Steven Lomazow, M.D. is a neurologist practicing in New Jersey. He has been collecting American periodicals and other paper memorabilia for over thirty years and has written extensively on the subject. He is a member of the American Antiquarian Society, consultant to the Newseum in Washington, and is presently co-authoring a book about new discoveries in the health of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Steve took time out of his busy schedule to tell me about his magazine collection.
ephemera: How did you become interested in old magazines?
Lomazow: My interest in collecting magazines dovetails with an interest in the history of American popular culture. I started in this area while in medical school in Chicago. Initially, my goal was to get the first issue of every major American magazine. This branched out into collecting any first issue or first volume I could find and, eventually, anything important ever published in an American magazine.
My interest was initiated when I walked into the now long-defunct Acme Bookstore on Clark Street in Chicago. I came in looking for antiquarian medical books--I bought a beautiful atlas--and saw the first issue of Life and Look. The February 1937 Look issue has Herman Goering on the cover and when I looked inside it said "volume 1 number 2", despite ample documentation that it was indeed the "first issue". When I inquired of the proprietor--a thin man named Roy--about what happened to "volume 1 number 1" said he didn't know. I was hooked. It took fifteen years to find the answer. It was a larger, very fragile issue, essentially a "dummy" mocked up for internal use of the publisher in Des Moines, Iowa. My then "holy grail". I obtained one at great expense in the late eighties and have only seen (and owned) one other of this truly ephemeral magazine.
ephemera: That's a great story. It sums up, I think, what makes collectors tick—the passion, curiosity, thirst for knowledge, and mystery of ephemera. Tell me about the challenges you encounter as you pursue items for your collection.
Lowazow: As many collectors, I started with stamps and coins. When this became inevitably stalemated due to increasing expense and lack of interesting material, I came upon magazines, which are inexpensive, unlimited and uncatalogued. Instead of filling the spaces in empty album pages, I made my own "albums"- A far more interesting, instructive and creative pursuit. My greatest challenge is keeping focused on my primary interest and not diluting my resources in other areas. The internet has been a great supplement to attending book and paper fairs. It is still quite possible to get a "collector's high" from an item that costs only a few dollars. For example, I am very excited about an extremely rare1927 humor magazine I just obtained for under thirty dollars.
ephemera: Among the magazines in your collection, which are your favorite?
Lowazow: I have so many favorites it's hard to choose. My latest passion is trying to obtain the first issue of every pulp magazine ever published. The universe of pulps is about a thousand titles, and currently, I'm less than one hundred and seventy five short of my goal. It is doubtful I'll ever get much closer but it's a lot of fun trying. I talk a lot about many other of my favorites on my blog.
ephemera: That's a great quest. You'll have to send us a line as you get closer to the goal. It'd be fascinating to hear of the final 100 or 50 or 10 that you're seeking. Speaking of quests, what resources do you recommend for people interested in collecting old magazines?
Lowazow: Good resources about collecting magazines are very sparse. The union list of serials and the five volume history by Frank Luther Mott are a starting point but only just that. Dealers like Richard West of Periodyssey in Northampton, Massachusetts can be quite helpful. Internet search engines are probably the best overall. Of course my book, American Periodicals: A Collector's Manual and Reference Guide, written in 1996, is the single most comprehensive tome on the subject. I've also put together a catalog of the acquisitions I've made in the last ten years as a supplement.
ephemera: Thank you, Steven.
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