Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I have a paper obsession for those of you who don't already know it. Antique paper, art paper, handmade paper.

Over the years the antique paper has become hard to find and more expensive, thanks to Ebay for one. What I used to be able to pick up for next to nothing at an auction or junk shop, now commands some high prices, out of this artist's reach. What was once considered junk is now highly sought after by collectors and artists such as myself.

I have kept my paper shopping to a minimum, working with the inventory that I have.But I am out of my holiday images, and I have at least one show this fall, so I was forced to attend my local Postcard and Paper how in our little city.

Twice a year the show is held mid town, and over the years I have come to know some of the vendors. One vendor, Christine, is alwasy excited to show me things that she thinks I might use in my work, AND, she is reasonable in price. I love to sit for hours and pour through the postcards and ephemera, choosing items that I can use in my work, or that I can sell to other artists and collectors to help keep my business afloat.

Sunday, along with the postcards and other paper that I found, I stumbled upon two treasures.

Today's photos are of an early handmade Valentine card by Whitney, dating to the 1870's. It took me a while to do the research to confirm this, as I had to verify it was a Whitney, and with the use of a loop and some investigation, date the stamp used on the envelope. (FYI-it is rare to find an envelope with any of these cards, which was a big help in the date identification.) I have indeed listed it on ebay as I could use to make a bit of money to replace the money I spent at the show, and I do want this card to go to someone who will give it the home it deserves. Aside from making some money (and sometimes not---the time it takes to list on ebay and the fees often makes my profit very marginal) I often have sold rare items to museums and collectors. My biggest find was three pieces of Early American paper weaving that grossed me 850.00! The money was spent on an art class which was some distance from me, as well as a room for the weekend there!

When I was doing my master's thesis on the role of women in American Craft, I learned how women made handmade cards to make some extra money, employing their entire family to help. Once such woman, Ester Howland, started such a business in the 1850's. By the 1880's, she was making over $100,000 in sales, and eventually sold the company she has built to the Mr. Whitney. This card was probably made by Whitney before he bought Howland's company, but it was certainly inspired by her fine work. Even their way of stamping the cards is almost the same, save for hers was stamped w/an H, and his with a W.

These cards made by women and their families inspired the cards that I started making some 15 years ago, and still make today. Over the 15 years my style has morphed several times, and I still get excited when I develop a new style or way to use the materials I have.

Next post will be about my second find...


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