Published: June 20, 2023
Review & Onsite Photos by Rick Russack
BOXBOROUGH, MASS. — Paper Town, produced by Flamingo Eventz on Saturday, June 10, offered a vast assortment of history, ready to take home. From a selection of 40,000 postcards starting at $1 each to a $4,000 Masonic medal and an $8,750 photograph of Sojourner Truth, there was material to satisfy almost any interest and any pocketbook. The 37 dealers brought early board games, rock ‘n’ roll posters, broadsides for the executions of Nineteenth Century murderers, children’s books, Big Little books, as well as books on many subjects, baseball memorabilia, political buttons, advertising posters, counterfeit currency detectors, early newspapers, tons of advertising posters and brochures, to name just a few of the buying options available. This was not a show for those who want to be in and out of a place in a short time. Shoppers had to take their time to go through boxes, albums and piles that may have included just the treasure they wanted.
Most dealers had their stuff well organized. Michael Blood, Rockport, Maine, does business as The Postcard Dude; he had several tables full of boxes of postcards, with clear markers as to what was in the box, for example by state, and within the box, by town or city. He said that he had about 40,000 cards at the show and that he actually owned about 250,000 cards. Prices ranged from $1 to $200 each. Chairs were available so that customers could comfortably browse. Blood said that he has been selling postcards for about 22 years. One young shopper that we spoke with said this was just the second show that she ever attended, and it was postcards that she was looking for. Gloucester, Mass., is her hometown and she started to collect postcards of that area. Several other dealers also had selections of postcards.
There were several dealers with political items. Jim and Carol Gaughran, Northport, N.Y., had several display cases with political, and other buttons. A Richard Nixon button was $20, a MacArthur button was $15, a Ronald Reagan button, with the slogan “Fastest Gun In The West” was $120. Robert Moffatt, Auburn, Mass., also had a selection of buttons. Several dealers had political ephemera: brochures, posters, newspapers with political content and broadsides.
Speaking of broadsides, Peter Luke, New Baltimore, N.Y., had some that form a niche in themselves: broadsides of executions of Nineteenth Century criminals. Some are quite explicit, showing the criminals hanging on gallows and describing the crime. One such broadside depicted the hanging of Franz Muller, a German national, for the 1864 murder of Thomas Briggs. The crime took place on a railway train, near London, the first murder on a train. The story captured the imagination of British readers as police pursued the killer to New York City. The Scotland Yard detectives, when they learned Muller had taken a steamship to New York, boarded a faster ship and were awaiting Muller when his ship arrived. Luke priced it $500. He had another broadside, this one without illustration, describing the 1822 execution of Thomas Donachy in Scotland. His crime was described as housebreaking and theft of bottles of wine.
A variety of photographica was available in several booths. Rex Stark, Gardiner, Mass., had a quarter-plate daguerreotype of the Winthrop Institute For Young Ladies in Deep River, Conn. It depicted the large three-story building with a couple, presumably the school’s proprietors, on the front steps, girls at the windows and a horse-drawn carriage. A very clear image in a full leather case, Stark was asking $4,500. He also had a large albumen photograph of Sojourner Truth, a former slave who became an advocate of abolition and the temperance movements. Stark’s label noted that this image was probably the largest known image of her, and he priced it $8,750.
Mark Penney, Written Relics, Alton Bay, N.H., had a table full of Daguerrean and ambrotype portraits, most priced for less than $50. Joe Reilly, Portland, Maine, had a box of stereoviews, each priced $10. Richard Thorner, Resser-Thorner Antiques, Manchester, N.H., had an 1858 albumen photo of Henry B. Adams, author of Education of Henry Adams, which posthumously won the Pulitzer Prize in 1919 and was named by the Modern Library as “the best English-language nonfiction book of the Twentieth Century.” Adams descended from two American presidents, and his father, Charles Francis Adams, was Lincoln’s ambassador to the United Kingdom who worked to keep Britain neutral during the Civil War. Thorner said early photographs of Adams as a young man are rare and he was asking $1,950.
