. Having your car one block from the road instead of four is important when you need to stash something. Parking is another reason you want to get there early! If you're serious, you want to conserve your energy to make it thru the day. Bring rain gear, bring shorts, bring heavy boots for the mud....have it with you for what ever the weather brings, said my friend Ryan Sims in Los Angeles....They set up even if it rains I asked...I got a chuckle...Dude he said...they're pros, the show goes on no matter what he said. The first couple days I was getting there around 5:30AM...as the week wore on it got closer to 7:00 A.M....By four or five in the afternoon you're shot and just want to get out of there. One day on the way home I had to stop in one of the food and gas turnouts on Interstate 90 and slept an hour before continuing back to my hotel in West Springfield. Ideally you want to get to bed no later than 8:00 PM, but night owl that I am that was tough.



Ryan told me I might not find anything but I should go for the experience, and that's kind of how it turned out. I did it wrong the first two days. I now know that when a field opens, it's not enough to just get there early right as it opens. You have to almost literally sprint thru the show as fast you can on a first sweep....and be ready to pull the trigger if you find something, no lengthy contemplation, particularly if it's great...then go back for more combs after you've been thru it once. It's not like the shows in California where a brisk pace will suffice...and you walk away and think about it then come back. Why? There are just so many serious collectors (and dealers) there, great stuff moves fast. 


To illustrate the kind of competition there is at Brimfield. On Thursday I was at May's bright and early...I was across the street standing by myself totally engrossed in getting shots of the gathering crowd that was waiting for the show to open. Actually more like fumbling around trying to figure out how to work the MaysPano_3684x810.jpg (460215 bytes)panoramic and video features....Anyway, as the 9:00AM opening approached I was getting surrounded by people. So engrossed in my photography I didn't pay any attention. All a sudden I look around....there was John Orban, Kevin Bronson and Rich Witherby..some of the top sports memorabilia talent/dealers in the country....plus a posse of their buds all waiting to get in...And that was just a few I recognized!




And now we come to where the rubber meets the road...my own personal experience of Brimfield. I arrived for my first day around 5:30AM Tuesday as PICT0140_1200x900.jpg (267828 bytes) dealers were just opening. The only interesting things I saw the first hour or so was a booth full of bats that did nothing for me. And a very unusual 59" tall by 26" wide wood sign shaped lPICT0142_900x1200.jpg (172109 bytes)ike a church window, and which listed the players of a football team. The name of the team wasn't indicated but there was reference to Virginia and Maryland. At the top it said "Session 1900-01". Below that were the names of the president of the athletic association, the vice president and the manager. All that indicated it was for an amateur athletic association team. Down the center were the names of the "First Eleven" (first string), and to the left their positions were indicated. Unfortunately that left side had been partially trimmed away, but at least you could still see "E" for end "T" for tackle "G" for guard etc. The dealer was asking around $3,000.00 I think it was...The sign was an exceptional piece of folk art that screamed for research.. I looked it over hard...but couldn't get behind it right that moment and kept on my search. Nevertheless it was an incredibly rare and handsome artifact of American football.



I won't pull any punches, straight up, my first Brimfield got off to a rough start. After that first hour of weak quality it got worse, I hit a trail of architectural salvage that seemed to just go on an on...I left that field and ran into the same potential landfill the next. Those first few hours really challenged the optimism I'd arrived with. Over the last twenty years I'd heard about the great finds at Brimfield. I remember once at the 2007 RowingTrophy1.jpg (82948 bytes)National Sports Collectors Convention. John Orban had a large 1880's rowing trophy, about 17" tall, flanked with sweep oars, with a large engraving of a sculler on the front. It was the best rowing trophy I'd ever seen, with a price to match. John said he got it at Brimfield....and there I was at Brimfield....trekking thru rusty lame building PICT0333_900x1200.jpg (158036 bytes)parts I couldn't seem to shake. Common sense however reassured me there were three and a half days left and it couldn't get any worse and could only get better...and it did. I knew Dealer's Choice field would open later that morning at 11:00AM, and Brimfield Acres North would open at 1:00PM, so I figured things would change. The quality improved over the day but never to the level I expected....Dealer's Choice was pretty much a yawner. Basically I didn't see anything to write home about although I did see one of those 1880 baseball player gas lamps. I can't remember what the dealer was asking but it was some nose bleed figure. Fatigued out, I just glossed over it and kept walking. I bought the figure only mate to it about a year ago at the June 13th 2010 Rose Bowl Flea Market...at the other end of the nose bleed spectrum...for the wopping price of $35.00, which you can read about in the story I did. The only other thing at Dealer's Choice that turned my head was a cloth pillow cover which I bought for $100.00 practically out of desperation!






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