Published: January 24, 2012
Papermania Plus, considered the largest event of its kind in the Northeast, conducted its 61st edition, devoting two days to antique paper, ephemera and collectibles on January 7‸ at the Hartford XL Center. “We had a great opening. It was the best gate we’ve had in the past five or six shows,” said show manager Arlene Shea of Hillcrest Promotions. “We had the busiest day on Saturday, with a lot of money on the floor and everybody going out with packages, Sunday was good, too.”
Indeed, a good size crowd began forming in the center’s upstairs lobby well before the show opening at 10 am on Saturday, and at the head of the line stood veteran collector Roger Steckler of New York City. Steckler, who has been a show regular for the past 15 years or so, said he was on the hunt for postcards, and added with a chuckle that he would be “out of here by noon.” He knew exactly the dealers he wanted to see and what he was looking for.
A good gate is one measure of success. Shea pointed out, however, that a more telling gauge is the number of dealers who sign up to return for future events. Instantly making reservations to come back to Hartford next August and January 2013 were Norm and Doris Sandys from Albertson, N.Y. “We certainly had a large crowd on opening Saturday morning,” they reported. “We have found that this show draws very well from the New England states, as well as from New York.”
The couple carries a broad range of antique paper items. Types of things that sold included hand-written autograph books from the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century and Nineteenth Century children’s artwork and reports. From their inventory of photographs they sold World War II snapshot albums, Nineteenth Century Asia travel albums and stereo cards. Early games and paper toys sold well, as did mid-Nineteenth Century ladies magazines, posters and calendars. “Specific interesting sales were an Archie comic book in preproduction colorizing stage, a very large Mother Goose poster and a 1900 Alice in Wonderland playing card game,” they said.
Veteran dealer Nancy Steinbock Vintage Posters, Chestnut Hill, Mass., with more than 25 years of doing shows under its belt, was pleased to see that this event had its biggest attendance in a number of years. Said Steinbock, “We sold a group of prints we brought to the show, particularly, several Kansas WPA [Works Progress Administration] silkscreens, as well as a group of Western silkscreens by Louis Ewing. “We also sold several smaller literary related posters, World War I and II posters.
In his weekly blog, “Bookman’s Log” on the Ten Pound Island Book Co. website, owner Greg Gibson recounted a serendipitous find at the Hartford show †a trove of 1,000 original cartoons for The New Yorker , along with ten The New Yorker cover designs in color, a sheaf of correspondence and an idea file of 500 punch lines, prior to their illustrations, on file cards, by Ed Arno. The Gloucester, Mass.-based Gibson proclaimed the Arno cartoons as “great” and the archive, priced at $22,500, is available.
The meteoric rise and fall of poster stamps, those colorful advertising labels, a bit larger than postage stamps, that originated in the mid-Nineteenth Century and quickly became a collecting craze, is documented in Robert Bradbury’s catalog. The Worcester, Mass., dealer was able to quantify the number of ads for the diminutive collectibles, some 3,600 of which are described in his catalog †”one in 1912, five in 1913, 500 in 1914, 3,000 in 1915 and only 41 in 1916.” Bradbury said he will issue a supplement to his catalog in March.
While collectors were swarming the Papermania show, aspiring politicians were traipsing through New Hampshire in advance of the state’s first-in-the-nation Republican primary. Apropos, Resser-Thorner Antiques, Manchester, N.H., was exhibiting a signed campaign poster by the late Paul Tsongas from 1988 and a “George W. Bush for President” sticker. More political goodies were in the form of a Bill Clinton pamphlet dated 1991 titled “The Arkansas Agenda: New Directions for the ’90s,” a candid photo of George W. Bush in Manchester and an invitation to the Democratic Victory Ball for John F. Kennedy in 1960.
Enjoying his usual lobby spot, John Ogara of Worcester, Mass., brought a couple of interesting “plus” items, illustrating the show’s inclusion of more than just one-dimensional merchandise. One was a 1972 bas relief in metal, probably brass, depicting the historic meeting in Beijing, China, of US President Richard Nixon and Mao Zedong, February 21, 1972. The other was a “Sculptograph” portrait of two children, a two-dimensional picture created on aluminum. Sold early that morning from Ogara’s booth was a large panoramic photo of a walled Middle Eastern city that the dealer laughingly said he had sold on the flip of a coin. “I won the flip,” he boasted, netting an extra $5 for the piece.
An etching by Kathe Kollwitz (1867‱945) depicting a mother with a child in her arms and a colorful print of “Carnival,” 1985, by Andrew V. Stevovich were among the notable examples in the collection of Tom Clemens. Clemens does business as Gargoyle Gallery in Boston, and was sharing the booth space with Michael Shortell from Hartford, who supplements his successful picture framing business with an outing to this show twice a year. This time he was showing vintage posters and said he tends toward artistic posters and Japanese prints. In business for 35 years, his strategy, he said, is to hunt down one desired item but sometimes having to buy a lot of posters just to get it.
You could find sheet music for all the hits of the early 1900s †”Meet Me At The Zoo,” “When I Get You Alone Tonight,” for example, as well as the complete year archive from 1987 of Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine at Joseph Prior, a dealer in books, sheet music and maps from Monson, Mass. Or if your taste runs toward more grisly relics, George Vassel of Window to the Past was showing a Civil War field surgeon’s portable amputation and bullet removal kit.
The show’s late summer edition is set for August 25′6 again at the XL Center, and the next winter show will be January 5‶. For information, www.papermaniaplus.com or 860-563-9975.
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