Saturday, January 5, 2008

King of the Wild Frontier!!

Just back from Papermania in Hartford, Connecticut, one of the few remaining east coast paper/ephemera shows still worth attending (the others being the Ephemera Society Annual Meeting and the semi-annual paper show at the fairgrounds at Allentown, Pennsylvania).

One major purchase, The Davy Crockett Almanac for 1842. Paid $1100, a good buy considering that a great group of 21 Crockett Almanacs sold last October for $50,000 plus a 7 1/2 percent buyer's premium (pre-auction estimate $50,000-75,000). See link for complete auction listing and excellent scholarship, additional images concerning Crockett almanacs.
Crockett Almanacs are extremely important Americana. Davy Crockett was really the first great American folk hero and these almanacs, published between 1835 and 1857 were principally responsible for creating the folklore which perpetuates to this day. Right Mr. Disney? Crockett himself started the ball rolling. Books appeared about his exploits as early as 1832 and the first almanac was published in 1835, a year prior to his legendary death at the Alamo.

In fact, the infatuation with the American west and its personalities pretty much begins here. Add in a little James Fenimore Cooper, a good helping of Buffalo Bill and a dash of Ned Buntline and you've pretty much understood why we presently can't get enough of western movies and TV shows.
The Dime Novels and Story Papers, beginning with Seth Jones in 1860 (right image), clearly modeled after Crockett introduced in Beadle's Dime Novel #6 in 1860 (also in the Lomazow personal collection) introduced Jones and sold a whopping 400,000 copies! Testimony to the amazingly ephemeral nature of the Dime Novels is that only a handful of the original 400,000 still exist!
The perpetuation and evolution of the folklore is clear. After the Dime Novel era (1860-mid 1920's), came the pulp magazines (late 1890's to mid 1950's) then the comic books (beginning in earnest in the mid-1930's) until television and movies, when the youth of America stopped reading and began watching.

I do love origins and the reasons why we think what we think today. Our periodicals are a direct reflection of our popular culture. That's why collecting and studying them is so much fun. This is a magnificent example.

1 comment:

storypapers said...

Nice buy Steve!

I for one believe that the Crockett Almanacs are truely the birth of mass meida popular culture in America.
Now, they are also mentioned in the OVERSTREET COMIC PRICE GUIDE for their early humor illustraions.

These are some of the reasons why I bought the 21 at Sloan's auction (and it was 17.5% fee!)
Remember however, that some of the later Crockett's (all were in great shape) are rarely, if ever, seen for sale and are that much scarcer than some of the earlier issues.

I beleive with what I had, I now have the only complete year set around from 1835 - 1856 around.
I also have some of the variations but would like to find them all.

I am happy to have them in my collection!

Great site!

Joe Rainone