Sunday, March 13, 2011

New Bookcases Full of WILD WEST WEEKLYs

My family is visiting this weekend so I don't have much time to post. We're going to the William Hart house later today - I'm sure my family will love it.

In the meantime, I wanted to show off my new bookcases that I was talking about last week. The middle bookcase and the one on the right are filled with WILD WEST WEEKLYs and other books and pulps written by my grandfather.

I posted this photo on Facebook a few days ago and it produced a firestorm of comments on whether the pulps should be stored vertically or horizontally. I prefer to store them vertically because it makes them easier to find when I want to pull out a specific issue. They are all stored in the mylite archival bags which are pretty sturdy and they are very tight, so the pulps can't slip in the case.

Of course, you are welcome to chime in and add your comments to the debate.

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32 comments:

David Cranmer said...

I store them both ways but, darn, you have an impressive collection, Laurie. I could spend weeks visiting.

Deka Black said...

Mmmmm i am with the vertical thing. Is easier to pick issues. What a collection, is wonderful!

Deka Black said...

I almost forgot: if i were in front of the bookcases, you coukd see blonde bearded man trying to keep his eyes in the sockets.

Ron Scheer said...

Most impressive. I would store them in a fire-proof safe and take out only one at a time.

Ed Hulse said...

I'm a big believer in double-ply, acid-free backing boards, which additionally stiffen the pulp and make it easier to handle when pulling off the shelf. Ernie Gerber sells acid-free boards that have a calcium carbonate layer, which maintains the magazine's pH level by absorbing whatever gases the paper might still emit. (Although I'm one of those who believes the most decay occurs within 50 years, so that our pulps won't deteriorate further as long as they're properly stored -- i.e., cool, dry, and free from exposure to direct sunlight.)

Most old-school collectors like Walker don't use bags and stack their pulps horizontally. But if the Library of Congress and other major archives consider Mylar bags to be appropriate protection for old paper, that's enough of a recommendation for me.

Cap'n Bob said...

Impressive. Between you and Rick R I'm having some serious shelf envy.

Evan Lewis said...

Just plain gorgeous.

Walker Martin said...

This is a topic that never fails to generate comment. As Ed mentions, I store pulps in stacks in chronological order without bags. I've been doing it this way for decades and never noticed any significant deterioration.

Since I have alot of magazines and I actually read the things, it's alot easier for me to store this way since I'm always looking through them etc.

Many collectors store them like Laurie but it would drive me crazy to keep opening and fooling around with bags. I guess it's ok if your pulp collecting is within sane limits, like a few hundred issues.
But once you start accumulating complete sets of titles, then the stack system is better. For instance SHORT STORIES and POPULAR MAGAZINE came out twice a month, so a stack of 24 issues would be an individual year. I would not recommend stacking over 24 however.

Bags are better nowadays, but I remember when they first came out, many collectors found out to their dismay that the acidity of the paper made the magazines browner and more brittle over time.

Every collector is different, but if you file vertical then bags and backing boards are a must or else the pulps will bend or be damaged when you pull them out. However, I've always liked the stacking method.

Always keep pulps out of direct sunlight, never store in an attic or hot room, and keep them out of the basement because of humidity problems. Since I have so many books and magazines, I've had to ignore my basement advice, but I do have a dehumidifier. Another thing, I've noticed pulps have some sort of sexual life and somehow reproduce. In a few years Laurie will notice that they have increased in number and no longer will fit in the bookcases or as in my case, no longer fit inside a large house.

Ed mention "old-school collectors". I've been wondering what does that term mean? I guess it means the type of collector that used to be common but is not too common anymore. You know, the bibliomaniac who doesn't just have a few pulps but has thousands and is always trying to collect complete sets of titles, even if they number hundreds of issues, or over a thousand like WESTERN STORY, DETECITVE STORY, ARGOSY.

Well, I better stop, I think I hear some reproducing going on among the pulps and I have to stop them since I've run out of room...

Barry Traylor said...

Interesting that Walker should mention about his pulps reproducing. I always thought it was just a story I told my wife to expain why my pulp collection kept expanding. Then I realized it was true, so I decided to keep my Weird Menace pulps away from my other pulps.

Ed Hulse said...

Actually, I associate the term "old-school collector" with storage issues and almost exclusively use it to describe guys like you, Walker.

The widespread use of bags and backing boards to preserve magazines printed on acidic paper didn't begin until 1970 or thereabouts, and it was occasioned by the rapid escalation in prices of vintage comic books. After that mid '60s auction in which a copy of ACTION COMICS #1 sold for a record-breaking $100, comic dealers and fans began realizing that their funny books were bonafide collectibles, and that's when people gradually started using bags for them. I can remember going to comic conventions as late as 1968 and still rummaging through stacks of unbagged Golden Age comics that dealers had tossed into cardboard boxes for exhibition at the show. After 1970, once the first Overstreet Comic Price Guide had been published, you didn't see that anymore.

