Finding desirous books can be quite serendipitous. For example, last Saturday at a very large book and ephemera show in Allentown PA, I found three titles I never dreamed of locating within a reasonable budget, and certainly not in person. Maybe through bookfinder’s ABE., or Biblio, but on a table or shelf right in front of my face? Unlikely. Yet that is just what occurred. Myself, my husband, and my friend took the jaunt to the Pennsy town, not expecting much, or less for that matter. We’d all just been to the NY Antiquarian Book Show and were a little shellshocked at the prices. I’ve been to paper ephemera shows many times, and there is no way to gauge what will be selling within. Tons of postcards is a given, but other than that, it’s complete guesswork. We’d barely made it through the doors when I spotted a shelf claiming half price, and noticed the titles were of children’s illustrated books. I made a bee-line, the other two wandered off to parts unknown, and I lingered a good half to three quarters of an hour at the one booth. I opened each possible purchase, checked content, condition, and mostly price, then put them back when I decided even at half the cost, it was too much for my budget. I’d brought my earnings from the last few weeks of my etsy shop, and never intended to spend much of it. However, a couple of gorgeously illustrated books I’d never seen before caught my eye. One, a gigantic book with tons of small colorful illustrations, and some full page ones, became a contender for purchase because I’d never heard of the illustrator before. On the Road to Make-Believe, by Frederick J. Forster is composed of a bunch of poems the author came up with, based on Mother Goose rhymes and fairy tales. Interesting, but hardly compelling lit, the illustrations by Uldene Trippe sold me on it. What kind of name is Uldene? Male or female? After googling today, I didn’t find info on the name, but two other titles by the same author were illustrated by Trippe. I grabbed two little linen like 6 page paperbacks of Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella illustrated by a favorite, Gordon Robinson, who has a sly kind of humor to
his work. The older women look quite alike in each book, all with ugly little faces with odd expressions. Another must have was a Art Decoish book with children in their playtime activities, very light pretty colors and lines by Ruth Hambidge, another illustrator I am unfamiliar with. It’s finally dawning on me that there are gazillion of artists that are not grouped among the elite of the Golden Age, that are perfectly fine in their own right, and forgotten by time. Hopefully, they will get more attention through the blog and my etsy store, lol, because their work is splendiferous.
My big find at this first stop was a book I’d seen only on flickr, and lusted after since. The Jolly Twisters! It’s beat up, spine gone, binding almost apart, scuffed externally, but internally, all illustrations are unmarked, bright, and fantastico. Written by Harriet Boyd, and illustrated by Corinne Ringel Bailey, it depicts bead-like dolls at a carnival, on horses, cooking, just plain having a swell time. I checked when I returned, just in case I’d been able to buy one all this time on the internet–nothing came up when I typed it in bookfinder. Yippee, cheap, and fairly rare. My kind of
find! All in all, that first spot was a gold mine of treasures for me, and took more than half my budget.
I began wandering around at that point, being lured this way and that. Vintage posters hung for a billion dollars in some booths, movie title cards, politically incorrect ads, fashion plates, vintage Halloween (sigh, the days of collecting that is over, prices are extreme), and all manner of paper that is appealing to me, as my range of collecting is fairly vast. But I stuck to trying to find those things that would enable my teeny business to thrive. The next thing I came to was full of magazines, many with covers by Philadelphian Jessie Wilcox Smith, but the one that caught my eye had a C. Coles Phillips cover. 1920. Ladies Home Journal. And oh, the ads inside! Another Phillips, one of Willy Pogany–a Djer Kiss perfume ad–a couple of Wolf clothing, and Halloween place cards. I got a great deal on it and left thinking it couldn’t get better than this, and maybe I’d ought to find my companions.
That idea went south quickly when I happened upon a booth made up of nothing but children’s books. Most looked new–meaning 70s, 80s, but in the back was a section of classics, and I thumbed through the spines, nearly dropping my jaw to China when a title I’d just tried to find an affordable copy on bookfinder, popped up–Snythergen, with insane illustrations by Dugald Stewart Walker–a brand
new favorite fav of mine. Bizarre story, bizarrer illustrations, I’d seen the pictures online (becoming my biggest pal and nemesis, because then I want to own them all) and knew this was a must have. I fear opening the boards to reveal the price penciled on the half title page–when I saw 20 bucks, my jaw went through China and back up to the surface. After perusing some others, I found a reprint of Peacock Pie, a bunch of goofy kids poems illustrated by the equally goofy W. Heath Robinson. Also 20 bucks. That just about did it for my budget, so i believed. I left the booth a thrilled and content collector.
But then I stubbled across some Deco bridge tallies, which I never find except online, and couldn’t resist, I found more money within my purse, and purchased a couple. I hear a woman ask if I were Diane, and thinking, uh oh, did I go to high school with her, college? She explained my friend had told her to be on the lookout for a redhead, that I’d love her booth. Well, yes and no. Yes she had all the Deco paper stuff I love, and no, because my bank had dwindled. But I carefully covered every inch of her booth, finding a dollar cottage Christmas card, when she ushered me to a table to go through her piles of tallies. It was hard, but I stuck to purchasing only a couple, plus a Mother Goose kids handkerchief box with fantastic graphics, and moldy handkerchief within. I had to locate the husband to help pay for these choices. Good luck. I’ve no cell phone, something people who feel they need to get
in touch with me at any point deplore, so I couldn’t call to find where he was. My friend had hers, so they could figure out how to find each other, but I was lost among eons and eons of sweet smelling aged paper.
After traveling aisles and aisles, forgetting to look at people instead of wares, I came across my friend, who suggested I call the husband, and we were able to return and get my picks. And wow, I found another 30 bucks somehow within my wallet. Still, he had to chip in ten dolores, and with that, I was sure my purchase time was at an end. However, just as we were winding up our trip, I noticed Mopsy The Fairy, illustrated by Dorothy Lathrop on someone’s table. I assumed there was no way I could stretch my budget to include this sought after piece-after all, I couldn’t find extra money forever, and I assumed because it was illustrated by the renown Lathrop, that it would have an outrageous price tag. Wouldn’t you figure the owner of the both had left for food (you mean they let the venders eat?) and naturally it was the one thing in the show unmarked. After a bit of waiting, the seller returned,
and I asked the question with a defeated air, assuming my luck had run it’s course. When the quote of yet another 20 bucks came, I didn’t hesitate. I turned to the husband, held out my hand, he gave me the dough, and it was mine!! Unfortunately that meant his last purchase of a biblio 1934 movie and Fortune Magazine with an illustrator with the same last name as his, would have come down to only getting one, due to my shanghaiing his last pennies. At the last minute I dug even deeper into the black pit of my Charming Charlie’s purse, and was able to retrieve enough to pay for the movie, and he happily got his magazine.
With all these treasures, I had the collector’s glow, which lasts, as anyone who also has this disease knows, only lasts a short time, until another expedition uncovers more bounty from booksellers and ephemera vendors.