Published: September 4, 2012
The East Coast’s best-known ephemera and collectibles show, Papermania Plus, marked its 62nd edition on August 25′6 at the XL Center. The twice-a-year event is ably managed by Arlene Shea and her son Gary Gipstein, and was conceived by the late Paul Gipstein in 1976.
If eager shoppers entering the show at 10 am on Saturday sensed a bit more maneuvering room among the nearly 100 dealer booths arrayed in the center, it was because the show was down about 20 percent from its full complement of exhibitors. Gary Gipstein explained that this was due to a change in date for the Baltimore Summer Antiques Show.
“Some of our dealers are general line antiques dealers as well as having ephemera collections, so we lost some of them to that show this year,” he said. Nevertheless, there was no shortage of memorable items and documents, nostalgia, postcards, photography, movie star posters, rare books and old collectibles awaiting shoppers.
While “paper” rules at this show, the “Plus” in its name reflects the many two- and three-dimensional items, such as early advertising, logos, tins, cartoon cels and the like that are also “ephemeral” in the broadest sense of the word. This could be seen in booths such as Gerald and Carol Newman’s display, which contained a plethora of product packaging from days gone by †Gold Dust Scouring Cleanser, Old Virginia Cheroots and an unopened can of Donald Duck Chocolate Syrup with a brightly colored cartoon figure of The Donald himself printed on the can. The New Milford, Conn., dealers also had a large collection of Word’s Fair memorabilia †pennants, ashtrays, glasses, mugs, trays and more.
Certainly not paper but fragile nonetheless was a rare parasol commemorating the sinking of the USS Maine, the US Navy’s second commissioned battleship that exploded in Havana Harbor on February 15, 1898, under mysterious circumstances. The yellow press fanned popular opinion in the United States following the ship’s sinking and the Spanish-American War started later that year. This fragile piece of Americana featured a persimmon wood handle and was framed, shown by Orville Haberman, Connecticut River Books, Deep River, Conn.
Another three-dimensional antique was a folding brass microscope being offered by Kuenzig Books, Topsfield, Mass. Dating from the 1880s, the scientific instrument made by the Vienna, Austria, firm Reichert came with three objectives and one eyepiece. It was in its original case, which dealer John Kuenzig had recovered in new leather. Kuenzig noted that the instrument would have been used in professional field biology in light of its portable design and quality optics.
Werner Hoffman’s homage to his predecessor Caspar David Friedrich (1774‱840), a Nineteenth Century German Romantic landscape painter, was captured in a unique watercolor drawing and poem created in 1977 by the Twentieth Century German draftsman. This was on display at Steven Schuyler Bookseller, North Reading, Mass. “Even though the summer venue is the less ‘frisky’ of the two Papermania events, we did quite well,” said Schuyler after the show.
“I sold several larger Eighteenth Century hand colored engravings of Berlin views to a Russian collector. I also sold some wonderful Victorian children’s books to a private collector,” he continued. “Strangely enough, I had bought a large library of travel-related books †drive-ins, diners, motels, railroadiana, etc †and sold several dozen titles. Even though they were only 20 or so years old, they were in good condition and very ‘visual,’ and this sort of Americana always finds a new home. All in all, it was a better than expected weekend.”
Bruce Gventer, an antiquarian bookseller from South Egremont, Mass., said that there was the usual high interest in his racy merchandise. “Eighty-six percent of my sales were erotica, ten percent books and paper and four percent exotica †Sanskrit, Tibetan and Mongolian leaves,” the dealer reported.
In a work that was very reminiscent of the humorous, illustration style of Norman Rockwell, Provincetown School artist H. Heitkamp portrayed a weekend angler out in a small boat, huddled against the rain, his dangling pipe inverted to keep out the raindrops. The 1946 painting was available from David Hughes, Vicksburg, Miss., who has collected paintings, photos and folk art for 30 years.
“I have been doing the show for several years now, and like that there is a ‘new audience’ to perform for and show to since most of my exhibiting is in New York City or Allentown [Penn],” said the dealer. “I find that, as elsewhere, people have their particular collecting interests but also that I can show anything from decorative wallpapers and pattern books and other illustrated design materials to store displays and point-of-purchase items. My favorite sale was a plaster mannequin of a woman’s face being held high by her gloved arms, which was a 1950s Dior promotion I had brought back from Paris.”
At Scott Rosenman Antiques, Lutherville, Md., a 1908 poster for Dr Pepper by Kaufmann & Strauss Co., New York City, was on display in one of the dealer’s glass cases. Rosenman said the pristine piece had never been distributed †probably because the town of Waco, Texas, depicted on the bottle’s label had been misspelled as “Waoc.”
Shea said she was pleased with the weekend’s results. “Saturday’s gate was good, Sunday was a bit slower. Despite being down some dealers, all of the ones who were there signed up for the next August show.” In the meantime, Papermania Plus returns to the XL Center on January 5‶. For information, www.Papermaniaplus.com or 860-563-9975.
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