But pulp people at that time -- at least, most of them -- were still blithely unconcerned about condition, and Walker has told me about early Pulpcons where dealers would load their tables with stacks of unbagged pulps, and where the floors were littered with pulp chips by the end of every day. As late as three years ago, at the final Pulpcon, "old-school" SF fan and dealer Rusty Hevelin was still bringing unbagged pulps stacked horizontally in cardboard boxes. Anybody who was collecting pulps back in 1970 was paying a dollar or two each for the more common stuff. (If you look at mid '70s issues of XENOPHILE, you'll see in letters and opinion articles how much pulp collectors dreaded the prospect of a pulp price guide, which they believed would cause rampant price escalation, as Overstreet caused among comic collectors.) Those are the guys I describe as old-school collectors. It was the younger generation -- guys my age and less -- who made widespread the use of bags and boards in storing pulps. That's because many of us migrated to pulp collecting from comic collecting.

Also, the first-generation pulp collectors -- the guys who eventually turned pulp collecting into an organized hobby -- had grown up with the magazines and probably still, in the backs of their minds, thought of them as they were intended to be: disposable products, cheaply made for casual reading and not worth preserving in good condition.

Richard R. said...

Nothing like a picture of a few bookcases, especially one filled with collectable items like fine old pulps, to bring out lots of comments. First, nice shelves you’ve got there, Laurie. I do hope you have them strapped to the wall. Second, really nice collection of pulps, based on what little I can see of them. You have a lot and no doubt will be adding to them in a few weeks at Windy City.

As for the shelving conversation, not owning any pulps, all I can bring to it is my experience with comics. I had all my comics in bags w/ boards, in long boxes. Some collectors now have the items graded, then sealed up. Let’s hope that doesn’t start happening with pulps!

I believe if I had pulps I’d follow Walker’s method of stacking them, it just seems gravity will be kinder to them in the long run. I also understand the idea of wanting them accessible without opening bags and extracting the contents. It was a pain in the neck with my comics and would be with the pulps. I wonder, Walker, if you wear cotton gloves, or always wash your hands before handling your items? I knew a lot of white cotton glove types when I had comics (I got rid of them all in 2004, to make space, and honestly haven’t missed them).

I think of “old school” collectors pretty much the same as “old school” car guys. The like to fix ‘em up, make ‘em nice, but they drive them. No trailer queens for them. So if the pulps don’t come out to play now and then, what good are they?

Walker Martin said...

Ed mentions first generation collectors who actually bought the pulps off the newstands. Not too many left except for a few like Jack Irwin, Al Tonik, Rusty Hevelin. Some of the old timers were rough on their pulps. I remember Lester Belcher who had a complete set of WILD WEST WEEKLY, asking me for my address. There was nothing to write on, so he casually pulled a rolled up copy of OPERATOR 5 out of his back pocket and scribbled my name and address on the back cover.

Richard brings up a point about pulps are meant to be read. If I can't read them, then I sell them. But there are alot of collectors who do not read them. They collect them and bag them, but don't read. I simply do not understand this type of collector at all.

Ed Hulse said...

I must say, I've always found absurd the notion that buying high-grade pulps and storing them carefully is somehow incompatible with handling, reading and enjoying them. More than once I've heard or read pulp fans claim, "I don't want to own high-grade copies because I'd be afraid to read them." If I ever feel I need to wear white gloves to handle my pulps, I'll sell every last one and get out of the hobby.

It's not a bad idea to wash one's hands before fondling high-grade pulps, but other than that I don't take any precautions that common sense wouldn't dictate. For example, it's not advisable to read pulps while eating an ice cream cone. I trust that's not exactly a news flash for readers of Laurie's Wild West.

Personally, I think the eccentric collectors are those who prefer to buy low-grade copies for reading purposes. Handling decomposing pulps is likely to hasten their demise: covers fall off, short tears become longer tears, brittle page corners snap off when you turn them, and brown flakes fall like confetti with even minor shaking. Even one reading of a fragile copy is likely to result in severe degredation or even destruction.

I read my top-condition pulps constantly, and I can assure you none of them is the worse for wear. And I don't think it's a hardship to slip them in and out of Mylar bags.

Laurie Powers said...

Lots of great comments here. I'm afraid I'm still one of those who will store them in Mylar bags, even these old WILD WEST WEEKLYs, because they are priceless to my family. I kind of like the look of them anyway.

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Lee Shin said...

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Anonymous said...

Does anyone on here remember a Lester Belcher from Saltville, Virginia? If so please post a comment so I can ask you a question about his collection, He is my Uncle.

Austin Stanley said...

