With May to September being prime yard sale time in these parts, I thought it useful to list a few items that can be construed as the Holy Grails of yard sale finds in Manchester. One never knows.
Babe Ruth went to the then minor-league Baltimore Orioles out of a Baltimore industrial school for boys in the spring of 1914. Four months later the Boston Red Sox bought his contract. On August 17, 1914, he pitched a 4-2 exhibition win over a New England League team at Manchester’s Textile Field, now Gill Stadium. Ruth was then sent to the Providence Grays of the International League before being called up to the Red Sox for the proverbial cup of coffee in September. A picture of Ruth at Textile Field in one of first wins for the Red Sox would be unique. It would be a further plus if he’s shown downing a hot dog and a beer.
The first airborne dirigible in New Hampshire didn’t make out so good. On June 28, 1910 pilot E.J. Parker of Rochester, New York crashed the small blimp into one of the wooden roller coasters at Pine Island Amusement Park, off Brown Avenue from 1902 to the 1960s. Parker saved himself by jumping onto the tracks. Here too, a photo would be worth a thousand words. The field the park sat on, adjacent to the Blue Cross building, is still fertile ground for metal detectors and it is said that a piece of wood from the old roller coasters can still be found.
eBay and Etsy are loaded with old Manchester postcards but I couldn’t find one that I know exists: a tinted linen postcard of people swimming in Lake Massabesic. I saw it in the collection of a person that collects Manchester memorabilia 35 years ago. Don’t get any aquatic ideas.
KooKooLand, by Gloria Norris, is a 2016 memoir about growing up in Manchester in the 1950s and ’60s. Toss in an abusive father, how Norris dealt with him, and a double murder and it’s a hard-to-put-down read. eBay has one signed first edition listed for $144. I’m unsure how accurate this value is. Remember: only hardcovers can be first editions. Paperbacks are first printings.
The most expensive book in American literature is Edgar Allan Poe’s Tamerlane and Other Poems and the last copy to be found was in a southern New Hampshire antique store in 1988 in a bin of gardening and tool pamphlets. The asking price was $15. This Tamerlane was valued at $300,000 plus.
There are 12 known copies but the last few discovered have been in the northeast.
What makes this book so valuable? It was Poe’s first book and anywhere from 50 to 250 were published in Boston by Calvin Thomas in 1827, a young man who specialized in printing apothecary labels. He’d never printed a book before but then Poe had never paid a publisher before. When Thomas moved to Philadelphia a year later with still no payment from Poe it is presumed that he destroyed the remaining copies.
With no advertising, marketing or even a good word from its author, Tamerlane died a quick death. Poe’s own love-hate relationship with the work gives the cover the byline “A Bostonian.” It’s unclear as to whether he distributed a few copies are if a small number were sold. The 1st copy wasn’t discovered until 1859.
The 11th Tamerlane found was in New York State. It was brought to Sotheby’s in New York City by armored car and was auctioned for $642,000.
DO NOT send the book by dirigible.