My Once-a-Year Fix
- by Bruce E. McKinney
Once a year I get a heads up from Peter Luke that he has assembled a stack of ephemera for me. He’s an antique, book and paper dealer in the upper Hudson Valley of New York State who, about once a year, sends me material relevant to my New York State collection. He’s a fan of oversized Priority Mail boxes. I know this because his offers arrive in them, taped at the corners, and encased in indestructible film that experience has taught me will require industrial grade clippers to penetrate. This year he sent me two boxes, in other years three. I never know what to expect and am rarely disappointed.
I collect books and of course maps, manuscripts, ephemera and paintings. Ephemera is interesting but so random it’s difficult to set boundaries that define what is in and what is out. So he tries to set them for me and is forever coaxing me to consider material well beyond my geographical focus.
This year the shipment was a bit on the small side; 38 items. In past years I recall there have been 70 or 80. But such material appears randomly and there will be both thin and abundant years. This was a slim year.
My focus is the mid-Hudson Valley, a seven county area that mostly borders the Hudson River; Ulster, Dutchess, Orange, Sullivan, Greene and Columbia counties. I have convinced myself that library science will someday reconstruct local day-to-day history to create a fresh and very different perspective on local life, social attitudes, political motivations and economic reality. So I’m committed and random pieces regularly arrive as I’m constantly looking to acquire such material.
I mainly buy ephemera on eBay and occasionally more significant items at auction. A single menu or the account records of a 19th century paper-making factory don’t often make it into traditional auctions so I have to slum a bit, slogging through the mud of the utterly random but occasionally exceptionally rewarding. In this way I have acquired about 5,000 items,
Peter’s material this year runs the range from very appealing to barely of interest but it is difficult not to buy it all because of how he prices his material. A $100 item, if bought by it self will cost $80. However, if you buy all the items offered the price is $70. Over the years I have always bought all the material for the best discount. This year’s packages were priced at $2,295 and if purchased complete $1,640.
The prices bear only a mild relationship to value. Not many people actually know [and I’m not one of them that doesn’t] what such miscellaneous material is worth. You can go years and not see a category of material and then be besieged for months as a single institution or collector floods the market. Through it all you learn to identify with the collector or dealer who says “In forty years I’ve never see it before.” With ephemera that is regularly the case.
Here is a list of the material I recently purchased. Please note that the 10 images accompanying this article are what I found most interesting.
|1||The Dr. C. O. Sahler Sanitarium||Kingston-0n-Hudson, N. Y. 20 pgs + printed covers.||$75|
|2||Rifton Mills Ulster County||A coupon, printed on one side||$30|
|3||Mountain House, Catskill Mtns||$85|
|4||West Point Fall Hops 1926||1926||1926||A dance list||$35|
|5||Willis, Zephaniah||A copy book||1783||1783||Kingston [New York]||$65|
|6||Orange County Agricultural Institute||1846||1846|
|7||Eight Photographs of Mohonk [actually Minnewaska]||$175|
|8||Apricultural Fair. Farmers' Club of the Town of Lumberland||1913||1913||36 pg. + printed wrap.||$30|
|9||Supplement to the "Index to American Genealogies," issued in 1886||1888||1888||$20|
|10||Guide to the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains||1893||1893||261 pp. with maps and printed wrap||$100|
|11||Vassar College. A College for Women, in Poughkeepsie, N. Y.||1873||1873||A sketch of its foundation, aims, and resources, and of the development of its scheme of instruction to the present time. New-York: S. W. Green||$15|
|12||Annual Report of the Inspector and Board of Visitors of the United States Military Academy …||1870||1870||$20|
|13||Ninth Annual Catalogue of the Officers and Students of Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, N. Y. 1873-74||1874||1874||31pp. Disbound.||$15|
|14||Langthorn, J. S.||Brooklyn Engineer's Club||nd||Methods used in Preliminary Work on a Catskill Resevoirs …||$35|
|15||Hudson River by Daylight||1907||1907||32 pg. pamphlet||$15|
|16||A Sermon preached by the author in Lincoln's Inn, London, Nov. 19, 1971||1873||1873||16 pg. Albany" Joel Munsell||$70|
|17||By a Counsellor at Law||Review of the Testimony given before the General Court Martial, upon the trial of Brig, General George Talcott, …||1851||1851||112 pg. + printed wraps.||$175|
|19||One Hundredth Anniversary of the building of the Hopewell Church, …||186||186||$15|
|20||Berkey, Charles P.||Quality of Bluestone in the Vicinity of the Ashokan Dam||$20|
|21||Todd, John A.||The Death of Washington Irving: A Discourse delivered in the Second Reformed Dutch Church, …||1859||1859||16 pg. + printed wrap.|
|22||1806 Manuscript notes on Sunday School classes||36 pg. disbound. Relating in part to Poughkeepsie and Fishkill||$75|
|23||Minutes of the Warwick Baptist Association||1810||1810||$185|
|24||Tator, Henry H, Esq.||An[sp] Eulogy commerative of the character of Hon. Henry Clay||1852||1852||22 pg. + printed wrap. Albany: Joel Munsell||$50|
|25||de Peyster, J. Watts||The Eclaireur, A Military Journal||1854||1855||Volume II. Platt & Schram, Printers, Poughkeepsie||$250|
|26||Summer Price List of Strawberry Plants||1878||1878||$55|
|27||View from Plazza of the Mountain Top||1899||1899||$100|
|28||Mountain House, Catskill Mts.||1899||1899||$100|
|29||Vail, R. W. G.||The Ulster County Gazette and its Illegitimate Offspring||1951||1951||$20|
|30||List of Prints, Books, Manuscripts, Etc. relating to Henry Hudson, The Hudson River, Robert Fulton and Steam Navagation||1909||1909||86 pp. A bibliography of material relating to the Hudson River||$25|
|31||Mountin House Letter||1888||1888||$65|
|32||Souvenir - Wallkill Valley Farmer's Association||1898||1898||$30|
|33||Elizabeth Wright to Edwin Williamson Quit Claim Deed||1845||1845||Transfer upon death||$25|
|34||Journal of the Second Esopus War||$20|
|35||Hubbard Gleaner & Binder||nd||nd||John H. Duxbury, Pine Plains, agent for Dutchess County||$125|
|36||Office of the Washington Iron Works||1860||1860||Letter.||$50|
|37||Owen, Gerge W.||The Leech Club; or, the Mysteries of the Catskills||1874||1874||Boston: Lee & Shepard, Publishers||$65|
|38||Best, Gerald M.||Minisink Valley Express||1956||1956||A history of the Port Jervis, Monticello & New York Railroad||$20|
With books you can acquire them one-by-one but for ephemera you have to hope there are a few Peter Luke’s looking out for you.
Peter Luke Antiques, Ephemera, Old & Rare Books
P. O. Box 282
New Baltimore, New York 12124