Where’s Will? WorthPoint CEO Braves the Rain to Browse Brimfield

Shoppers had to pick their way around mud and standing puddles last Friday at Brimfield, but what’s a little rain to a dedicated antiquer?

Those who braved Brimfield on Friday were prepared for the rainy weather, with ponchos and umbrellas and shoes they didn’t mind getting muddy. The bad weather kept the crowds low in number but didn’t dampen the antique-hunting experience. Determined shoppers—and I was one of them—simply picked their way around the mud and puddles to find treasures, now hidden under tarps and tents.

It didn’t rain all day, but it was pretty steady. One thing I noticed, besides the puddles—which I managed to avoid—was that the dealers seemed younger than usual, and the crowd seemed to be getting younger, too. That’s good news for those of us in the antiques and collectibles trade.

I never know what I’m going to find when I go antiquing, and a make sure I give everything a good once-over.

I understand the day before was pretty nice; it wasn’t as sunny as on the coast of Maine, where I was, but dealers said the selling was strong on Thursday.

My trip to Brimfield had a dual purpose: the first was to talk to dealers and antiquers about WorthPoint, and the second, of course, was to look for cool stuff to buy. I ended up buying a lot of photos—about 400 of them—from a dealer from Pittsburg, Pa. He said he had been selling at Brimfield for 41 years, and knew that paper was strong. The photos I bought were from roughly 1880 to 1920, primarily from Pittsburg area. There were a lot of photos of women in fancy hats, a nice autographed photo of Sophie Tucker, and autographed clown photos from the ’30s. The dealer told me he had a sold a lot earlier in the week, making me wish I could have arranged things to be there on the first day.

A thing I found that would fall into the bizarre category was an early 1900s dog license from Montana, shaped like a German Iron Cross military medal. Sitting next to the dog tag on the shelf of bizarre things I bought is a torchiere; a tall lamp, about five feet tall, made if cast bronze. What made it weird is that the base looked to be of the Art Nouveau style, but it seems that the lamp may have been modified for electricity, and that it had an Art Deco-style mercury glass globe at the top. It’s a beautiful piece, but I could not find a maker’s mark anywhere. Still, it is from a quality foundry.

Since it was raining, people tended to crowd under the tents, making it possible to overhear conversations. The funniest thing I heard was a dealer who had this old rowing machine, manufactured in New England in the early 1900s. The dealer was explaining to me that it was of the same style and vintage as a rowing machine that was in the gym on the Titanic, and he pulled out a photograph to prove it. As we were talking about it, a man who was standing nearby—who heard just enough to get it wrong—says to the dealer: “Wow, it looks great for being under water for so long. How did you get it up from that deep?”

Those who braved the inclement weather last Friday at Brimfield were prepared for rain, as any picker worth their salt would be, with ponchos, umbrellas and waterproof footwear.

Anyway, Brimfield was a success, be it a wet one. I next plan to be in Las Vegas on June 17-19 for the eBay Radio Party and Conference, and then I will be out in Southern California for an estate sale being hosted by Connor McCrory, America’s Youngest Picker,on June 20-22. Keep an eye out for me and, if you know of some cool event that I need to attend, email me and I’ll check it out.

Will Seippel is the president and CEO of WorthPoint. Will has been an avid collector since 1974 and dealer of just about all things—with an emphasis on ephemera—antiques since 1984.

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