Published: January 30, 2007
As temperatures outside the Civic Center spiked at a balmy 71 degrees, the two-day Papermania Plus antique paper and ephemera show opened January 6, proving things were just as hot indoors as outdoors.
Antique paper and ephemera is big business today and the show attracted good-sized crowds, keeping dealers busy all weekend. By opening time, the lower entrance lobby was packed and at 10 am, eager buyers began streaming through the doors, having shed their winter coats and donned short-sleeve shirts. Promoter Arlene Shea of Hillcrest Promotions said the gate was better than a year ago this time for the twice-a-year event run by her and her son, Gary Gipstein.
Most of the dealers have already indicated they will return for the August outing, Shea said, which comes as little surprise since the show traditionally has a 75 to 80 percent return rate among dealers. A quick scan of the customer mailing list sign-ups showed that while the majority of buyers were from the area, visitors hailed from as far as South Carolina and Virginia.
While the event is billed as an antique paper plus advertising and photography show, there is so much more, not the least of which is ephemera, a growing field in itself in antiques. Dozens of categories of ephemera (written and printed material meant to fill a short-term need) could be found at the show as well as maps, games and toys, movie memorabilia and more.
Longtime exhibitor Rex Stark, Gardner, Mass., featured a compact and honed display with high-end smalls in locked cases. Sales this time included a daguerreotype in the high four figures and a rare political button in the low four figures.
Maps of Antiquity, West Chatham, Mass., had a good show at its first appearance as sellers, though the owners had been there numerous times as buyers. Robert and Danielle Zaremba recently acquired the business from its founder, Lynn Vigeant. A noteworthy sale was a map showing the buyers’ hometown that included former buildings as well as the buyers’ house.
Evie Eysenburg, Cold Spring, N.Y., sold many Nineteenth Century advertising trade cards and two groups of illustrated Nineteenth Century billheads and letterheads.
Wex Rex, Hudson, Mass., was at the show with movie posters and Gary Sohmers’ specialty, rock and roll memorabilia. Sales included a collection of concert ephemera from the Fillmore East auditorium in New York City, which, in its brief existence, jumpstarted the careers of several now-famous bands such as The Who and Derek and the Dominoes.
Duane Ellington of Recollections, Beacon Falls, Conn., enjoyed seeing old friends and making new customers, including the buyer of his Dr Pepper tin sign. Interest was also high in photographic postcards.
Wolf Creek Antiques, Madison, N.J., was pleased with the show. “Saturday was one of our busiest days ever and we could barely keep up with the customers,” said Michael Shar. “Saturday was very exhilarating because it was simply nonstop all day.”
Two notable sales involved the Rice Seed Company. In the first case, a man purchased an 1887 Rice Seed Company trade card that he said he would give to his wife for a surprise birthday present since her ancestors had founded the company. Later, a woman came in and bought a New York postcard that showed the house once belonging to her great-grandfather, who happened to be the founder of the Rice Seed Company.
Courtleigh & Curran Antiques, Rockport, Mass., was breaking new ground with this show, as the dealers are “really more funky antiques dealers than paper dealers,” they said. They did well, however, selling from a collection of Alice in Wonderland and Mona Lisa items and plan to be back in August with more from that collection.
N&D Sandy’s, Albertson, N.Y., specializes in children’s illustrated, photographica, ephemera, movies and Americana. Major sales were in photography, with travel albums and stereo images leading the way. A grouping of herbarium made for an attractive display and almost all of them found new homes.
Michael Brown Rare Books, LLC, Philadelphia, said sales were good. A highlight was a composite photograph from the mid-1860s of each storefront in downtown Auburn, N.Y., making for a strong visual record of the town at the time.
His booth was a veritable stroll back to the past with several old photographs, political sketches and ephemera, US Bureau of Engraving & Printing sample books, railroad memorabilia and more.
Longtime Papermania Plus attendee Aaron Benneian, Lancaster, Penn., said sales were vigorous and many in his first show as a seller. “I enjoyed selling face to face and meeting so many customers. I was also impressed with the promoters and organizers and their staff — very helpful and accommodating.” He mostly sold antique photography but also a good deal of ephemera. Key sales included a framed photograph of President William McKinley during the first inauguration at the US Capitol in 1897 and a set of large Nineteenth Century foreign albumen photographs from China and India.
Howard Smith of Pine Bush, N.Y., said attendance was good at the show and he had a fine show. He specializes in books, maps and photographs.
Antiquebug of Wolfeboro, N.H., said sales were steady all weekend in the $100 and under range. “Setup and break down were easy and professional without incident. This is one area of collecting where the shows are still vibrant and collectors are still searching for buried treasure,” said Cathy Sykes, who owns the business with her husband, Frank. “We enjoyed ourselves and were glad to be back out in the traditional marketplace again.”
Shea noted that this show attracts single-minded collectors, most of whom are on a mission to find a specific item. Her words were borne out time and again as several buyers making requests of each dealer for their item of choice could be overheard. Obviously a regular, one man wound up and down the aisles looking for anything to do with his native Hungary. A dealer he was approaching must have recognized him for he called out “Hungary” and said that he had a map for the buyer.
Caren Archive, Lincolndale, N.Y., featured much “eye candy” for those interested in Americana. A display case of Abraham Lincoln items included a rare image of a beardless Lincoln. He also showed an Anti-Reconstruction broadside and a 1763 copperplate view of Philadelphia.
“There is nothing like Papermania in the country. I have done this show and others for over 25 years,” said dealer Eric Caren. “I do not stop doing buying, selling and sharing tales of the trade from the moment that I enter the building.”
Sale highlights included an important and early Colorado imprint circa 1859, a Lincoln Assassination broadside extra, a manuscript on the Stamp Act and a circa 1600 engraved portrait of Sir Francis Drake. “Arlene and Gary run a first rate act twice a year — I wish they did three Papermanias!” Caren added.
The show will be back at the Civic Center August 25–26. For information, www.papermaniaplus.com or 860-563-9975.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm