By David Smith
HARTFORD, CONN. — The 42nd edition of Papermania – Plus took place at the Hartford Civic Center over the weekend of August 24-25. As always, a large crowd was on hand for the opening of this perennial favorite and few if any of the attendees were disappointed by the vast selection offered. The show has always been a lively event, filled with pertinent historical ephemera, post cards, vintage photography, posters, prints and sporting memorabilia.
Despite the large crowd on hand and brisk activity at the opening of this most recent outing, this year’s show opened on a somewhat somber note as the late Papermania promoter and beloved dealer Paul Gipstein’s recent unexpected passing was recognized. Paul, always a gentleman with encouraging words, an extended hand and a wonderful smile, was remembered in an announcement moments prior to the show opening by his son and new Papermania promoter Gary Gipstein. Virtually all dealers on the floor stopped whatever it was that they were doing, listened devoutly, and many observed a brief moment of silence afterward — most probably recalling fond memories of the late veteran of the Connecticut antiques world.
Within a couple moments of the announcement the doors to Papermania flew open and in typical tradition “the show went on” with throngs of ephemera-crazed buyers scampering about the floor. Numerous sales were witnessed as fleeting buyers dashed from one booth to another, sealed with a nod and a quick note to “put it away.”
Historical treasures are always prevalent at Papermania and this year was no disappointment. As always, Rex Stark offered up a fine selection, including a letter by Texas hero William Barret Travis, Commandant at the Alamo, written to David Burnet and urging him to run for judge. Among the other rdf_Descriptions offered was a rare scrimshawed whale’s tooth with a scene commemorating the monument at Bunker Hill and Joseph Warren, the commanding offer who was killed during the battle. A nice tintype of General George Custer was also available from the dealer as well as an eight- by ten-inch albumen print of Chief Rain in the Face, which Stark described as “one of the best known examples.”
Fine historical treasures can also be found in the booth of the Caren Archives, Lincolndale, N.Y., such as the rare 12- by 16-inch Civil War albumen print of General McClellan and 14 of his officers. Caren also offered a good selection of Native American CDVs including Chief Joseph and One Bull, the nephew of Sitting Bull. Caren pointed out what he described as “the largest known” silver print of Lincoln made from the Hessler negative. “This is the largest of its type,” said the dealer, “no one has ever seen the image this big.”
The booth of Ken Schultz, Hoboken, N.J., is always a popular spot with World’s Fair collectors and the 1939 New York World’s Fair collectors are rarely disappointed with his display. Among the coveted rdf_Descriptions shown were a rare Bakelite cigarette holder in green with an orange orb, a very rare and mint condition travel alarm clock and several pocket knives.
Daniel Mevnier of Blue Mountain Books, Catskill, N.Y., offered a nice autograph book with several presidents and statesmen featured, including Millard Fillmore, John Quincy Adams, James Buchanan and Daniel Webster. One of the more interesting pieces in the booth, however, was a signed 1717 document by Sir Isaac Newtown as Master of the Mint authorizing payment of sums to mint coinage.
Poster dealer Nancy Steinbock, Chestnut Hill, Mass., offered her usual assortment of fine posters available, although one piece stood out from the rest as a rare poster featuring tennis was displayed. The piece was filled with vibrant colors and featured the extremely rare images of several women playing on courts with a mansion in the background. “Women are virtually never featured in a poster such as this and to have so many and in such a glamorous setting is very unusual,” said the dealer.
Elliott Sherman always displays a fun selection with a wide variety of merchandise ranging from early Harley Davidson memorabilia to rock and roll. Perhaps the neatest rdf_Description in the booth this time around was an early “Flash Gordon” type helmet that was either a theater or movie prop.
Ed Cohen displayed a vast selection of early photography including a rare CDV of Robert Shaw, Colonel of the Mass. 54th division, the only US “Colored” division at the time. Shaw later died at the Battle of Fort Wagner and his career was later remembered in the Hollywood movie Glory.
Perhaps the most interesting sporting memorabilia rdf_Description to appear on the floor was offered by Mark Rucker of Transcendental Graphics, Boulder, Colo., in the form of a rare Cuban Billikin Cigarette poster. The poster featured many of the American Negro League’s finest players who wintered in Cuba.