The selection of children’s books and games was wide. Val Paul Auger, Rivermill Books, Holliston, Mass., had an 1864 hand-colored edition of the highly moralistic board game, “The Mansion Of Happiness,” which was published by Henry Ives of Salem, Mass. The small first edition was later reprinted several times. When Parker Brothers bought the rights to the game in 1888, they advertised it as the earliest board game published in this country, an incorrect claim as that distinction belongs to “The Travellers’ Tour Through the United States,” which was published by New York City bookseller F. Lockwood in 1822.
Picture This Antiques, Boyleston, Mass., had a colorful lithographed French board game, “Jue Fin De Sielle (End of The Century).” Times had changed and games did not have to be moralistic; this game was based upon the major inventions of the Nineteenth Century. It was priced $115. Rex Stark had a copy of “Regle Du Jue L’Affaire Dreyfus” a game based on the Dreyfus Affair, a French scandal concerning antisemitism, which resulted in Captain Dreyfus’s conviction of treason in 1894. He spent five years on Devil’s Island and, in 1906, was exonerated; this game dates to about that time. Stark priced the rare game $1,400. Several dealers, including Barbara Smith of Northampton, Mass., and the Barrow Book Store, Concord, Mass., had wide selections of books for children.
In addition to carrying a wide range of books, Barrow Book Store, which has been in business for 53 years, concentrates on Concord authors such as Emerson, Thoreau, Bronson Alcott and daughter Louisa May Alcott. At this show, they had two scarce works based on Alcott’s Little Women. Originally published in two parts, in 1868 and 1869, there were numerous pirated editions of both parts, often with differing titles to get around copyright rules. Barrow had two pirated titles published in England known as railroad books, because they were sold at railroad stations. One volume was titled Little Women and the companion was titled Good Wives. Jamie Jaroff explained the complicated publishing history of Little Women and she priced the two books $475.
Back issues of magazines were abundant. Robinson Murray III had back issues of Maine Antiques Digest magazine, mostly priced at $8 each and issues of National Lampoon, listed at $6-8 each. As the business name indicates, Joe’s Big Little Books, Plainville, Mass., specializes in Big Little books. He had hundreds in his booth but said he has about 2,000 at home. Tailspin Tommy was priced $5; Robbers Roost, a Roy Rogers title, was priced $50, with a Dick Tracy title and Secret Agent X-9, both also $50.
When asked what got him interested, Joe D’Aniello said, “It all started when I was 5 years old and was watching Davy Crockett on TV. And then there were all the TV Westerns with stars like Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, the Lone Ranger, programs like Gunsmoke and others. One of the highlights of my childhood was getting to see the Lone Ranger in person. He was touring, on a train, and at each station would wave to the crowd. That did it. I was hooked.” He also remembered Gene Autry’s Phantom Empire. Those of a certain generation may recall this 1935 12-chapter serial science fiction classic about aliens living under Autry’s Melody Ranch. When made into a movie in 1940, it became known as the first science-fiction Western.
Rock ‘n’ roll posters were availed from Fred Callabretta, Mystic, Conn. A poster for a 1966 Jefferson Airplane concert in San Francisco was $65; a 1966 poster for Buffalo Springfield and other performers was priced $85. He had several 1960s handbills for San Francisco concerts. He was asking $45 for a copy of the Rolling Stone Woodstock special edition. When asked if he had been there, the answer was “yup.”
Other dealers had protest movement posters. Rex Stark had one for the 1979 National March at the UN for a Black Solidarity event. Picturing Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr and several other Black leaders, it was $1,300.
After the show, show owners and managers Tina and John Bruno said attendance was strong in the morning, and by noon, several dealers said they had done well. “We try to make this an easy and fun show for our dealers. The space is large, booth rents are low, and dealers can have as much room as they need. And it’s easy for them to get their stuff in and out of the building. Our attendance has been steady and we’re seeing more and more young people. We think that’s due to promoting heavily on social media. We’ve been doing this for 35 years and this show has always been our favorite. When people go to a regular antiques show, whether it was one of ours or someone else’s, they can, in general, know what to expect. With this show, you can never — repeat never — know what you’ll find. Some of the long-time collectors are here for the entire day, literally digging through piles, looking through albums and talking to dealers.”
Flamingo Eventz’s next Papertown Show in Boxborough is scheduled for Saturday, October 14.
For information, 603-509-2639 or www.flamingoeventz.com.
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