Wilford Brimfield

Brimfield Flea Market, 2016


Elvis will leave the building for $75-

Haunted Raggedy Ann dolls and enormous phallus carvings notwithstanding, the most enduring image from that day at the biggest outdoor flea market this side of Worcester was that of the tall and ripped gentleman reverently holding up a 4′ bucking saw. I thought, this jacked dude was born to use that saw–he probably comes from a line of French/Canadian lumberjacks who crosscut the Northwest Passage!  It was only when he turned the saw over and I saw it richly detailed with painted flora and fluffy sheep and whatnot that I realized what a gross generalization I’d made. This man had no intention of using his prized objet d’art beyond hanging it above his mantle at home. And that’s ok.

Brimfield caters to every taste.

I happened upon a re-purposed tool myself:


Some playful human had turned this lovely beetle into, well, a beetle. The seller, god bless him, wasn’t aware of the visual pun he was selling but he assured me that it came from the classic RING THE BELL carnival game of testing one’s strength. For my part, I was drawn to the rings and the overall reasonable condition of the head and handle. The head was close-grained and hard, possibly elm but I’m not sure. I told him that I planned on using it as a splitting tool and for knocking framing timbers together though I’m not sure he understood or particularly cared. He parted with it for $8.

Gems and junk did jump together up and down that long strip of tents and vendors.


Like many of you, I was drawn not so much to the colorful and bold, but the muted rusting things on the fringes and under the tables, scanning more for overall hue than for detail. That’s often where the real finds are.

Several of the proprietors were already beginning to pack up for their next gig.

Under a large tent beneath a table, I found this box before the man from Maine stowed it away. I had no idea what was inside, if anything, but the box alone was worth a better look.


Mr St. Charles kept very good care of his saws–a mix of crosscut and ripping. While I’m not usually in the market for old handsaws, Maine made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. He really didn’t want to lug it all back down east.

Thank you, Edward. I hope to give these saws as good a home as you once did.


There was a notable lack of chisels at this season’s Brimfield. Overall, there seemed to be fewer tools than I remember.

But for my boon companions, there were treasures around every corner:


My wife is a miller. Gears, man. Gears are her thing.

And has there been a good pencil sharpener made in lo these last 40 years?


No one knew what this was-


No doubt Kevin had the find of the day with his bell-bottomed leather sexy-time pants:


And I was compelled to spend time with this compelling fellow below.

I call him Andy.

Andy and I spoke for hours on existential despair, proper use of sunscreen, and the best places to find Pokémon:


shhh, my friend, shhh–just let the zinc oxide do its work…

Amy carried my new beetle as well as a 4-foot crow bar for most of the hot afternoon because she is stronger than me and she apparently misses the fleshly mortifications of the Appalachian Trail.


It was hot, it was late, we were running out of gas and we were running out of kettle corn.


Kevin, impulsively, donned his new leather bell bottoms, rode a rainbow across the road and hitched a ride with the groovy kids on the bus.


He was last seen in Vermont with Andy and Elvis.


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4 thoughts on “Wilford Brimfield

  1. Linda Master says:

    I love this post! I found myself in an awesome antique shop today, perfect timing, I re-lived the fun through your post. I do have that great pencil sharpener hanging in my bar, still in use. Great tool finds, and how cool is that bus-bus!

  2. graemeu says:

    ‘…that thing…’ an attempt at driftwood wimsy, a long way to catch up with Jack Marsden Mayer in Wanganui https://www.facebook.com/Jack-Marsden-Mayer-Animal-Driftwood-Sculptures-217233335005648/

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