Maybe because I've been a "hunter and a gatherer" for so long, it seems like I don't have to look for paper, it finds me. Most of it comes from auctions, and occasionally estate sales.
But sometimes you have to take the good with the..."not so good". Here's a sample of a box lot from a recent auction. I didn't have a chance to look at the box before the auction because it was under the table, so I bought it after just the glance you can see in the picture above.
I saw "Godey prints" and the Blue Bird notebook and imagined a box full of fashion items, woman's magazines, floral postcards and bird prints.
Well, my imagination might have gotten just a little bit carried away. The box had some fun stuff, like this puppy on the cover of a 1942 Farm Journal.
These 1930's auction catalogs might have some historical significance to collectors of Antique Roadshow worthy painting and furniture.
When I saw that they were from the 1930's my first thought was "Is there a connection between these auctions and the Great Depression?" I think of collecting as a fairly recent activity...after all, you couldn't collect 1930's deco style jewelry until 1930, or baseball cards until the early 1900's. These things had to be made before they were collected, and mass production didn't start until the early 1900's.
But for centuries, there have been collectors of Early American furniture and artwork from the 1600's until the late 19th century. The auction catalog makes me wonder if the auction is the result of hard times during the depression forcing a collector to liquidate their collection.
That's just speculation on my part, but I think that's what I like about old paper. Going through a box makes me think about the everyday details of a period of time, not just the facts we learned in school like who was President.
A blue bird on a grade school notebook. What a nice piece of history. The book was empty, but I Iike the idea of cheery school supplies.
Also in the box- a few bird prints.
...some 1890's almanacs- love those graphics!
These French Folies programs seemed kind of out of place.
...an odd little assortment of pamplets and booklets fromthe 1920's-1950's.
These pictures represent about a third and best of the box lot.
So, my answer to the question "how do you get good old paper?" is "Buy A LOT of old paper, and hope that some of what you get is something you consider good."
Or, you can go to Ebay, Etsy or an antique store and buy just what you like. You'll probably pay more, but you won't have to figure out what to do a 1929 "Michigan Mother's Manual".