At Brimfield last week, I found myself noticing lots of toys and similarly nostalgic items, including this glass case with more than a dozen once-loved dolls:
Nearby, I spotted this living doll, an Alaskan Eskimo:
Just the day before, I'd read something online about how this is an ideal breed for apartment dwellers, since they are smart, quiet, trainable, friendly, and don't need much exercise. I mentioned this to his people, who were dealers. They said he barks all the time and like to gallop like a wild pony, so not such a great apartment dog unless you hope to drive your neighbors and yourself crazy. Food for thought.
Another shop pretty much condensed my 1960's childhood onto a few shelves. There were vintage Barbies and Mattel's Liddle Kiddles, as well as these international Josef Originals china figurines or "dolls." My mother collected these, so I found several familiar faces and outfits here:
My mother's collection is still on shelves in my dad's house, just as they were in the '60s. They'd completely slipped my mind although I'd adored them as a kid. Their $50 to $60 price stickers shocked me. I've since found that they are much cheaper on eBay but I do not plan to start collecting.
There are always lots of old teddy bears at Brimfield. These had so much personality and history that I had to take their picture:
But most old bears look as wonderful as these. You can tell they were loved long and hard. It seems to me that many of us keep our bears in a safe place as we grow up, or we make sure our parents keep them for us. When do we finally let them go? For many of us, not until we die. (And I'll bet a lot of bears have been betrayed by people who went a little nuts after reading Marie Kondo.)
Some of us don't like reminders of our childhood, which reveal contradictory clues about us to others that we're trying to impress with how smart, cool, professional and adult we are. But sometimes the most professional, bearded, old grownup will surprise me. There was the first time we went to visit our financial advisor at his house instead of his office, for example. I was expecting some slick, modern, monochromatic bachelor pad. He lived in a splendid, perfectly restored Arts and Crafts–era condo in Brookline, with a copper-stenciled ceiling in the dining room and a pantry he'd stripped and refinished himself. He surrounded himself with piles of wonderful books and an amazing collection of the best kinds of antique toys. After seeing how brilliantly he lived, I trusted his advice even more.
Brimfield also has a large network of dealers selling vintage and antique clothing. There are huge tents filled with everything from corsets to fur stoles to '80s power suits, as well as new clothing that looks old or sufficiently "bohemian" to pass for vintage. I love to look at everything but I can't imagine buying anything these days. I believe I can trace our eternal moth infestation to a certain bejeweled, pale-yellow vintage cardigan I had in the '90s. I've also done the bohemian thing. This was pretty much me in the '70s:
I'll admit that I revived the denim jacket and Converse All Stars in the '90s, but I swear I'm over the whole thing now.
Doesn't it make you mad when you find yourself stuck in a juice pitcher?
Probably the most enticing discovery I made on this Brimfield excursion was a tent full of old cameras, antique and vintage photographs and a massive collection of the most hilarious snapshots and studio photos imaginable. I finally just had to put everything down and get away from there. I wanted everything. I'd worked on the labels for the MFA's snapshot show last year, and thoroughly enjoyed the humor and strangeness of what the curators had selected. But any random handful of photos in that tent revealed just as much, if not more pure magic.
Take these Brady Bunch lookalikes, for example. Please!
One particular pile of gold consisted of vintage dance-recital photos. These are still a "thing" of course, since kids still take dancing lessons. But we are much too sophisticated these days. No one is ever going to stand still again for a photo like this:
I apologize for the poor quality of that image. The original was curling and I was in a rush to see more. But you get the idea. Multiply it by about 300 to get the full effect of the dealer's dance-photo collection.
On the way to the car, I spotted this expressive figure. I think it is some sort of god worshipped by the Brimfield Association of Dealers in Useless Rusty Objects: