My Not-So-Secret Obsession

I am addicted to paper, ESPECIALLY antique paper; prints, postcards, scrap, trade cards, valentines, etc.

I remember when it started. I was in grad school for five years (hey, as a single parent of two, and teaching full time, I needed every BIT of the five years to do it!) and was researching and writing my thesis on the role of women in the American Craft Movement. Quilts, Tiffany's girls who put together the stained glass lamps, floor cloths, method paintings, needlework, and more. Then I discovered Ester Howland,who in the 1850's started her own business making handmade valentines. As I read about how women enlisted their families to run their own home business making such cards for extra money, ideas began to percolate. It was the handmade Valentines that inspired me to start making my own handmade cards, WAY before it was fashionable to do so.

My early cards used vintage marbled paper and images from art books. But as I studied copyright law and explored my options, I began to use images that were in the public domain, which meant art deco and earlier.

I have gone to auctions, combed antique stores, shopped on ebay, and like today, attend trade shows for paper. Today was the show put on by the local postcard club.

My finds? Oh postcards and paper for my cards, usually the cheap ones that are damaged and not worth any value as a collectible. But I still hunt for the great deal and treasure in these shows. It is exciting.

But then there are the treasures: one I believe to be an early 1870's handmade valentine, one of the early ones made by the Whitney company. How did I know that? Research, the tell-tale W in red with a number, and tracking down the date of the stamp on the envelope. Normally it is RARE to find an envelope with the cards, and I got lucky.

The other? An 1880's saleman's book for the Hooker Nursery, in Rochester, NY. It is FILLED with fabulous antique chromolithograph prints of flowers, shrubs, trees, and fruits.

I am not sure what I am going to do with my finds. As always I need money. I guess I am going to list the card on ebay and hope that a museum or collector will find it and give it the home it deserves. The prints are amazing, and I scanned a few and will post them and see how they go. These are too fabulous to use in my art.

Tonight's postcards I thought fit for the upcoming election. I am on pins and needles, like so many others. PEACE. HOPE. Couldn't find one for VICTORY, so I will settle for the other two. Oh and these postcards can be found in my ETSY shop, Catskillpaper.

Patti O Collector


How absolutely amazing to be amongst things from the 1800s! A valentine from back then! I'm assuming it wasn't filled out. I would love to see a valentine that was meant for one set of eyes from back then. Can you imagine? It sounds as though you were around some pretty awe inspiring beings today (pulp, paper, prints, etc). All from our tree friends. Serious treasures. And the cards you make are gorgeous!
annie kelleher said…
they are so pretty! what beautiful cards :)!
maya'smind said…
Hey, do you still have that thesis you wrote? I'm writing mine on the current neo-craft movement, which of course doesn't make too much sense without referencing both arts and crafts and the DIY movement of the 60s. I'd love to find something specifically on women's roles.
P.A. GIbbons said…
Maya; I will look to see where I shoved that book that I wrote! I have a few books whose names I can send to you that are very good reference guides...send me your email however as I could not access you through blogspot! patti
maya'smind said…
hi patti, thanks a bunch. my email is

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