It Was a Feast!!!


April 17, 2014 Sheryl Jaeger

To view the actual presentations of the Food & Wine presenters click on the links below.


By Diane DeBlois

Ephemera 34 offered a many-course tasters delight - and you should all put next year’s date on the calendar: March 20-22, 2015 , same place, with a conference theme of SPORTS & PLAY. If you would like to be considered as a presenter, or know of someone to approach, contact Barbara Loe .

The Conference

Not accident (Allison Moore broke her arm leaving Mark Rucker to handle Ravens’ View Farm alone, so they couldn’t come from British Columbia), illness (Michael Osborne landed in hospital, so at very short notice our treasurer John Sayers added a fine presentation on Dining at Sea) , or storm (Leslie Behm and Shirley Sliker
were turned back to Michigan by a blizzard and Shirley was ‘patched in’ to their presentation by phone) could dampen the enthusiasm of a full-house audience, and a roster of excellent talks. The Journal will be showcasing some of the presentations, but the following are thumbnails.

aWILLIAM WOYS WEAVER emphasized the human story behind every piece of ephemera. The oldest food-related piece in his collection is a 1470s German new year’s card illustrating Christ (reminiscent of the young Krishana) with gifts of candy. But , then, there exist papyrus shopping lists! Culinary ephemera is culturally-specific: a Paris restaurant tradecard 1800-1820 reveals what one would get at a meal and how much;
Karl Walter in St. Joseph MO was an early locavore promoting fish; Heinz reacted to the 1906 pure food laws.

bM. STEPHEN MILLER in tracing the origin of garden seed selling in America emphasized that one cannot separate a product from social history. The Shakers were not the first seedsman (Landreth was in 1784 with wholesale trade) but they were the first to package seeds in small quantities for home or small market gardens. The Shaker community at New Lebanon had 6,000 acres of land and, by 1790, 321 members. By 1795 their largest crop was on-ion seed - selling 221 pounds; by 1805 they were selling 7 tons of seed and, by 1810, they were a fully integrated industry. It was a revolutionary industry - and short lived, ending in 1888 as there were just 30 able-bodied men left. See much of his collection:

cMICHAEL A. RUSSO’s alphabet of tomato images will be reproduced in the Journal (though just one image per letter, and there were often more). They included strains of tomato (such as the Diadem introduced in 1897), attitudes towards tomatoes (“early”
is what appeals to all gardeners), and the history of the ‘love apple’ which, in the language of vegetables, meant “an acquired taste.” Visit:

dELIZABETH YOUNG, in appreciating the close relationship between food and medicine, explained that she is drawn to antiquarian books that are interleaved with ephemera. As a bookseller, she keeps these informal scrap albums intact.
She showed several examples: for instance, an 1869 Our Family Physician had tucked in ephemera as diverse as a ca1905 advertisement for Dr. Caldwell’s Syrup Pepsin, a 1910 naturopathic pamphlet, and a 1929 drug prescription. A
1737 British manuscript book covered in limp vellum embraced a linen account and indexed recipes for both nostrums and food, including how to find herbs.

eHENRY VOIGT showed that menus mirror society - reflecting both large events and small cultural details, through the lens of class. The printed menu in America appeared with the first restaurants in the 1840s, showing the advent of Russian
service, with a series of courses so a diner needed to know what was available. 1841 menus for the Astor House (different choices for "Gentlemen’s Ordinary" and for “Ladies”) were contrasted with an 1842 menu for a Truckmen’s Banquet
with food described simply as “beef” “pigs” “lamb.” Extinct food appears (on an 1851 menu, roast Doe-Birds, hunted to extinction) and symbolic foods (hard tack for 1885 Civil War veterans). Of particular interest are menus that reveal inflection points in social trends.Visit:

fJOHN SAYERS asked us to imagine the complexities of feeding passsengers on steamships. To plan a menu there had to considerations of: availability of fresh food, the class of service, variety over time, selecting the cover illustration, printing the menu (on board or not), and special events. An advertisement for steerage on the SS Amerika in 1905 showed the attraction of ample food to immigrants who might never have eaten enough. This contrasted with an 1894 menu with timed courses in first class. A menu mentioning troops shows there probably was war materiel on board the Lusitania ; a 1946 menu on board the Queen Elizabeth might have given British war brides their first orange.

gDON LINDGREN particularly likes business archives - because legal documentation helps in decoding the history of the cocktail ("spirited ephemera"!) Patents reveal distilling techniques; litigation in the ‘sherry wars’ showed trends in drinking; distributor lists by DuVivier show responses to Prohibition. Fancy labels on alcohol helped prevent fraud. A bar license of 1677, Bristol County CT, showed that publicans could not serve servants or negroes. Mechanical ice making and the ease of purchasing liquid carbonic acid revolutionized the cocktail. An 1862 bar guide is, perhaps, the first cocktail book and Jerry Thomas the first bartender to show the flashy flair (shaking the cocktail high over one shoulder) that is still a visual trope. Visit his extensive web site:

hSHIRLEY BROCKER SLIKER (who should be shown with a telephone receiver not a microphone!) talked of some of the best known foods represented, across their long histories, in the archive managed by LESLIE M.
BEHM at Michigan State University. Arm & Hammer baking soda since 1865; Cream of Wheat since 1890; Nabisco formed by Adolphus Green to save the fragmented biscuit industry; Sea Foam since 1868; Calumet baking powder; the Dresden painting that still appears promoting Baker ’s Chocolate. Shirley and her husband Alan have given us all a remarkable resource for food research. Visit

iDONNY ZALDIN, on Sunday morning, summarized what the Friday lectures had shown about the scope and history of culinary ephemera. He then concentrated on showing that by far the majority of Victorian-era ephemera pictured
an idyllic homelife of plenty. While food most intimately reflects culture, most ephemera reflects a cultural ideal. Hard to find images of the foodways of the working class appear, for instance, in the "before" images on metamorphic trade
cards. But descriptions of the culinary privations of British and American poor are found in fiction (Dickens), non-fiction (Henry Mayhew’s 1851 London Poor), the illustrations of Cruikshank, and the photographs of workshops and tenements.

jDANIEL GIFFORD has been working with a census of postcard senders and receivers that he has compiled from years of eBay sleuthing (plus collections at the Smithsonian). In looking particularly at the patriotic images on cards sent to celebrate Thanksgiving, he notes that, from 1907 through the peak of 1910, the preponderence were sent and received by those with Anglo-Saxon or Germanic names living in rural areas (or small
towns) in the northern half of the state, and mostly women. The images suggest or depict Uncle Sam with scenes of plentiful food - consistent with the “Country Life Movement’ that countered a sense that life in rural America needed ‘fixing.’ Images of Columbia are scarce, perhaps because she had been co-opted, in the same period, by the Suffragists.

kGAIL McMILLAN told the fascinating tale of a long sleuthing though several different archives to unravel the story of Ann Godwin Figgat and her husband Charlie (who, in a surprise ending, was a notorious embezzler who came to a bad end). With
her collaborator Jean C. Robbins, McMillan discovered correspondence, a diary, and two generations of recipes recorded in notebooks, that reveal a great deal of the culture of this small corner of America (Fincastle, Botetourt County, Virginia and environs) from 1835 to 1885. An interesting aspect of the coverage during the Civil War years was how little impact food shortages elsewhere had on Botetourt. For instance, newspaper accounts declared a lack of salt, yet a letter reveals the Figgats had plenty.

The Exhibits

Shown below is just one exhibit frame row of four that held 11 fascinating food-related compilations: from left to right: “Patriotic Thanksgiving” by Daniel Gifford, “Dining on Land and at Sea” by Kathy Alpert and John Sayers.


Other exhibits: “Uses of Celebrities in Food Advertising” by Kit Barry; “Field to Table, Inch by Inch” by Beth Carroll-Horrocks; “Ah Shucks, the Bounty of the Sea” by Jack Ford; “H.J. Heinz, Pickles for Everyone” by George Fox; “For Special Occasions: Champagne and Cognac” by Arthur H. Groten; “Tasty Treats: Ice Cream, Marshmallow, Chocolate, and More” by Pat Monaco; “Moveable Culinary Ephemera” by Ellen Rubin; and “Victory Gardens” by Michael Russo.

