In honor of, premiering on PBS Sunday, September 9, 2012 at 8/7C, John Bruno shares his thoughts on collecting from the Great White Way:
I’ve been a collector for more than fifty years, and through that time my interests have run the gamut of antiques and collectibles, from pottery to glassware to lighting to furniture to vintage clothing to housewares and more. But one aspect of my collecting has remained constant – ephemera. "Ephemera" is the term used for paper items made for one-time or short-term use. Ephemera can be added to, included in, or used as an adjunct for virtually any collection. A vintage car collector's ephemera might include auto manuals and ads, while aviation collector would seek out travel posters. Because I’m an inveterate New Yorker, finding Broadway ephemera is one of my passions, both as a cross-collectible with my other interests, and as a stand-alone collection.
But Broadway is not just a New York City experience – the influence of and interest in Broadway (and Off-Broadway) theater stretches across the country and indeed, the world. And for the ephemera collector, this is a wonderland, since the overwhelming majority of Broadway related memorabilia is ephemera. I’ve found a number of Broadway items in the Midwest and the South! A few years ago, my wife Tina and I were visiting an antique show in Virginia, and stumbled across a framed lobby poster for the show “City of Angels,” which she and I saw in New York when we first started dating. The asking price was $95 and, after a little negotiating, we were able to buy it for a tidy reduction – it now hangs in our family room and brings a smile to both our faces every day!
The field of ephemera is quite broad, as is the range of Broadway related items. We recently found a decommissioned New York City Subway sign from the Broadway & 42nd Street station.
It now hangs over the windows in my office – obscure yes, but it fits my Broadway collection as well as my hometown collection – Brooklyn!