December 1, 2003
After you’ve determined the occasion, place, and date, there’s little need for a party flyer—except maybe as scrap paper to jot down a name and number after the party. But for 39-year-old Curtis Sherrod, owner of a unique staffing service in New York City called All Things Traffic Inc., there are several reasons not to discard them.
Back in the day, these flyers served as sheets of record. “It was how I knew who was who and who was going to be where,” says Sherrod, a New York City native and former member of the rap group Touch of Class Disco. “I would get in—under the ropes—to three or four parties a night. Every time I went to a party, I would keep the flyer.”
Sherrod also liked the graphics. “It was pre-computer. They [designers] were doing real artwork—press type or graffiti.” The most prolific graphic artists, says Sherrod, were Buddy Esquire, Anthony Riley, and Danny Tong. “They had the best hands and incredible rendering skills. And they wouldn’t do posters for just anybody.”
As his collection grew, Sherrod realized his flyers were becoming a record for hip-hop history. He has more than 300 party flyers, all for events he’s attended. “I remember when Kool Moe Dee battled Busy Bee at Harlem World and kicked his butt. What a night!” His oldest, which features The Brothers Disco, dates back to 1977.
Others are also realizing the value in party flyers. There are about 80 of Sherrod’s flyers in the permanent collection at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Sotheby’s appraised them at more than $15,000. Another of his collections will be touring Japan and other parts of Asia.
PRESERVATION RITES: With paper items regarded as collateral pieces, Sherrod says it is important to preserve the pieces. He’s hoping to raise roughly $60,000 to deacidify his flyers. “If we don’t, there won’t be anything left.”
LOVE FEST: “If you’re going to start collecting, make sure it’s something you’re passionate about; if not, it becomes a fad, and you could end up spending lots of money on a hobby you probably won’t stick with.” If you’d like to contribute to Sherrod’s fundraising efforts, you can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.