A 100-plus year-old tradition of buying and selling old illustrated paper
I began Periodyssey in the pre-internet days of 1993, envisioning it as an old-fashioned antiquarian business built on quarterly catalogs of recently purchased highpoints. It soon became clear that in order to acquire the highpoints, I often had to purchase hundreds of other lesser issues. Then I learned that this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, because people had wants that I couldn’t have possibly anticipated. Who knew this person’s great-grandfather was a regular contributor to Scribner’s Magazine in the 1890s? Who would have thought that someone else was looking for the October 1905 issue of House Beautiful because it featured the early 20th century home that they were currently renovating?
Before 1994 was out, this part-time occupation turned into my full-time employment. Inevitably, space became an issue. In 1995, we moved the business from high-rent Washington, DC, to bucolic Northampton, Massachusetts. In 1996, we purchased the remnants of the venerable J. S. Canner Co., in 1998, the massive stock of Back Number Wilkins, and in 1999, the select high-end stock of Leon Williams. By that time, we had outgrown our Northampton digs and had moved into warehouse space in Eastworks, in nearby Easthampton. By that time as well, I had enlisted my wife, Monica Green, as business manager and had hired Kayt Thompson (then Ehrmann) as office manager. In 2016, we left Eastworks and now work out of my home.
I have found my work of the last two decades to be thrilling. Some of our most exciting acquisitions and sales have included: complete or long runs of The Dial, Harper’s Weekly, Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, the Southern Illustrated News, Puck, the German Puck (the publisher’s set), Judge (the publisher’s set), Ladies’ Home Journal, Vogue, Harper’ Bazaar, Time, The New Yorker, and countless lesser titles. We have handled the rarest Hawthorne, Poe, Twain, Fitzgerald, and Salinger periodical appearances, among many great writers. And we have sold magazines featuring the lovely artwork of Will Bradley, Maxfield Parrish, Harrison Fisher, and Norman Rockwell, to name only the most obvious.
As the antiques market generally and the periodicals market in particular began to soften after the 2008 crash, I diversified my buying habits by buying and selling more and more American historical prints, books with historical views, 19th century cartoon material, and any other graphic that caught my eye. In 2016, we inaugurated the year by acknowledging the diversification of our business through a redesigned website that now features all of the types of paper we sell. I feel honored to be associated with such beautiful and fascinating artifacts of our cultural past and all of us at Periodyssey look forward to the years ahead. Thank you for your business. — Rich West