Merritts host brick collectors gathering near Pierce City
The annual gathering of the Brick Collectors Association, a national organization of brick afficionados, took place on June 9 at the farm of Barry and Jeanna Merritt near Pierce City. Around 125 brick collectors from around 20 states assembled for the event.
Collectors like Barry Merritt look for bricks imprinted with manufacturer's names and often locations. Stylized bricks with designer imprints were made between the 1850s and the 1950s.
Merritt said a number of bricks from other countries were among the collectibles available at this year's gathering. He was able to pick up bricks from two states in his quest to have all 50 states represented in his collection. Bricks without locations imprinted on them can be identified through a club manual.
Brick collectors do not sell their collector's items, but swap them for others. One of the most eye-catching pieces at the show was a collection, not available for exchange, of around 80 salesman's samples, measuring two to three inches in width and an inch and a half wide.
This was the second time the Merritts had hosted the annual event. The last time the annual gathering came to their farm was in 2004.
As is the tradition with the club, the Friday evening before the swap is a large social gathering. This year the group assembled for a wiener roast at the farm of Larry and JoNell Moennig near Clarkston Springs, north of Pierce City. Picnickers held their meal over the stream on an old bridge moved from the road by JoNell's father, Earle Staponski, to save it from being scrapped.
The brick swap itself began at 9 a.m. on June 9 and lasted less than an hour. An auction followed as a fundraiser for the club. Merritt said the auction featured mostly starter pieces for a new collector, different pieces like sewer tiles and old glass insulators for utility poles. Even old-style wooden jig saw puzzles were sold for children.
The gathering ended after the catered lunch. Merritt said participants came from as far away as Virginia, New York, Texas and California.