Saturday, January 12, 2019

Rags, Paper and Pins: The Merchandising of Memphis Wrestling


A couple of years ago, I purchased a copy of Jim Cornette and Mark James’ Rags, Paper, and Pins: The Merchandising of Memphis Wrestling. The book fascinated me, because it was unlike any wrestling book that I had seen. Instead of focusing on feuds and behind the scene stories, this book was 350 pages of pictures and brief stories regarding how the merchandising of Memphis Wrestling was created and how it evolved over the years.

Author Jim Cornette was in the middle of the merchandising explosion in the 80’s and had a front row seat to all the changes that came with that. This included printing glossy color photos to sell at tables instead of cheap stock black and white cards and finding ways to sell pictures and stories to wrestling magazines here in the United States and in Japan. Like always, Jim Cornette is upfront and honest about the business and discusses the finances in great details which fascinating to read. He talks about how as a teenager he was able to convince Christine Jarrett to sell his photos at the merchandise tables, and how he found a printer who’d print the pictures for X amount of money, in order for both he and the company to both profit. It’s basic business, but it’s interesting to see how it all worked out on the pro wrestling side, especially during the territory days.




The book discusses everything from programs, magazines, pictures, pins, and even records. The majority of the book is made up of photos of all of these interesting pieces of merchandising, but sadly it’s all in black and white. The cost to print a book this size and in full color on a limited run would be astronomical, so I understand why they went the route that they did, but damn I wish they would have uploaded the full color photos somewhere as a companion website.


Also inside, are full scans of programs that Jim Cornette made, complete with the stories he wrote along with the outlines he made for the design of the programs. This is just the type of thing you won’t find in other books.

Rags, Paper and Pins: The Merchandising of Memphis Wrestling is definitely made for a niche audience, but I think any fan of wrestling history will enjoy it. There are way more pictures than text, but I found the book to be well balanced. I got enough background and history behind everything shown in the book and it almost felt like I was on a virtual tour in a museum curated by Jim Cornette.




I recommend checking out Rags, Paper and Pins: The Merchandising of Memphis Wrestling if you have any interest in Memphis wrestling history or wrestling merchandise history. It truly is a unique book and I doubt we’ll ever see anything like it again.

You can buy Rags, Paper and Pins: The Merchandising of Memphis Wrestling at JimCornette.com.

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