World’s Columbian Summer Sale 2020

Photos for the Summer Sale

First, I will apologize for what I hope is not too cumbersome a newsletter and sale for you. As you can imagine, utilizing a designer/expert online for a newsletter and photos of nearly 70 items (tickets, medals, 3D objects and paper items) is not feasible for me to do repeatedly—unless I want to become a charity rather than a historical company intending to generate little profit.

We—my partner Christine (wife and colleague for—oh my gosh—47 years!)-—have produced more than 200 books and I have no idea how many newsletters, brochures and other peripheral documents, not to mention the ten books (and more coming soon) we have written. For many years, we had a small and wonderful staff of six people. Twenty years ago Christine and I sold our building and began working in a 500-sq-ft office at home, with design and publishing experts as freelance staff. That means when the project is a book or website, those experts we have known and worked with for decades ensure the products are professional and first-rate. But in a two-person company, newsletters, sales pieces, and blogs are my responsibility. And while I am a writer, researcher and historian, not to mention appraiser, cataloguer and seller of Columbiana and other historical material, you will not find the words designer or internet expert in my job description.

All this is an awkward and lengthy preface to my decision to post here the photographs of items for sale in the Summer 2020 newsletter. The newsletter itself will be sent via email to our Columbian Expo mailing list, but despite my lack of website design expertise, the photographs themselves—given their size and resolution—seemed more apt for presentation here.

If you’re reading this text and viewing the photos but have NOT received the newsletter, please accept my apology. Email me at or phone me any time at (425) 481-8818 and we will ensure you receive the newsletter promptly.

Though the photographs themselves may not do them justice, the items in our Summer 2020 Sale are indeed beautiful. We have several one-of-a-kind tickets and medals from the World’s Columbian Expo as well as many other items that are not only unique, but also, quite rare. The vast majority of the material in the sale is from the John Kennel Columbian Collection, which we have been cataloging and selling since April 2019. John, who passed away about six years ago, and his business partner and spouse, Heike, collected and sold for around forty years, and I was fortunate enough to work with them for nearly half of that tenure. John and Heike accrued more than 4,000 items, which we transported from Dayton, OH and have handled as if they were our own. It has been a sincere pleasure to work with and share the amazing quality of tickets, medals and other items with today’s collectors, especially a new generation of them.

Having had Heike Kennel entrust me with John’s collection last year has meant I have been incredibly busy inventorying, cataloging, and selling a collection that, while not the largest, was assembled by its owner with a love for the fair and a skill in finding and acquiring an impressively large number of rarities and one-of-a-kind pieces. The collection has led me to more study and more writing about the exposition, which includes working on a book for Columbian collectors and students of its history. I’m excited that John’s collection will form the backbone of my third book about the fair. As I sandwich in research and other tasks on the book project between all those projects that already take a normal work week, I have at least 10,000 photos (historical from my two previous Columbian histories and those I’ve taken of items John and I collected) to organize, including medals (I think John had at least 1,000!), tickets (he had more rarities than any collector I know of, myself included), books and 3D souvenirs from the fair.

When I worked with John and other collectors and dealers who began their lifelong adventure with the Columbian Expo in the 1960s, I felt like the new, young kid on the block. As it turned out, I wasn’t all that young, just a novice when I began with Columbian material in 1979. I’m sort of a span between two generations of Columbian collectors. Sadly, like John, many have passed away. I’m hardly young any more at 68 years old, but they say you’re only as old as you feel (That makes me mentally just a kid…but physically it’s just not like it was in the old days)!

I’ve been fortunate to be able to study the fair, to teach at the University of Chicago and to share my expertise with museums, bookstores and other organizations in the Windy City. I truly enjoy working with those who have only collected and studied Columbiana for a short time, and I feel both a desire and urgency to pass on knowledge about what I truly believe to be the greatest World’s Fair in our history.

I will continue to produce newsletters, conduct sales, work on the World’s Columbian Journal and move as fast as possible to publication of my next book. Because of my schedule, and especially the time devoted to the Kennel Collection, I have not done justice to this blog; I simply haven’t had ample time to write even more. But, the next step toward remedying this will be posting excerpts from the forthcoming newsletter.

I hope each of you will enjoy the photos from the summer sale which—if I can master more of these online technicalities so easy for the next generation—will prompt you to ask me for a copy of the newsletter and the details on these items for sale. It will be dramatically easier for me to email you the text of the newsletter than it’s been for me trying to get these photos to my clients and customers.

Thanks so much for your interest and patience and enjoy these items!

— Norm Bolotin

WCE Tix-No serial #

WCE Nwsltr Medals 1A

WCE Nwsltr Pix 2B.JPG

WCE Nwslt Medals etc3.JPG

NB Covers3

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