Bright Young Collectors: Jamie Mastrogiacomo
Where are you from / where do you live?
I am from Salem, New Hampshire, and I am currently living there as I complete a virtual semester.
What do you study at University?
I am a junior at Smith College, where I am double-majoring in English and American Studies. I am also pursuing a concentration in book studies, which allows me to take unique classes dealing with rare books and archives!
Please introduce us to your book collection. What areas do you collect in?
I collect books and ephemera about The Beatles. Some books are unlicensed, third-party biographies, and others are memoirs from those close to the band. Over the last few years, my focus has shifted to the experiences of women who worked with and surrounded The Beatles. I think that these experiences are essential to understanding the craze that was “Beatlemania,” a movement spearheaded by teenage girls. Furthermore, these experiences go beyond just books – the experience of a Beatlemaniac can be also found in concert tickets, pins, stickers, and record sleeves. To me, these ephemeral objects are just as fascinating.
How many books are in your collection?
Currently, my collection consists of thirteen books, three magazines, 62 trading cards, and a number of miscellaneous ephemeral material including album inserts, concert tickets, and newspaper clippings. I also have plenty of records, CDs, and DVDs that don’t fit into the book/ephemera category!
What was the first book you bought for your collection?
The first book that I remember purchasing is Who Were the Beatles? by Geoff Edgers. It’s a children’s book that tells the story of The Beatles in a basic, streamlined way. It was the first book that got me really invested in their musical journey.
How about the most recent book?
The most recent book in my collection is a coffee table book of Paul McCartney paintings. I’m fascinated by each Beatle’s solo endeavors, so I was excited to come across McCartney’s work in a different medium!
And your favorite book in your collection?
My favorite item is a book of sheet music that was made to promote Paul McCartney’s 1979 album Back to the Egg. I love that I can see his music in a printed format. It also has some really beautiful promotional photos inside. I like that he features his wife Linda, who was an integral member of their band Wings.
Best bargain you’ve found?
Once at an antique store in Maine, I came across a Beatles shirt tag from 1964. It was only three dollars, and I still can’t believe how cheap it was considering its well-kept condition. The tag to me is almost as interesting as the shirt. Whoever thought to preserve a tag that most people would throw away must have been a truly dedicated fan.
How about The One that Got Away?
I often come across limited edition magazines about The Beatles, and I wish that I could buy all of them. It’s fascinating to see how their work generates interest after all these years, and I always regret not picking up the latest issues.
What would be the Holy Grail for your collection?
Ever since I discovered Freda Kelly, The Beatles’ former secretary, I’ve wanted to get my hands on one of her homemade fanzines. She was president and founder of the official Beatles fan club for ten years, and I think that her writing would be an endearing snapshot of the Beatlemania that swept the U.S. in the early 60s. Frieda has said in interviews that the surviving fanzines are tucked away in her attic, and I have yet to find one for sale anywhere. If the opportunity ever comes to snag one, I’ll be thrilled!
Who is your favorite bookseller / bookstore?
I really love Raven Used Books in Northampton, Massachusetts. I’ve found many of my school textbooks there, but tucked among contemporary work you might get lucky and find a vintage treasure now and then.
What would you collect if you didn’t collect books?
I would probably stick to pop culture-related ephemera like pins and trading cards. I really love printed material and its history!