A Little Paper Ephemera Excursion

One of our fabulous finds.

After spending a nice day and night at a B&B in the Pocanos, we were perusing locations on the iphone where we could delve into more books, cooking pamphlets, postcards, etc like we’d bought for each other at antique malls as Christmas presents and we came across The Archive in Landsdale PA. We were

Necessary books, despite missing the half price sale.

lured by the promise of a huge attic sale of 1 dollar items, fill a bag for 5. Today we motored through Philly and hit the place if not running, at least walking quickly. And stopped in stride when we spotted a sign exclaiming a half price sale for all books–starting tomorrow. I cannot tell you how pissed I was over this new factor. Because we can’t be popping back and forth this distance and I wasn’t about to pay full price for something that would be drastically less expensive in 24 hours. Nonetheless I perused the children’s section, finding an Alice I didn’t own, a book about making dolls and dollhouses, and an obscure title illustrated by Maria Kirk. I did something I never do, I became pushy–I asked “could we pretend it’s tomorrow”? Naturally the answer was in the negative. I walked away.

The chilly warehouse like space is chock full of paper, and more paper, and a few pieces of paper. Magazines, sheet music, photographs, posters, greeting cards

Boxes and boxes of magazines.

and more. Vinyl records, cassette tapes, and various collectibles were there too, but I took a bee line to boxes of loose stuff, and happened upon old movie star cigarette cards in terrible condition, but usable for my purposes. At a buck a piece, I spent an hour or more shifting through to come up with serviceable stars, such as Myrna Loy, Basil Rathbone, Joan Crawford, and my personal favorite, Conrad Veidt. My husband had already been through stacks of albums, choosing several he thought would be nice additions to his collection of unknown wacky musicians. Unfortunately, Helen Morgan, the torch singer of the late 20s, 30s, was quite famous, and I had to break that news to him, lol. Back she went. He did add a rather odd album from Vince Edwards, TV’s Dr. Ben Casey singing live in Vegas. If his singing is any where near as bad as his acting, the album will be some auditory experience.  There were highly priced Argosy magazines, as well as detective pulps, and less expensive stacks of Etude, a useless thing unless a music fanatic, except for gorgeous covers by an artist no one seems to know but me, F. S. Cooke. A wonderful Christmas cover revealed itself, and it went into my ‘may’ purchase  pile. I found a section tagged Illustrators, and within were some of the hated ‘removed plates’ I rail about. Beautiful book plates removed from their texts drive me batty, unless the book is ready to fall to pieces or there are already missing pages. Since there is no way to know whence the plates came, I have to give up and decide if I will rescue a loose illustration, thus by continuing the bad practice, or pass it by. Sometimes love of the art outweighs other considerations, and I had to buy a pristine

Children’s book section.

Jessie Wilcox Smith illustration I’d never seen before. At least the place wasn’t charging insane prices as some do online, especially on etsy. There were many more I craved, but budgets being what they are, and my budget belonged to my partner, I refrained from scooping up everything in sight and moved on to a box of one dollar greeting cards.

I have a fondness for Deco storybook cottages, doesn’t matter what holiday or sentiment. There were a plenty within this box, but I had to think hard before choosing–are these for my personal collection, or will they help in the digital business? It was tough, because they could do both, but not ten zillion cottages. So I limited myself to the ones most likely to succeed and found other fantastic cards for various occasions. I was pretty sure I’d already blown my wad, especially after spotting a little vivid Deco booklet from a 1920s life insurance company with all nursery rhymes within. The most expensive piece I’d considered at $15.00, I had to weigh my own propensity towards anything Mother Goose, against how something like this may help our wee business. It was a tough call, because I know I am Mother Goose crazy, but we have had good luck with some rhyme pieces, and

Vast amounts of paper.

Deco is our little specialty, and anyhow, I talked myself into believing it would be a gigantic boon to the biz. I hope to heavens it at least gets some play!

We brought our finds up to the counter, where some stuff was already laid, to be sorted through. My husband had specifically asked that nothing be written up until we had gone through everything we chose, but as usual, this was ignored, and the mother of the absent owner had started adding up our stash. I find that in places like antique malls full of collectibles etc., they demand you leave anything you are interested in at the front counter, because they naturally don’t want you walking around with a piece, not only for theft reasons, but because damage can occur. And I’m fine with that–what bugs me and probably others, is that a collector may be interested in one thing in one booth, and something else in another, etc, and not know which of the things they will finally decide upon until they are all laid out in front of them. Some places think that if they calculate your finds immediately and wrap them up, you will be compelled to purchase them, before  finalizing your choices. This occurs around one half of all visits. In this case, I don’t think that was the motive, I believe she just wanted to be efficient and keep up to speed. But it required she start all over again, because my pile had gotten mixed with my husband’s. As I shuffled through the greeting cards, I removed a few, and then a few more, until I got down to 17 I just couldn’t live without. The cigarette cards were set–25 stars were to go home with me.  The magazine, book plate, and pamphlet were given the go ahead along with an adorable piece of vintage wrapping paper depicing kids on amusment rides for 2 bucks. After calculating I found I had around $8  more of our business budget, so caved and bought the how to doll and dollhouse book for $ 7 despite knowing tomorrow it would be $3.50. From my husband and my personal budget, there was a little leeway, so I grabbed the Alice book–again aware I was paying double than what it would cost the very next day. That only left the Maria Kirk illustrated book from my ‘I really want’ brain, and after taking the one buck left from the company budget, one buck left from the personal budget, and three bucks from my wallet in the car, and two dollars in change from the husband’s pocket– we came up with the total $7 we needed.

The only way were were able to get that last book, the lady and fellow seller gave us a break with no tax. Tax would have been probably the exact price of the last book, so in a way, a little way, I did get the half price–at least for one title. Somehow, it’s so much more satisfying if you believe you’d gotten a bargain, whether you really have or not. Oh, and we never made it upstairs to the giant sale. Such is the way of the fanatic collector.


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