One local man is searching for a blast from the past: three Ayer area phone books from October 1967, 1968 and 1977.

Richard Banville, who identified himself as being from the Greater Lowell area, started collecting color Xerox copies of phone book covers in 1992, and has since collected 584 photocopied covers from eastern Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

His interest began in the late 1970s, when he realized he liked the cover art.

"I like the hand-drawn covers that they did back in that time period," Banville said. "Some of the photography covers that they did from the early '70s were not bad either."

Although he has an extensive collection of photocopied covers, Banville is not interested in collecting hundreds of actual phone books. He has only collected about 60 full books from across the state and is interested in collecting 24 more from eastern Massachusetts. In the Ayer area, he is only looking for these three.

Banville said he is willing to offer $25 per book, provided that they are complete, with nothing torn out of them.

"It may be something that may take awhile before something shows up, you just don't know," he said. "But you won't know unless you try for a while."

Banville collected most of his colored cover copies from the Library of Congress. He knows what most of the phone book covers look like from the photocopies, although at times he finds that libraries do not have phone books from certain years. After some research, Banville discovered that many eastern Massachusetts cities usually shared the same background covers each year.

The 1967 and 1968 phone books are different colors, but have the same images with an outline of Massachusetts in the forefront.

If you have any of these three phone books, feel free to email apak-harvey@nashobapub.com.

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