Published: February 18, 2020
Review by W.A. Demers, Photos Courtesy Hillcrest Promotions
HARTFORD, CONN. – Advertising, photography and antique paper lovers rejoiced once again as Papermania Plus returned to the XL Center on January 11-12. Hillcrest Promotions has been running paper and antiques shows continuously since 1975, and Papermania Plus is one of the top shows for paper and memorabilia in the United States. The January event marked the 77th Papermania Plus, and some scenes and notable items from the weekend are pictured on these pages.
“While the antiques and ephemera show industry has seen some changes in longstanding shows, ours is one of the largest and longest running in the nation,” said show promoter Gary Gipstein. “We are grateful to be able to bring together a wide array of quality dealers with buyers from across the region. This year’s January show brought out varied groups of buyers, young and old alike. Many were new to the show and enjoyed attending.”
Vendors came from across the United States, bringing items to sell, share and display. A two-hour appraisal clinic on January featured Gary Sohmers, known for his appearances on the PBS-TV program Antiques Roadshow, to advise visitors on the value of their own items. “The appraisal time brought people in to find out something about their ‘treasures.’ It’s always well received,” said Gipstein.
Greg Gibson, owner of Gloucester, Mass.-based Ten Pound Island Book Company, can always be counted upon to share his thoughts on the show and the state of the trade in his Bookman’s Blog, and a day after the show he posted a few thoughts on Papermania: “Dealers exhibiting at Papermania have always been of the same stripe – ephemera specialists who came into the trade in the 1970s-80s. There was no internet back then, so we learned to sell our wares by doing shows. However, subsequent generations of ephemera dealers do much more of their business on eBay and similar venues. They don’t need to schlep vans full of paper to Hartford twice a year…this show is shrinking because the cohort of old-school paper dealers is shrinking. We’re retiring, becoming old and infirm and, gasp, dying. Meanwhile, those folks who line up in the lobby every year – many of whom are dealers – actually appear to be getting younger.”
Ephemera dealer Eric Caren responded to Gibson’s assessment in the comments section of the blog, in part saying, “I came with mixed emotions, but left with the same feeling that I had decades ago! I enjoyed the hunt and bought everything from The Boston Massacre to Madonna – hey, 5 bucks and part of history. I also had great talks with lots of friends who still carry on. Many of them were quite pleased with sales results. I have noted with satisfaction that something like a third of Ephemera Society Show dealers are ABAA. Back in the day, book dealers on the whole turned their nose up at paper. Many of their noses are still up, but not due to paper. They race – well, not exactly – around Papermania buying the treasures, that are, and will always be abundant at paper shows.”
New York City dealer David Cohn, who specializes in decorative items – think whimsically themed wallpapers – said he enjoyed the show very much. “It seemed like there was a decent crowd, and there was a bit of a buzz throughout the day,” he reported. Among his sales was an automobilia piece to a past customer.
There were some new programs presented for this winter edition of the show. WorthPoint.com chief executive officer Will Seippel and eBay Hall of Famer Danna Crawford were onsite on January 11 to offer a free seminar on how to discover hidden treasures at ephemera and memorabilia shows like Papermania Plus. Registrants were then able to explore the items onsite to search for rare and unique items of value. “About 20 people attended and discovered the variety that Papermania Plus has to offer in the treasure hunt,” said Gipstein. “Their event coordinator has already set time aside to attend our next show.”
The winter show is complemented by a one-day summer event that this year is scheduled for August 22. For information, www.papermaniaplus.com or 860-280-8339.
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