The King of the Snowmen
Welcoming accomplished author Bob Eckstein to WorthPoint…
Ah, Brimfield! The Big Kahuna. The thrice yearly antiques market that springs up from the fields of a Massachusetts farm town, transforming it into a tent city full of…well, everything imaginable. If you can’t find it at Brimfield, there isn’t one for sale anywhere.
New York Times best-selling author, Bob Eckstein, the world’s foremost expert on snowmen.
I was asked by WorthPoint to interview a New York author named Bob Eckstein, who would be at Brimfield, and who is known to be the world’s foremost expert on snowmen. I had a hard time wrapping my head around that one, but that made the assignment more intriguing. How much could one know about snowmen? And what in the world would Mr. Eckstein be doing at the world’s most famous antiques flea market?
By early afternoon, I had traversed my seventh hot and dusty farm field, in search of Bob, who I was told had a booth set up at May’s market. Sure enough, there amongst the tents and tables of brass andirons and Victorian armoires, was a booth with vintage Christmas lawn ornaments, holiday nostalgia, and yes, snowmen!
I introduced myself to Bob, and my first impression was that I was in the presence of someone who knew and appreciated the arts.
“How much could one know about snowmen?” Well, within five minutes of talking with Bob about his book The Illustrated History of the Snowman, I knew there was plenty to know.
The History of the Snowman, 2018 Pequot Globe publishers.
The book chronicles not so much the snowman itself, but rather man’s relationship to it throughout history. No one could ever know who the first person was to wander out into the snow and roll it into balls to form a snowman. But Bob’s research has detailed the earliest recorded references to, the first visual depictions of, and the first recorded photographs of snowmen. Some of the early photos are just amazing.
These are photos of great historical and political interest, with snowman connections that I would never have considered before. Each chapter presents a different snowman “genre.” In terms of advertising, Bob says “The snowman was the first real ‘pitch man’ in America, which is evident in the numerous antique advertising pieces, post cards, and figurines you can find depicting a friendly exuberant snowman.”
It may have something to do with the fact that when it snows, it snows on everyone. And to make a snowman, whether you’re rich or poor, you can walk out into the snow with your creativity and imagination, and make a snowman. A snowman’s intrinsic “universality” makes a snowman a great messenger to sell a product to anyone, or for political messaging.
Snowman in a political cartoon from Bob Eckstein’s 200 page hardcover book The History of the Snowman.
The book is amazingly readable, and each page brings you something unique and interesting. I can’t recommend it enough!
In terms of snowmen as collectibles, I asked Bob if “snowmen collecting” was a legitimate hobby. He said, in so many words, that snowmen collecting wouldn’t be considered a collectibles category on its own, but rather a subset of Christmas collectibles, which covers a large swath of the collectibles world.
From Bob Eckstein’s book, a full array of snowmen figurines.
If you type in “snowman” on Ebay, you’ll find 10,000 collectibles related to snowmen at any given time. These range from adverting pieces, fabrics, ornaments, and figurines, to mention only a few. Of greatest interest to Bob however, would be “real photos” from past eras, showing unique snowmen, in social settings.
When I asked what the “upper end” of snowmen figurines would be, Bob said cloth, cotton, or composite antique figurines made in Germany can bring high prices. A snowman as a piece of collectible art would be more valued in Europe, where in his opinion, there is a greater importance and appreciation of true art.
In addition to his snowman book, Bob authored the New York Times best-seller Footnotes from the Greatest Bookstores.
So generally speaking, you won’t be signing in to WorthPoint.com only to find the value of a collectible or antique snowman. We hope that you will also be signing in to WorthPoint to find new and interesting articles on a wide variety of subjects authored by Bob Eckstein. In addition to his snowman book, Bob authored the New York Times best-seller Footnotes from the Greatest Bookstores, as well as cartoons, op-eds, and short stories that have appeared regularly in The New York Times, The New York Daily News, Mad Magazine, Reader’s Digest, and several other places!
I look forward to reading Bob’s future works. I found speaking with him at Brimfield a pleasure for a personal reason. After having wandered through several hundred booths of vendors ready to peddle their wares, and haggle with you on the price (i.e. value), it was refreshing to speak with someone who I could tell felt a sincere passion for what he had on the tables at his booth. We chatted a bit about writing as a profession, art in the world, and the craziness around us at Brimfield that day.
In a world increasingly full of writers who will write anything to increase their “click count,” I enjoyed meeting a professional writer who can take a piece of our lives, a snowman, shine a light on it, and make it interesting and meaningful. Each snowman ever made was different from the next, and each depicted a unique individual, which is fitting, because that’s exactly who I met last week at Brimfield. If you would like to meet Bob yourself, he will be headlining The Milford Readers and Writers Festival on Sept. 30, 2018. in Milford, Pennsylvania.
Welcome to WorthPoint, Bob Eckstein!
Bram Hepburn collects 19th-century New England bottles and glass, having spent the last 30 years digging and diving for bottles in New England and upstate New York. He has just founded an estate liquidation company and auction house, Hepburn and Co. Antiques in Eliot, Maine. You can send an email to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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