Published: January 25, 2011
The foot of snow from the previous day’s blizzard had all been plowed and the paths into the XL Center cleared for the queue of buyers who eagerly made their way January 8 for the twice-a-year tradition known as Papermania Plus. Within minutes of the 10 am opening Saturday, nearly all of the 130-plus booths in this two-day show had at least one buyer inside, inspecting merchandise, searching for that unusual or elusive piece of ephemera.
This specialty show, long a favorite for both ephemera and collectibles collectors, always seems to have it all: books, manuscripts, photographs, postcards, maps, prints and posters as well as toys and smalls.
Gary White Bookseller, Montrose, N.Y., offered a variety of interesting books, including two finds from 1896: Maria E. Ward’s Bicycling For Ladies and The First Annual Report of the Commissioners of Fisheries, Game and Forests of the State of New York.
Rare Book & Print Gallery, Elmira, Ontario, Canada, featured a Civil War uniform from the New York Regiment. A display case full of political buttons was a trip down memory lane with such campaign offerings as “I Like Ike,” “Stratton for Senator” and “I’m For Nixon and Lodge,” as well as advertising/miscellaneous examples like Ritz Crackers, I Have Been to My Dentist, and Better Housing Program. A grouping of ophthalmologist’s tools, glasses and promotional flyers attracted interest as well.
Veteran Papermania exhibitor Bruce Nelson, Landmark Ephemera, Portland, Maine, reported having a “fabulous show,” noting, “The key was to have brought things that are fresh and unusual. Serious collectors stepped forward and bought.”
Attracting the most interest were political items, suffrage and African American ephemera. Making an especially strong showing were rare political postcards, circa 1900s‱920s, as well as unusual African American trade cards.
A Currier & Ives trade card calendar was another strong item, Nelson said. At the other end of the spectrum, there was steady demand all day for local postcards, both general views and unusual topics.
Also having a great show was Ken Farrell of Just Kids Nostalgia, Huntington, N.Y. “Great show, as always. People come ready to buy,” said Farrell. At bargain prices, hundreds of vintage movie posters flew out of the booth. Key sales were two contact sheets and matching negatives of published Michael Jackson and Jackson 5 photos from the 1970s.
Drawing much attention, but not sales, at Just Kids Nostalgia was a stack of Swanson TV dinner boxes from the 1960s. “They were the hit of my booth…nonstop comments,” Farrell said, adding many lookers failed to make the “ephemera” connection for these “desirable” boxes.
Nancy Steinbock, Chestnut Hill, Mass., a veteran of the show since 1986, specializes in original vintage posters. Her booth this time out had a definite military flavor as the dealer was showing off two collections of World War I and II posters obtained from historical societies in Massachusetts and New England. The fresh material was a big hit with collectors, as well as others in the trade. A woman in the food industry snapped up a small group of WWI Food Administration posters.
Eric Caren of Caren Archive, Lincolndale, N.Y., specializes in high-end broadsides, newspapers and manuscripts, so he looks forward to the show for the buying as well as the selling. Both were a tad off, perhaps owing to the snowstorm the day before, which some dealers noticed affected Saturday’s gate, as well as that Caren is such a prolific collector. He has collected items relating to every major American event from 1507 to the present, so the few things he is on the hunt for are the proverbial needles in the haystack.
That said, he enjoyed and continues to enjoy this show. “The variety of material at the show was still wonderful and Arlene and Gary always look after their dealers in an A-plus manner!” he said.
The biggest sale of the show for Periodyssey, Easthampton, Mass., was a large lot of Real Detective magazines from the 1930s and 1940s at $1,500. “We always have modest sales at the show compared to other dealers since we don’t bring either four-figure items or massive amounts of stuff, but we’ve been doing Papermania since the mid-90s and would never miss it,” said dealer Rich West.
Written ephemera can be a challenge to photograph, but for buyers the show was a visual delight and every booth had at least one graphic or striking image that caught attention right away. A standout at Tamerlane Books, Havertown, Penn., was an aeronautically themed drawing from the August 9, 1911, issue of Puck Magazine , Herbert Merrill Wilder’s “A Beat on His Rival.” A fine example of Judaica that looked much like a typical antique schoolgirl sampler except for the subject matter, dated 1907, was on view at Gallerybfa, Prospect, Penn., which also offered a broadside from “His Excellency Caleb Strong, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, A Proclamation, For a Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer.”
Dealer Ted Comstock, Saranac Lake, N.Y., specializing in fine art, books and antiques, set up a diverse booth with a folky painting of deer hunters, an Olympics Winter Games Lake Placid 1932 Grandstand season ticket, Section 5, Seat 78, and a copy of The Fairy Tales of Perreault , published in London in 1922. Comstock said retails sales were cautious, but he sold “a little bit of everything across the board: books, travel items, automobile trade catalogs and photography.”
Diversity was also the word of the day at Wolf Creek Paper Antiques, Madison, N.J. Dealer Michael Shor said the strong-selling postcard topics in his booth were maple syrup making, WWII propaganda, dogs and dog sledding, Native Americans, commercial airlines, Coney Island, auto racing, attractive ladies, Santas, ocean liners, hold-to-lights, dirigibles, bathing beauties and advertising. Sales of town views from Connecticut were also brisk.
“In a reverse of the usual pattern, Sunday’s traffic and sales were better than Saturday’s due to the weather. I find that Papermania Plus always has a much stronger second day than most shows, but this Sunday was exceptional,” Shor noted.
The show will return to the XL Center in August. For information, 860-563-9975 or www.papermaniaplus.com .
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm