Extraordinary Collection of Historical Paper will either be saved/sold intact in 60 days or there will be a Stream of Caren Auctions Ala Sir Thomas Phillipps on Horizon
Eric is a 50 something with an exceptional career in a field with a phrase name he coined: "How History Unfolds on Paper" that translates to 5 centuries of all manner of printed, manuscript and photographic material. People who do this breath very rarified air. And he started early, when he was 5 and was already specialized in paper back in the days before it was called Ephemera and Paper Americana was still the common term for the overlooked material that was not in boards.
Later, while other children were watching television; he was looking over his finds and thinking about how to acquire more. He saw the future early and in time converted his enthusiasm into hundreds of thousands of pieces!
His interest in the 70’s coincided with institutional impatience with their almost never used and all but inaccessible boxes and shelves of hard copy. They might be old but no one could ever deal with them. Into that just beginning stampede Eric and a few others stepped in to buy these ancient archives that would go to them or to the dump.
In the piles were the occasional gems and veins, enough to structure a life that in time became very secure. And in the next year he expects to sell the archive that he accumulated over a lifetime. He doesn’t rule out continuing his passion but he’s planning to reverse his current system of living mainly in NY and making several trips to his beach home in Costa Rica. He sarcastically credits Donald Trump for this change in his mindset!
“The Kardashian Age" Ushers in Trump and pushes Eric Caren Out!!
By Eric C. Caren
The above headline was influenced moments ago by a commentator on CNN who (like me) referred to this place and time as "The Kardashian Age”. I have collected literally millions of items including headlines since I started collecting 52 years ago when I was 5. I have done 12 books using just the rare newspapers from my archive. My first collection sits as the nucleus of The Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue and hundreds of thousands of historical newspaper reprint compilations that circulate in Museum and Gift shops and homes around the Nation. And finally I am a member of The National Press Club so I hope that I am somewhat qualified to write those headlines. I had determined before the election to leave for my home in Costa Rica if the unimaginable but still predictable election of Donald Trump happened. I had resolved that it would signal for me the proverbial last straw. And it now has.
For years I have been known as being a relentless collector and a straight shooter. After the sale to The Newseum, I had four well-publicized and well-received "How History Unfolds on Paper" auctions at both Swann and Bonhams. Mine was the first Historical Paper (non-book) auction to break the million dollar mark and I am proud of that and everything else but I am no longer happy to continue living here and swearing allegiance to a President whom I consider to be at best a Narcissist and at worst lower than low and conversely highly dangerous.
Others have called my experience a Horatio Alger Story. Two abusive and dysfunctional parents. No financial help or inheritance, student loans and working my way through College. I started with stamps, coins baseball cards, fossils and then discovered some old yellowed newspapers in an abandoned house in Rockland County, New York where I grew up. They literally had no monetary value but they were treasure for me as an 11 year old and I put 20-30 pounds worth into my arms and walked several miles home and repeated the process twice.
After University, I had a job waiting for me at the then newly opened and posh Covent Garden Market in London directing a gallery of historical paper. After less than a year and an owner who refused to diversify as I later did into all forms of historical paper including broadsides, photographs, manuscripts, letters, etc. I came back to a very bad job market in NY 1982-3. I couldn't get a job worth a lick and worked for a time as a bank teller and a host in a Hilton restaurant. When a snooty customer in Westchester couldn't be calmed down I tried every way to do so and for it I got "Yeah, you'll go far in life (insert sarcastic tone and face here).” I shut my mouth until I got into the back room and loudly bemoaned to my lovely boss the indignity. She told me to buck it up and get back out there. I did a jig and said "Yes Ms. Manager". The waitresses all laughed but she fired me on the spot and I then got revenge by marrying her! It lasted for almost 30 years but was plagued by stepchildren from hell who she couldn't handle and so instead enabled. It was sad because our marriage had been overall good; but I asked for divorce and though she asked me to reconsider; her note to me made no mention of the reason why I was leaving nor all of the fighting over her kids that had led to that Catch 22 moment. The worst part was that I was Poppy for 11 and 7 years to two wonderful grand kids. I was refused access to them after I left and we all lost!
So here I am about 8 years later in another Catch 22. I adore my 26 acre estate in Woodstock, New York with evergreens, a contoured natural landscape and to top everything off a gorge with a river running through it. I wanted my ashes to be spread here preferably post-mortem lol (shoot me for using text talk).
