By Tom Carrier
EDITOR’S NOTE: Brimfield, Mass., is a small New England town with a population of about 5,000 or so. Settled in 1706, it shows its traditional New England quaintness rather well. It has its large, steepled church, and with the leaves of autumn or the snow of winter, looks the part in any Norman Rockwell painting. And then for one week every spring, fall, and summer, the population doubles with 5,000 antique dealers converging on Brimfield to create the “Antique Capital of the United States.”
I had the most unique opportunity to go antique hunting with Will Seippel, CEO and founder of WorthPoint.com to learn about furniture and other things that caught his eye. Will is quite the collector himself and the things he sees is often nothing like what I see at all.
It’s a small table he notices first. “What we have here is a beautiful New England work table dating from about 1820, in what they call the Sheraton style,” Seippel says.
Now to me, it was just a small table, but Will notices the brass knob on the front of the small drawer and the birch top. The legs, though, draw his particular attention.
“Generally in New England, you can tell the difference from the southern tables, because the legs were much thinner, which was really more the Puritan ethic to save material. The southern tables would have large legs which they would flaunt how much material they would use, kind of the opposite,” Seippel says. “A very, very nice table.”
We keep moving down the line until he notices an entire table of furniture accessories, such as Victorian hand carved walnut drawer pulls for cottage furniture, door knobs, and even claw feet for a table. “Fred Taylor, our Worthologist for all things Victorian to 1920s to 1950s Grand Rapids furniture, can tell you more than I can, but these are hard to find and they are great to use on your furniture,” Seippel says.
Lastly, we came across a rather large wooden bed. “Here is a nice bed here that’s made out of walnut. It’s a little bit higher end of Victorian furniture. These are very functional beds, and is a great piece to recycle and use. Very comfortable, and saves cutting down a tree to make a new bed. Something like this I would really recommend,” Seippel says. He particularly notices the hand-carved fruit decoration on the headboard and at the foot of the bed itself. “It’s a very nice piece of furniture,” Seippel concludes.
WorthPoint’s Worthopedia auction prices put the door knob at only a few dollars within a large lot, the Victorian bed frame sold at auction from $110 to about $200, while similar small Sheraton work tables were auctioned from $50 to more than $1,200 for an 1830’s walnut southern Sheraton-style work table.
Just to be able to walk alongside Will as he points out the kinds of important antiques and collectibles that would just pass me by is a lesson in itself. After “antiquing” with Will Seippel, I now understand more fully how he was able to pay his way through higher education through the buying and selling of antiques. I certainly will not be able to look at furniture legs quite the same way again.
To watch a video of Will Seippel’s tour of Brimfield, click here.
Tom Carrier is a general Worthologist, with an expertise in a wide variety of subjects, including vexillology, or the study of flags.
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