CINCINNATI -- The 40-year career of nationally known vintage poster collector Michael Hodesh of Pleasant Ridge is winding down, but he's giving fans of Americana collectibles two chances in the coming days to buy into his passion.
Almost 600 lots of what's left of Hodesh's formerly massive collection of ephemera -- which is defined as things made to be enjoyed temporarily -- are up for auction until 7:45 p.m. Sunday on the Cincinnati-based website Everything But the House. Then, next weekend, Hodesh will man a booth -- as he has for the past 15 years -- at the Cincinnati 20th Century show at Sharonville Convention Center.
EBTH catalog manager Teresa Newberry said potential bidders will have two chances to view the 594 auction lots at Hodesh's Ridge Road warehouse: from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 18, when EBTH hosts its preview; and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 19, when Hodesh plays host.
What collectors will see is a carefully curated collection of mostly original items that include vintage advertisements, print blocks, product labels, tobacco memorabilia, paintings, lighting, books, postcards, sculptures -- one is a 6-foot 2-inch wooden giraffe -- and, of course, lithographic posters.
Among the unframed, professionally preserved posters are advertisements of regional consumer product brands such as Partridge meats, Amoco gas, Mazola corn oil, Nickles bread and Cloverdale mineral water. There's even a rare, 40-inch by 30-inch Hamilton County Fair poster printed by Cincinnati's Donaldson Lithograph Co. in 1894 and an original 1955 tear-off wall calendar featuring Marilyn Monroe in her famous "Golden Dreams" pose that has received hot early bidding action. (Those who underbid for the calendar have five other Monroe lots to turn to.)
Shopping in the warehouse could be overwhelming, but Newberry said "We'll help people find what they want to look at."
Hodesh said EBTH, whose auction description describes him as a "consummate bohemian" has helped "whittle down" his stuff by selling off a few hundred vintage posters over the past several years through their mid-century themed auctions. But Hodesh's current lots merited their own auction. His biggest online sale ever will leave Hodesh uncluttered for the first time in decades.
"I'm 70, and what the hell ... I want to lighten my load. I want to enjoy my time," Hodesh said. When the EBTH auction ends, he said, "That's it. I've decided to take it easy."
He said he plans to "keep a mini gallery with stuff I personally like and kind of have a general store with art and enough room for a couple of people to come to and hang out."
Hodesh has traveled the world buying and selling posters for 40 years, often with other Cincinnati dealers and collectors he met in the 1960s, including Mike Williams, co-owner of Wooden Nickel Antiques in Over-the-Rhine who said he and Hodesh were among Cincinnati's "early hippies."
"We became like a family," Hodesh said.
He said he's not sure if he'll take part in another 20th Century Cincinnati show after next weekend's. Those who visit him at the Sharonville event likely won't see the stacks of large, linen-backed posters he has brought to the show for the past 15 years. He said he plans to display an inventory of creative pieces such as garden art and porcelain bowls arranged in the shape of a bouquet.
Show producer Bruce Metzger said having Hodesh at his shows has been a boon because of the expertise and entertainment he provides.
"He was one of the biggest poster dealers in the country for a while," Metzger said, and he always grew a crowd around the tables on which he stacked his posters.
"He'd stand there and flip through them and talk about each one and answer people's questions. It was always a hoot to see this audience watching his performance," Metzger said.
Newberry, who has worked at EBTH since 2008, said the Hodesh auction is "important to Cincinnati because he's such a well-known figure in the area of original advertising art, posters and ephemera. He's a wealth of knowledge."
Newberry said Hodesh got in on the vintage poster scene early and helped set the standards for future collecting.
The idea of the sale, she said, is for Hodesh "to downsize considerably. He'll continue to buy and sell ephemera, I think, but he just had to downsize."
Auction and show info
Bidding is under way on EBTH. Newcomers must register before bidding. All lots except those with heated competition end at 7:45 p.m. Hodesh's warehouse is at 6106 Ridge Road in Pleasant Ridge.
The Cincinnati 20th Century show is 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Feb. 25 and 26 at 11355 Chester Road, Sharonville. Admission is $8 for both days.