Does anyone on here remember a Lester Belcher from Saltville, Virginia? If so please post a comment so I can ask you a question about his collection, I am trying to locate anything from his collection & I've only found two books from his entire collection. He is my Uncle so if you have any information please comment.

Austin Stanley said...

Mr. Walker Martin, I saw where you said something about Lester Belcher from Saltville, Virginia? If so please comment so I can ask you a question about his collection, I am trying to locate anything from his collection & I've only found two books from his entire collection. He is my Uncle so if you have any information please comment.

Laurie Powers said...

Hi Austin - sorry that you had to post this a few times - I missed the earlier comments. I will send your question to Walker and see if he can respond.

Walker Martin said...

Hi Austin. I was friends with Lester Belcher and used to see him at every Pulpcon during the 1970's and 1980's. He always was with his wife and they really enjoyed the interaction with other collectors. I remember Lester and his wife once singing some songs influenced by the cowboy and mountain culture, etc.

When his wife died, Lester continued to come to Pulpcon but he was very depressed and lonely. I remember he died a few years after her death. He loved WILD WEST WEEKLY and had a set of the pulp issues, 1927-1943. He also was a collector of the dime novel issues issued before 1927.

After Lester's death, we all wondered what had happened to his pulp magazines but we figured the family had them, etc. This was all prior to the internet however, and many families were not aware that the old magazines were worth money. So many were thrown away.

I still miss Lester. He was a nice friendly man and it's a shame that he and his wife are no longer with us.

Barry Traylor said...

I was introduced to Lester and his wife by Rick Minter and I agree that Lester and his wife were good people.

Austin Stanley said...

Thank you Walker & Barry! His daughter Lana sold them to Adventure Housenrannby John Gunnison & after a week of searching John found me two of my Uncle Dutchie's Books. April 24, 1943: Blacky Solone * Flash Morgan * & Senor Red Mask.
November 1943: Hog Legs For Range Hogs & the Fightin' Three, Oklahoma Kid, etc. He also played a great guitar with his wife; Mary Ruth & His mother; Etta; my greay great granny; Their group was called The Belcher Family & they made an album Called "The Belcher Family sings No Graveyards in the Skies" in 1975. He also was a great painter I have several of his paintings! He also did 5 or 6 for the pulp vault magazine in the late 1980's/ Early 1990's. Pulp vault 2 & 5 if I'm not mistaken. I just recently bought Wild West Weekly Nov. 12, 1938 because that is one of the covers he painted & it a long with The Shadow are my favorite pictures of Pulp Characters he painted. But if you happen to know where i could locate anything from his collection or pulp vaults 2 & 5 please let me know! Thanks, Austin Stanley. By the way you can find me on face book I; its an old picture; have brown hair that's kinda long & my picture on the wall is not Mary Ruth, Etta, Dopey, & Dutchie playing music. I think I may have sent Laurie a friend request.

Austin Stanley said...

Thank you Walker & Barry! His daughter Lana sold them to Adventure Housenrannby John Gunnison & after a week of searching John found me two of my Uncle Dutchie's Books. April 24, 1943: Blacky Solone * Flash Morgan * & Senor Red Mask.
November 1943: Hog Legs For Range Hogs & the Fightin' Three, Oklahoma Kid, etc. He also played a great guitar with his wife; Mary Ruth & His mother; Etta; my greay great granny; Their group was called The Belcher Family & they made an album Called "The Belcher Family sings No Graveyards in the Skies" in 1975. He also was a great painter I have several of his paintings! He also did 5 or 6 for the pulp vault magazine in the late 1980's/ Early 1990's. Pulp vault 2 & 5 if I'm not mistaken. I just recently bought Wild West Weekly Nov. 12, 1938 because that is one of the covers he painted & it a long with The Shadow are my favorite pictures of Pulp Characters he painted. But if you happen to know where i could locate anything from his collection or pulp vaults 2 & 5 please let me know! Thanks, Austin Stanley. By the way you can find me on face book I; its an old picture; have brown hair that's kinda long & my picture on the wall is Mary Ruth, Etta, Dopey, & Dutchie playing music. I think I may have sent Laurie a friend request.

Austin Stanley said...

I would like to know how I could go on collecting these particular pulps because I would like to have a collection as large as my uncle Dutchie's.

Laurie Powers said...

Austin I didn't see your friend request on Facebook. There are a lot of Laurie Powers's. I just changed my profile picture to a yellow LOVE STORY cover - that should help you find me.

Austin Stanley said...

Laurie I pressed the follow button.

Austin Stanley said...

How does one go about signing up for Pulp Con?

Laurie Powers said...

Austin, PulpCon stopped running several years ago, but there's a new conference that has taken its place - Pulp Fest. This year it's from August 7 - 10. You can go to www.pulpfest.com to get all the info. Hope to see you there - let us know if you're coming!

Austin Stanley said...

Do they sell Pulps & pulp memorabilia?

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