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This week marks the kickoff of what is, in our opinion, one of the single best things about New England summers: The Brimfield Antiques Show. If you love decor and live anywhere in the Northeast, you’re probably already familiar with Brimfield and likely have the dates blocked off on your calendar for the next five years.
But, in case you don’t know a ton about the event: It’s the country’s largest antiques show, and it basically takes over a rural town in Southern Massachusetts during its week long run in May, July, and September. Brimfield attracts thousands of antiques and art dealers who set up their wares along half-mile stretch of country road, and tens of thousands of shoppers browse over the course of five days. If you have any interest at all in antiques, decor, or art, it’s an absolute must-see.
The one thing to know about Brimfield, however, is that it can be a bit overwhelming. There are literally a million things to see if you have the time to do it, and it can be difficult to decide what to buy and decipher the good deals from the bad. While we can’t help you navigate the crazy parking situation, we can offer you some advice on purchasing antiques that will hopefully make your visit a success. Below are a few of our best tips for finding the best antiques for your home.
See the diamond in the rough. Antiques are rarely in mint condition, and if they are, they’ll probably cost a mint to buy. Our strategy is always to look for those pieces that have great bones, but might need a little TLC to be restored to their original glory. The midcentury chair with the beautiful silhouette and terrible upholstery will be a much better deal than something the one covered in pristine leather. Plus, buying the dated version means you’ll get to put your own personal twist on the piece by covering it in a new fabric.
But make sure it’s actually a diamond. When searching for antiques, especially pieces that will see a lot of use like a dining table or a sofa, you’ll want to make sure the piece is high quality enough to withstand any updates you plan to make, as well as the rigors of day-to-day use. Look for upholstery with hand-tied springs, for example, and be sure that caseloads are made from solid hardwoods. A reputable, knowledgeable dealer should be able to answer these questions for you.
Be your own appraiser. If you are antiques shopping with a specific piece, style, or era in mind, it’s important to conduct a good amount of research before you start shopping. Learn how to distinguish authentic pieces from replicas, perhaps where to look for a serial number or an added flourish that will tell you it’s an original; research how much authentic pieces typically sell for, and how that changes based on the condition of the piece; and at Brimfield, find out what dealers are known for the style and items you are in search of. You’ll find a list of antiques exhibitors and what they’re selling here.
Can’t make it to Brimfield this year? Check out our inventory for hundreds of beautiful antique pieces for your home.