Paper Trail 

If it's collectible and on paper, you'll probably find it at Concord's Vintage Paper Fair.

Paper. Think of how many necessary, memorable, frivolous things in your everyday life are printed on it, even in this e-age. "You can trace just about any field of human endeavor in paper," says Hal Lutsky. He ought to know. Lutsky is the organizer of this weekend's Vintage Paper Fair in Concord, the latest in a series of collectors' events established in the Bay Area for nearly thirty years, featuring antique -- or in some cases merely old -- photos, magazines, postcards, stereoviews, Victoriana, trade cards and other advertisements, brochures, labels, menus, transportation memorabilia, etc., purveyed from some one hundred booths.

The San Francisco-based Lutsky ("I've been a dealer for twelve years, and took over the Concord show three years ago") doesn't do comic books or paper money "currency." And movie memorabilia fans might find the selection a bit limited. But postcards are something else. "We like postcards," he proclaims. "They're easier to handle. And there's a tremendous variety. Condition is important, but rarity is at least as big. One of my favorites is a trade card [a cardboard handbill form of advertising] from the 1880s from Rockaway Beach, New York, showing two boys: a sickly one who doesn't play outside, and a healthy one who, naturally, goes to Rockaway Beach."

Advertising not your thing? There are Civil War items, made before the era of mass production, and Victorian Christmas cards at surprisingly low prices. ("You can get a hundred-year-old Christmas card for $2, unused. I see reproductions going for as much as originals.") For Lutsky, the first rule of collecting is to treat it as a form of recreation rather than as an investment. "Postcards have really gone up in the last several years," he says. "Things that were $2-$3 in the '70s are now $40-$50. But it really should be a hobby, not a hedge against inflation. Speculators ruin it, as in the case of coins about 1990."

The Vintage Paper Fair takes place Saturday and Sunday at Centre Concord, 5298 Clayton Rd. (near Ygnacio Valley Rd.). Admission is $5 Saturday, free on Sunday. For further information, visit VintagePaper-Fair.com

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