We saw the Brimfeild Antique Fair on TV a few months ago. It said it was the largest antique fair in New England and indeed it looked huge. Rudy talked to a few people from work about it and they said you needed at least two days to see it all. We had five hours and were looking for the most bizarre (and affordable) thing we could find. After all finding something that fit our decor was a bit difficult. As of late Rudy had taken to buying fossils (one he calls a dinosaur – it’s a small marine reptile) a taxidermied bird, an adorable raven finger puppet, a hand-painted ukelele (neither of us play) and a series of unusual vinyls off eBay.
The weather that day was extreme. By the time we got there it was probably in the 90′s. We found parking for $7 and were soon on our way. There were all sorts of odd things there. It seemed every other dealer had their own tiny crank sewing machine, apparently the sewing version of an easy bake oven. I found the concept strange. The booth that didn’t have that surely had a rocking horse and believe me some of those horses should have been put out to pasture years ago as they got increasingly creepy looking.
There was a dealer here that just sold antique chocolate molds. Most were bunnies, hundreds and hundreds of bunnies in all styles and sizes, some as big as a small child. They had other molds though – including a few sets of gnomes. Who makes chocolate gnomes? And why? Indeed gnomes abounded everywhere here. There were gnome molds, gnome dolls, actual gnomes, gnome salt shakers, you name it. Most were in the style of the gnomes you can find in that best selling book from the 70′s about the dear creatures.
The people here were as diverse as the items and I happily snapped photos whenever anyone wasn’t looking. Maybe I was catching an image of the world’s ugliest dress (made in neon yellow mosquito netting!) or maybe I was just trying to find creepy little knickknacks. I regret not snapping any photos of the holy-crap-that’s-a-lot-of-pink dealers. Pink seemed all the rage in chinaware this year. Had that been either of our styles we would have made out like bandits.
Eventually we found ourselves walking to a quieter part of the fair in the shade. I snapped a few photos of an exceptionally tacky gewgaw, a cute little cat wearing a babushka, and a lamp Rudy liked. The vendor saw me snapping photos and was amused. He looked to be an interesting guy, youngish wearing a pork-pie hat and a beard, a style of dress I’d already learned to associate with the eccentric somewhat beatnik-like people of today’s society. I think business was slow for him so he invited us over to the display case he was sitting at. “If you want something to take a photo of I got something for you that might be the most expensive thing at this fair.” Intrigued I walked over and both Rudy and myself ventured a guess which item in the display case this was. We both guessed against the obvious and got it wrong. I’m no jewelery expert. Indeed it was a massive emerald ring and earrings encrusted in wee diamonds. It carried a $40,000 price tag for the ring alone. Perhaps a fair price for a stone the size of a racoon’s brain? I don’t know. He told me he was a wholesaler who got the emerald from a friend in Brazil and had it made into a ring by some other jewelry artist. Then he took it out of the box and passed it to me. I was thinking, “Oh God, no, don’t give me that.” I don’t wear jewelry, in part because it’s somewhat expensive and I feel like I’d easily break or loose it. Still I couldn’t really say no so I tried it on. Holy shit was that sucker heavy! Had I swung a punch at someone I’m sure it would have knocked them clear to the moon! I looked at the monstrosity on my slender fingers, thinking two things, “Holy crap, I have a ring on my finger that costs more than that house I wanted to buy, I feel like I’m about to be mugged” and “wow, maybe I could be a hand model.” I peered inside it looking at the character of the emerald. It looked like the surface of some planet covered in lines and tracks. I thought these things were considered imperfections? Maybe not for emeralds? As I said I know nothing of gems, only fossils. I handed it back and said thank you, my heart beating a bit faster than usual.
I took a photo of it and another piece of jewelery with a funny history. “I took this to antiques roadshow. It took them six months to figure out what it was!” “So what is it?” “It’s a Dutch piece from the 14th century, made for grieving.” By this time another customer had come up asking what it costs for a nice orange piece of carnival glass. “Ten dollars. I see people out there selling those for 20 or 25 but I see no sense to it.” We probably could have stayed and talked to this guy for awhile but we had places to go. Still he seemed interesting and just as amused by us – myself for wearing a T-shirt depicting a Shakespearean thespian being chased off a stage by a bear reading, “Haters exit stage right pursued by bear.” I had worn the shirt purposely to see if I could get reactions and I got four comments on it by complete strangers and quite a few stares. These silly things keep me entertained. We left without saying why I was taking photos.
Meanwhile we explored the rest of the fair. Rudy was hungry and tried to make me eat but I was not hungry at all and tend not to be in such heat. I nibbled a couple of french fries and threw out most of my lunch, stating I just wanted a smoothie. The smoothie I drank so fast I got the first ice cream headache I’ve received since I was a wee child. Christ, do those hurt! A half an hour later we bought another smoothie from the same guy who we chatted up about Texas and all their fried things being insane. He gave us a dollar off, for being a repeat customer he said. Before we left I had a really sour lemonade I just had to have. My stomach thoroughly disagreed with this but come on! I was hot! By now we’d been walking for three hours straight in the heat and my pathetically out of shape body was starting to ache, from my swollen feet, to my calves, and my eyes from squinting at the sun all day. A complete stranger called out to me, “You look tired!”We found the car after this only missing a little bit – I just couldn’t go on any farther, maybe in September when the weather is cooler.
All and all we had great fun. I got a nice hippie dress for the summer and a Christmas ornament that was a fish with the head of a cat for $2. And we also found a birthday present for my mom, all well within our budget, granted none of these things were technically antique. Rudy did not get his artwork or strange and bizarre find as he wanted but there’s always next time. This time around he had to leave the oddly dramatic abstract painting of two sailboats in a storm – the asking price for this 1940′s piece was just too high at $275. The vendor could go down to $240 but no more! Instead he offered a godawful pink flowered one for $100 that looked like some old biddy might like it – not us.
It was a long day, we saw a lot of things, some fairly morbid like the tiny miner’s canary cage and the toad made into purse. We learned some stuff and we will be back at the next fair in September!