Flea-market hounds fantasize. We dream of discovery and recovery. Cast-off couture and wind-up watches rub us the right way. Most of us, however, won’t cop to being covetous. Why, we’re just digging through other people’s trash.
But vintage beauties don’t offer themselves up easily. Marinating in years of dust and neglect, antiques can, and often do, slip by our gaze unnoticed. In an attempt to increase the odds of scoring, Traditional Home invited antiques ace Judith Miller to scour acres of artifacts in Brimfield, Massachusetts, home to the country’s largest flea market three times a year since 1959—and held this year May 10-15, July 5-10, and September 6-11.
Judith, author of the international best-selling Miller’s Antiques Price Guides and more than 60 books on collecting antiques , gamely agreed to walk her talk at Brimfield, where some 5,000 dealers from 35 states converged last May. “Ideally, you want to find something at a flea market , rather than when it ends up in a smart shop,” says the Scottish-born supersleuth who now lives in London with her husband, John Wainwright, and three children.
“There’s a bargain at every flea market —if you know what you’re looking at,” opines the blond and brainy author, who has combed through antiques fairs and “boot sales” (a car trunk is called a boot in England) on both sides of the Atlantic for more than 35 years