But wait, there is much more going into my decision than the Trump thing! And some of it is nationally news worthy. Sir Harold Evans honored me with an article about my collecting in an issue of Bonham Magazine. That led to a meeting with him at his tony home in Manhattan. And then I was invited by him to do an exhibition at Thomson-Reuters for a private party and round-table discussion commemorating the 100th anniversary of WW1. Some of you know that means 2014. Muckety-mucks abounded and I was in the front row only 2 steps away from Dr. Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright, who were panelists. When it was over, everyone rushed around Dr. Kissinger and was staring in awe if not admiration. When one attractive blonde was let go by Kissinger, I pounced (no I didn't jump into his arms) and grabbed his hand. We had met briefly before the WW1 discussion began. I said to him "Dr. Kissinger, Would you say that we are in an undeclared World War now?" His answer was "Well, not exactly a World War per se, but something close to it" I then followed up with "Dr. Kissinger, we essentially haven't won a war since WW2; how the heck are we ever going to win another?" He looked me straight in the eye and without hesitation responded "We can't".
Combine this with my dire predictions that the Computer Age is and would continue to be the Democratization of power to the Individual including every disenchanted, nutty and paid off hacker and village idiot with a computer. Who better to ask than the co-Inventor of the Internet (no Not Al Gore) Vint Cerf who I knew casually? Early on in our communication I asked if he thought that his co-invention would be used more for the betterment or detriment of Mankind. Silly Eric, he was a spokesman for Google so predictably he responded something to the effect that "Oh it may be rocky for a while, but I think over time it will be fine". A year or so later he reversed that opinion to me!
NB: In my collection I have a double inscribed monograph by both Cerf and Kahn done by special request from me) with Dr. Kahn.
I have watched The Kardashians build an empire based on an oral sex video starring Kim on the Internet. I watched it, to be direct, with interest. But I watched with horror as young people for years deified the whole family and saw that most every young person sought to be a reality star either on TV or short of that on the Web. Some now have hundreds, nay, thousands of faux friends on Facebook and many of the Kardashian Age are card carrying members of the Narcissistic "Selfie Age", taking the "Me Generation" to new highs and lows; for my taste the latter. I am a Boomer. The latter generations amaze me. I have seen them take selfies at gas stations! I have heard well educated, bright young people admit that they are now more comfortable texting than talking and that is plain to see and hear!
I often ask myself what are parents and teachers teaching when many college grads have horrible etiquette and do not know who we fought to gain Independence and why we celebrate the 4th of July. On documentary You Tube videos you can see them not recognizing a photograph of Ronald Reagan but to a person they could tell you volumes about The Kardashians. Out in Hollywood due to the fact that several Producers wanted to make me a star in the Antiques genre (including Phil Gurin of Shark Tank fame); I literally pitched the idea of a Reality show contest to find a third party candidate for President. I was close to a network deal but then they discovered that something similar had been tried ages ago on some crappy cable channel with some crappy host and had failed. But lo and Behold; Trump skipped my TV contest and is going straight into The White House.
So I am leaving! And though I can never escape my collecting urges, The Archive is for sale and a two-volume prospectus for hundreds of thousands of items is available to qualified and serious buyers. POR but I am now more flexible than ever so if I do not get my price, I will then consider sealed bids until the end of January of 2017. If none are acceptable I will seek to sell it overseas as I have interest from the UK, Japan and China. BUT I WANT MY COLLECTION TO BE KEPT INTACT HERE. I could never do a catalog of the collection but it is available for extended viewing to qualified potential buyers by appointment. If I cannot sell it whole; sadly this American Treasure will be dispersed in many more auctions over years like Phillipps did.
The Caren Archive has been featured in the Media for years and I am proud to have been referred to as "The Babe Ruth of Historical Collecting" in the mainstream and trade press. This collection could never be put together again at any price. I successfully managed to get at least one item relating to almost every conceivable major event and historical personality from Columbus through the Computer Age! Rare newspapers, broadsides, photographs, manuscripts, letters, autographs and sundry Ephemera are contained within the Archive. If you had told me when I was a child collector that I would have to get everything that I wound up getting in order to be allowed to collect; I would have quickly declined! I was just lucky to have boundless passion and ability with regards to collecting.
I am going but will my collection be staying? Will anyone with means including our great libraries, historical Societies and university Special Collections step up to the plate? Santayana warned about not studying History. I and others am very concerned with the alteration of facts and documents due to digital manipulation. I myself have been taken in by phony news stories as well as a phony Computer Consulting company. My credit cards have been compromised 4 times. The real, the created and the manipulated are increasingly hard to distinguish from one another. THAT IS WHY OUR ORIGINALS MATTER AND COLLECTORS MATTER AND THE RARE BOOK HUB MATTERS AND EDUCATION MATTERS. Do not let the Kardashians define us. Did the Holocaust Happen? Did the American Revolution Happen? Did the Civil War Happen? Did Slavery and Oppression of Native Americans Happen? Were there Heroes and Villains in History? If increasingly people rely on Google and digital documents then Proof will cease to exist and so originals must be cherished and preserved for generations to come. Most of my wealth is in my collection otherwise I would just donate it. I can't afford to do that. But for the price of one horrible "Modern Master" painting someone or some institution can have our entire heritage!
To contact Eric Caren with inquiries about the Caren Archive: