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Archive for the ‘Ephemera’ Category

“The closest toy store to Tiger Woods’ boyhood home is a Toys ‘R’ Us in Huntington Beach, California. There’s a strong chance Earl and Kultida Woods shopped for Christmas presents here when then their son was young, and the store yesterday was girded again for the holiday rush, with Barbies and pottery kits stacked up front. For those on a budget, there was a clearance sale on action figures in the back: the NFL’s Jay Cutler in a Broncos uniform (he’s now a Bear), the NBA’s Ben Gordon as a Bull (he’s now a Piston)—and native son Woods. Regularly $15.99, the Woods action figure had been slashed to $9.98.

“So it goes these days with greatest brand in sports, now that he’s been revealed to be a horn-dog of the highest order. At press time, his major sponsors were behind him. Nike has Tiger’s back. So, too, does Gillette. And it will be hard to tell if Tiger’s travails have any effect on sales of Buicks in the short term. But as it’s Christmas shopping season, the sales of Tiger videogames (through Electronic Arts), action figures (through Upper Deck), and memorabilia offer an immediate window into the scandal’s effect.” (cont’d @ The Daily Beast)

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Shameless self-promotion, I know, but . . .

Anson Program“Since the 1970s, as a collector, as a dealer, and as an auctioneer (one-half of the highly respected Sloate & Smolin Auctions and the sole owner of About Time Auctions), Jerry Smolin has been well known as a baseball historian and as a true connoisseur of baseball memorabilia. He is one of the few collectors or dealers whose experience spans from the earliest days of the organized hobby as we know it to the present day, and he is universally respected and recognized as a true scholar in the field.  Some of the greatest treasures of baseball memorabilia of all types, especially nineteenth-century items, including cards, photography, documents, and display pieces, have passed through his hands in private sales and at auction over the past thirty years. One special area of personal collecting interest that has been a constant for all these many years has been early baseball programs. This collection of thirty-five programs (which will be presented in twenty-eight lots) was assembled with great care and patience, and with an eye for quality, rarity, historical significance, and display value. This is by far the best collection of early baseball programs we have ever offered or even seen in one place. Only the best examples of their type were added to the collection, one program at a time, armed with a great appreciation and an unmatched knowledge of what is special in the field of program collecting.” (cont’d @ Robert Edward Auctions)

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Matchcover“If smoking was their sole raison d’être, restaurant matches should by all rights have disappeared by now. After being overtaken by the disposable lighter, they have run into smoking bans of varying severity. (Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia now have laws prohibiting smoking in restaurants, according to the American Lung Association, and local jurisdictions impose their own smoke-free rules.)

Matches“Yet matches appear to be struggling back from the brink to reassert their pre-eminence among the rabble of coasters, business cards, cocktail napkins and swizzle sticks charged with hawking a restaurant’s good name. In an era of instant information access and viral publicity, logo-bearing matches may have the edge as ambassadors that convey distinction in their very physicality.” (more @ NY Times)

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bookfairArguably the most important annual book fair in the United States will be held this coming weekend, April 3-5, at the Park Avenue Armory (643 Park Avenue, at 67th Street) in New York City. General information (hours, entrance fees, etc) about the 49th annual event, organized by Sanford L. Smith and Associates and sponsored by the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America can be found here.

The list of international exhibitors can be found here.

The annual New York fair is well worth the admission price even for those uninterested in writing large checks – as an exhibition of incunabula, rare and unusual books, periodicals and literary ephemera, the New York event is unrivaled in the United States, and probably the rest of the world as well.

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“This month, a 33-year-old Belgian artist has started a project called I Got a Postcard, where people leave self-addressed stamped postcards that encourage the people who find them to personalize and mail them.

“Two weeks ago, he left his first 100 cards in 10 locations in New York City — including a library, airport, theater and bus — and waited for them to return. The cards read: ‘Dear finder, personalize this postcard and then return it to me. Be as original and artistic as possible and your creation will be submitted to igotapostcard.blogspot.com.’

“The artist, Renaud Dehareng (the artist name of Jason Burns), says he was inspired by PostSecret. And Postsecret itself was inspired by Found magazine.” (more @ NY Times)

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superman“A rare copy of the first comic book featuring Superman has sold for $317,200 in an Internet auction. . . .

The winning bid for the 1938 edition of Action Comics No. 1, whose cover features Superman lifting a car, was submitted Friday evening by John Dolmayan, drummer for the rock band System of a Down . . .

“Only about 100 copies of Action Comics No. 1 are known to exist.” (more @ LA Times)

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header1Mastro Auctions, responsible for the sale of over $250 million in sales since its inception in 1996, has ceased operations. 

“The suburban Chicago company’s assets have been taken over by a newly formed sports and Americana auction house, headed by former Mastro President and Chief Operating Officer Doug Allen, Vice President Ron Oser and Logistics and Auction Manager Mark Theotikos. The new company will be called Legendary Auctions. 

“Long-time collector/dealer Bill Mastro, who started Mastro Auctions in 1996 and served as Chairman and CEO, is leaving the hobby, according to a press release issued Tuesday night on behalf of Legendary Auctions. 

“‘Circumstances make it clear to me that the business needs to move in a different direction at this time,’ Mastro stated in the release. ‘Legendary Auctions is a positive step that allows everyone to be taken care of, especially our customers who have been so loyal. I am looking forward to taking some time off for now, and wish Legendary Auctions only the best as they move forward.'” (more @ Sports Collectors Daily)

Legendary Auction‘s Press Release announcing the acquisition of Mastro Auctions can be found here.

RelatedIs the Sports Collectibles Industry (or Mastro Auctions) on the Ropes?

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sportsstuff“The sports collectibles industry looks like it is going to take a big hit because of the souring economy, and there’s lots of speculation that the hobby’s biggest auction house, Mastro Auctions, won’t be around much longer. The Illinois company – the nation’s largest sports memorabilia auction house – is the target of a federal investigation into shill bidding and fraud, and [last month], the Daily News reported that it has problems paying consigners.” (via NY Daily News)

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[Until a few years ago, and for more than a decade, I was a prominent and respected member of the sports collectibles industry. Early on, I ran a mail order business specializing in historic and rare sports programs and tickets; and for several years after that, I ran a catalog auction, Sloate & Smolin, in partnership with Barry Sloate, a specialist in early cards and memorabilia; I also ran my own online memorabilia auction, About Time Auctions. So when I say that the sports collectibles industry has never been a place for the faint of heart, I speak from experience.

Bill Mastro, the founder and president of Mastro Auctions, has a long and complicated history with the “hobby” – Mastro is one of the people most responsible for transforming a one-time hobby into a major industry and for making a fair number of people, himself especially, quite wealthy along the way. But there are low moments in the Mastro story as well, some of which are reported by Michael O’Keeffe and Teri Thompson in their 2007 exposé, The Card: Collectors, Con Men, and the True Story of History’s Most Desired Baseball Card.

As for the broader concerns of the hobby-industry, a “crash” in the hobby market has been anticipated for years — since before I became a full-time dealer in the early 1990s — but never materialized. But this time might be different – facing the one-two punch of a sinking world economy and the possible demise of one of the industry’s leading auction houses, the hobby this time really might be going down for the count.]

Update:

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kahn-catalog“We’ve all gotten pretty used to looking for books electronically . . . with the result that most dealers, for one reason or another, but usually because of the considerable production costs involved, have moved away from the printed catalogs, which is a shame, because there is still nothing like getting a lively new list of offerings in the mail, and going through it with the kind of leisured approach such an exercise demands.” (via Fine Books & Collections)

[As a long-time collector of modern American literature, my collecting interests, if not my spending power, share much in common with Bruce Kahn’s. The sale by Ken Lopez and Tom Congalton of Kahn’s collection of signed first editions, including so many literary “high spots,” is a rare event in the book collecting world. As such, the just-issued sale catalog is, and will remain, an essential reference for collectors in this field. A copy can be obtained from Ken Lopez, a respected “Americanist” who continues to publish first-rate sales catalogs of modern American literature.]

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ca-rr-posterFour San Francisco-based institutions — the California Historical Society; the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society; the San Francisco Public Library; and the Society of California Pioneers — have received a Mellon Foundation grant of nearly $250,000 to help create the California Ephemera Project, a searchable, online catalogue featuring the ephemera of all four collections.

“The collections to be catalogued are comprised of materials that were created to be short-lived or discarded, such as brochures, catalogs, menus, billheads, mining certificates, theater programs, bylaws, political flyers, travel guides, wine labels, and more, but whose content and graphic richness are a historical and cultural resource for researchers. There is overlap in topics between the collections of the four institutions, yet many of the items themselves are unique. Often the only existing documentation for some topics, the material is relevant for research into 19th- and 20th-century California history.”

(via SFPL Online)

(Railroad Poster via California State Railroad Museum)

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guttman-space“You may feel as if you’d stepped into a quirky 19th-century museum, but that’s not how Mr. [Peter] Guttman, a travel photographer, sees the densely packed four walls, floor and ceiling of his family’s living room. His meticulously organized collection of rare folk art and handmade tools, toys, weapons, textiles, baskets, ceramics, etc., dedicated to the memory of extinct or nearly-so ways of life and assembled as snugly as a jigsaw puzzle, is ‘a mirror of my personal life,’ he said, ‘a diary of global travels.'” (Audio Slide Show) (via NY Times)

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“[Walker] Evans is foremost a giant of 20th-century photography, the instigator of a lean, elegant documentary style that was as unvarnished as it was ennobling. He immortalized gaunt sharecroppers, dilapidated plantations and bone-dry country stores in the South; worker housing and grimy factories in the industrial North; and (with a hidden camera) the unguarded expressions of New York subway riders.

“But before he was anything else, Evans was an obsessed collector of postcards. This exhibition reveals them as the through line, the wellspring of his art.”

At the end of her review of the just-opened exhibition, “Walker Evans and the Picture Postcard,” (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), Roberta Smith notes the broader cultural significance of early 20th-century picture postcards and laments the slashing of financial support for public school art programs:

“Without diminishing his achievement, this show reverberates beyond Evans. The postcards celebrate America at the beginning of the last century. They also confirm the vigor of this country’s often anonymous grass-roots art forms and the importance of popular culture to so-called high art. More sadly, in a time when schools across the country are slashing their art programs, this unusual exhibition suggests the often decisive effect of our earliest aesthetic experiences. ‘Home is where we start from,’ wrote the psychologist D. W. Winnicott. The richer the formative experiences there, the better for everyone.”

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