The definitive Blankis-Salida thread
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Details about Salida, CO:

Salida is a small town of about 5000 in the middle of the Rockies.  It was settled along the Arkansas river and sits in a small valley surrounded by massive 14,000 foot peaks.  It exists primarily because it’s one of the few places where you can put a town in the area. There’s enough flatland to have a railroad, homes, and agriculture.  For the most part, it’s an area for recreation on the Arkansas and in the mountains.  

Details about Frank Blankis:

Everything I know is public knowledge, either from the internet or Bruce’s original Overstreet article.  In all of my conversations with Bruce he never strayed from the original story, so presumptively it is true.  From online records Blankis has addresses in counties running up and down HWY 285 through the southern Rockies, but I can’t confirm that he actually lived anywhere outside of Salida.  He was born 8/31/1919 and died on 7/17/2007 at age 82. He’s buried in Salida. His dad’s name was Frank, so he’s at least a Jr. According to Bruce, Frank Blankis was deaf and mute and was therefore excluded from military service.  This is what reportedly led him to like war comics so much. I can find Frank’s name on the roll at the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind in the early to mid-1930s, so this much checks out. Frank had 4 siblings, all of whom have passed at this time.  For this reason there isn’t much of anything to go on other than what Bruce has said. Bruce says that Frank worked at the fish hatchery.  

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The collection (finally): 

I want to start with some things Bruce told me that are not verified.  First, he told me that in addition to the books he got there were other stacks of golden age books (specifically he stated Military Comics) that were exposed to the elements and fell apart in his hands.  I do not believe this to be true at all. 

Second, he said that although the collection is known for its 1950s books, there were books going into the late 1960s..  He gave me a copy of Mandrake the Magician that had similar qualities to the Salida books, but that’s the only one I saw.  It has no markings, but as we’ll get into later, you wouldn’t necessarily expect it to have any. If this is the case, these are all undocumented and would be indistinguishable.  He told me this in person and in his original article he says that there were 500 books from 1963-69 which weren’t as well preserved as the earlier books. However, other than the Mandrake, I’ve never seen nor heard of any of these books anywhere else.  I will make an exception here that I did get the Uncle Scrooge 64 from him and I have seen the US 63. Those are 1966, but were subscription books and not war books so the post-63 Disneys are definitely a thing. Assuming this is true, the books should be divided into pre- and post-1963 segments due to the different places they were stored.  

Now the meat.  According to Bruce’s article, he was called about the books in June of 1994.  There was a shack that had been closed in 1963 and within were “six boxes of comics wrapped in newspaper”.  No other detail is given. He says there were 700 Atlas and DC war comics, but my guess is this is the total number of comics.  He says the collection was 60% war and 30% humor. For 700 total, this is 400-450 war books which is a more realistic number. I’ve never seen a DC war book from the collection past 1959 and the Atlas books petered out around 1957, although that goes along with the Atlas implosion.  This makes me think that although the shack was closed in 1963, the books don’t extend beyond 1959. In Bruce’s original article he mentions that Blankis stopped buying books in 1969 because prices went from 12 cents to 15 cents, one could speculate that he made a similar triage in 1961 when the prices went up from 10 cents to 12 cents, but I have absolutely nothing to support this. 

From first hand accounts, the books were largely offered to 3 collectors.  One of whom still has most all of his. Another who appears to have let all of his go.  The third is a mystery that I continue to work on. With this offering a list was sent out, but I (and others) have not been able to get a copy of it.  If anyone can find me a copy of this that would be incredible. If anyone knows who the 3rd buyer was, I would love to have that knowledge as well. 

What major/key books were in the collection?  For sure there is a copy of Our Army at War 83, Our Fighting Forces 1, War Comics 11, GI Combat 1, and Foxhole 4.  Bruce made a claim that there were the “purty thirty” GI Combat washtones, which would include 87, but I do not believe this to be the case.  I think there was a GIC 69, but the remainder of the books were late-1959-1964. Unless these later DCs were sold en masse to unknown collector #3 who has not shown nor released any of them, I believe the DCs stopped in 1959.  

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What history I can find on where the books were purchased: 

The books are identified -- with a few exceptions -- by certain store/date stamps. 

1946-47 - Fred’s Newsstand

Mid 1950 - Don’s Newsstand with a distrubutor code, usually a C or M.  In 9/51 the font of the stamp changed to the “classic” Blankis-Salida stamp that most of us are familiar with. This will continue with one notable interruption through 1959.  However, within a month the “Don’s Newsstand” component was gone and only the date/distributor code was used. 

Feb-Jun 1953 - for some reason all books in this time frame were stamped with a black “Cookie’s place” stamp.  

Aug 53-Apr 57 - the classic red date stamp with a C or M.  

