In the process of writing the cover story for this issue, I spoke to a few different people well versed on the topic, Western ephemera. In addition to their immense knowledge of the subject, what stayed with me since I spoke with them are the personal connections to this history-rich category of collecting they described. Each of them comes at it from a slightly different angle, although all share a common appreciation and dedication to continually expanding their knowledge of the topic of Western ephemera.
Fred Holabird founder of Holabird’s Western Americana shared stories about the actual dig and discovery of mineral ore specimens of the Western region, while Tom Slater, director of Americana auctions for Heritage Auctions, referenced his own youthful days spent watching westerns and cowboy flicks, immersed in the rugged-and-respectable world of lawmen, ranchers and outlaws. Finally, there’s Rob Kastner, founder of Wild West Auctions of Wyoming. When asked how he would describe the Western spirit, he referenced lyrics in a song made famous by the late Chris LeDoux, bronze sculptor, rodeo champion and country music singer-songwriter.
“To quote the late, great Chris LeDoux: ‘Sit tall in the saddle, hold your head up high, Keep your eyes fixed where the trail meets the sky, And live like you ain’t afraid to die. And don’t be scared, just enjoy your ride.’ ”
I find that gem to be good advice, regardless of the topic at hand. The point being, the practice of collecting Western ephemera or anything, is truly about connecting with a topic and items that resonate with you. It is one of the best investments you can make, because you’re investing in your own happiness.
In keeping with the theme of inspiration for living life to the fullest, and experiencing as many unique adventures as we can, I encourage you to read Melanie C. Thomas' latest The Buck Stops Here column. She shares stories of some of her favorite/most memorable customers and the impact their visits to her Gettysburg shop have had. As you read it, I have no doubt you will find yourself reminiscing about that “stranger” who crossed your path and had a life-affirming impact on how you meet the world every day.
For Print Editor Karen Knapstein and I, those moments and opportunities are truly plentiful. They present themselves in the emails, calls and letters we receive from you, our Antique Trader readers. Your stories of found treasures, inquiries about identity and value of items or events happening within the collecting community, suggestions for topics you’d like to learn more about and critiques of what you see in the pages of this magazine and our online venues, are all valuable experiences. For all intents and purposes, we may all be on this journey of life on our own, but it’s the people we meet along the way that make the path what it is.
Have a wonderful autumn.