May 57-Mar 59 - the classic C/M, but now with a large “Magnum Sporting Goods” stamp added

 

Fred’s Newsstand - the stamps have Fred E Coupland on them, so obviously he was the owner.  I can’t find anything about where this newsstand was. His middle name was Elsworth for nothing other than curiosity’s sake. 

Don’s Newsstand -- not sure, but since the stamp stayed consistent this likely turned into Magnum Sporting Goods. 

Cookie’s Place -- This was a candy shop owned by Leo and Patricia Cook.  It was open from at least 1951-1961 and was located at 129 W 1st Street. This location is part of a large building that at the time was the local theater.  

Nor-Colo was also a sweets shop.  The stamp gives an address of 121 W 1st Street.  This is most likely the same shop as Cookie’s Place.  I assume the numbering must have been a little flexible as it’s part of the same large building, but as you can see in pictures below and I verified in person, it’s what is currently 129.  Maybe they rezoned? Given that two candy shops were operating consecutively in the same address, Nor-Colo must have turned into Cookie’s place. Whether it was an ownership change or just a name change I can’t say.  

Magnum Sporting Goods -- I can find an address for this of 138 W 1st Street, which is just across the street from Cookie’s place.  I can find some ownership information for the building, and some operator information from 1961 (Irvin Oberle) and later in the 1980s.  However, I can’t find who the owner definitively was during the time Blankis was purchasing. Again, if you look at the distributor stamp for both Don’s Newsstand and Magnum Sporting Goods, it’s the same stamp.  This means that either some repurposing of Don’s into Magnum happened with continued distribution, or the books were being stamped by the distributor before delivery to the shops which seems much less likely to me.  

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Thanks for posting all this history.  Hopefully folks will post some scans of books.  Would love to see the store stamps.

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32,999 posts

Pretty sure Dan has a bunch, including some choice WDCS subscription copies!

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This is the building where Magnum and presumptively Don's was, then and now.  

 

The last picture is facing North on West 1st Street with Cookie's on the left and Magnum on the right.  That's a great view to pick up some comics. 

magnum.jpg

MVIMG_20200314_092614.jpg

MVIMG_20200314_092642.jpg

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I do hope that this draws out more people to share their books and stamps.  I'd like to have it consolidated into one place.  

The way that the pedigree book is being pursued, this is one pedigree that won't get much pub.  For one thing, it's low on the dollar list as far as priorities go, but more importantly Ritter wants data from the CGC census and nobody in their right mind is slabbing Salidas. 

Lingering questions I have: 

Where was the shack?  I'm working on this.  I drove to Blankis' reported addresses, one is a trailer park, one is a home with no shack, and one is now in a high-end development way outside of town.  It seems that the home is the most likely place, because it's walking distance from the shops. 

Does anyone have a list?  I'm tracking down any and every lead I can.  If anyone can get this, please let me know. 

Who got the bulk of the books?  I can check off a number of people that it wasn't, but that isn't enough. 

Why did he go to Cookie's for the first half of '53?  We'll never know. 

 

At any rate, feel free to chime in with any information you may have.  And someone feel free to do the same for any pedigree you know of.  @storypapers how about some Bethlehem stories? 

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7 minutes ago, adamstrange said:

Belongs to a friend now:

War11salida.jpg

Not cool!  

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22 minutes ago, october said:

Pretty sure Dan has a bunch, including some choice WDCS subscription copies!

Primo.  Absolutely primo.  

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36 minutes ago, buttock said:

I will make an exception here that I did get the Uncle Scrooge 64 from him and I have seen the US 63. Those are 1966, but were subscription books and not war books so the post-63 Disneys are definitely a thing.

I have several Uncle Scrooges that were not subscription books and were from 1963 - 1965.  They were bought from Bruce by a Scrooge collector and, while not coded, are super-white.  I also had a Christmas for Shacktown giant sized reprint that I bought from Bruce at a San Diego Con (no code but gorgeous).

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41 minutes ago, buttock said:

I grew up in NM, as a little comic nerd

Quite an opportune place to live under the circumstances :grin:

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5 minutes ago, adamstrange said:

I have several Uncle Scrooges that were not subscription books and were from 1963 - 1965.  They were bought from Bruce by a Scrooge collector and, while not coded, are super-white.  I also had a Christmas for Shacktown giant sized reprint that I bought from Bruce at a San Diego Con (no code but gorgeous).

Bruce dragged those books around for years trying to sell them.  According to his article, those books were not stored with the war books.  

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50 minutes ago, buttock said:

I’ve never seen a DC war book from the collection past 1959

Me either so I think you be confident that they don't exist.

51 minutes ago, buttock said:

Bruce made a claim that there were the “purty thirty” GI Combat washtones, which would include 87, but I do not believe this to be the case.

I heard him mention these but no one other than Bruce ever saw them and, like you, I don't think they exist.

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