The Fair

Everyone agreed that the Fair looked particularly handsome this year - dealers created interesting displays in a variety of ways. And Ephemera flowed from booths to collectors at a steady stream.

mEven dealer signs were creative. Evie was also Jeopardy master at the banquet.









The Auction & Banquet


Checking out at the Silent Auction and George Fox, the Auctioneer for the better material, with Marybeth Malmsheimer organizing both events.

Maurice Rickards Award.

The Rickards Award, created 29 years ago, is the highest honor of the Ephemera Society. It was created to recognize extraordinary involvement in the world of ephemera and ephemera studies. The Society strives to award the Rickards only to strongly deserving individuals, and to award it only in those years when a truly outstanding candidate has been identified. There is a Board-approved document covering the award and the guidelines to be used when considering candidates . . . copies of this are available to anyone interested. The bottom line is that the Society bestows this award only to individuals—or couples—with truly outstanding track records. The list of past recipients certainly underlines this principle.

qThis year, your Board of Directors has voted to award the Rickards Award to an exceptionally qualified man, José Rodriguez! We all know José well, as a friendly, soft-spoken and extremely knowledgeable dealer, buyer, and collector who patiently seems to go through every item in every box in every booth at a show. Most of us are aware that he has spent decades putting together the definitive collection of cameo material, and in addition keeping a careful, detailed census of all known cameo material that somehow is not yet in his own collection. He has also extensively researched the individuals and firms that manufactured cameo dies and printed the cameo covers, letterheads and trade cards. His never-to-be-topped collection now resides in the Huntington Library, available for study and research by one and all.

But José’s cameo collection is but one of his many, many ephemera-related interests.
He never blows his own horn, so most of us are probably unaware that José was a
Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Lehman College, then went on to earn two graduate de-
grees from Yale. After working in the banking industry, he moved into the ephemera
world full-time in 1988.

He buys, sells, collects and studies quality postcards in particular . . . along with
trade cards, letterheads and most every genre of ephemera collectible. José has
always shared generously of his knowledge in many fields with all who ask. His
reputation is one of total honesty and respect shown to one and all.

José has served as President of the Connecticut Post Card Club, and as its Treasurer. He is or has been a member of nearly every Northeast postcard club, been a member of the International Federation of Postcard Dealers for 35+ years, and a member of the American Philatelic Society for 30+ years. He has served on our Board of Directors. And in addition, José is one of the extremely few—perhaps the only—Society member who has set up at all but one or two of our annual fairs, and . . . has listened to every single conference presentation at every one of those shows here which he attended! I know I sure can’t say that! José has evaluated and appraised many collections for individuals and institutions, including the New York Public Library. He has contributed to virtually every single postcard book and price guide published in the past 25 years. He has made presentations, done exhibits and otherwise involved himself with museums and  historical societies in addition to many postcard venues and events.

He also maintains a Spanish language website featuring historical ephemera and photographic images of Puerto Rico.

I recently heard somebody on NPR say that recognition is respect made visible. Our Ephemera Society is eager to make its respect visible in the form of the prestigious Rickards Award!

Dick Sheaff, Chair, Recognition Committee


New Award:

The Recognition Committee of the Board of Directors has established both an Ephemera Society of America Reward of Merit, and an Honor Roll to record the names of those who have made significant contributions to ephemera in general and/or to the Society. This first round of awards of necessity includes people who are no longer with us, but to whom we owe debts of gratitude. Recipients, several of whom were present at the banquet, receive a certificate and a lapel pin to wear with pride at Society events. The Reward of Merit does not preclude anyone subsequently being awarded the Rickards Medal.

Jean Berg

Longtime, highly respected, ephemera collector and dealer. Served on ESA Board. ESA Forum presenter.

Jeffrey Carr

Longtime, highly respected, ephemera collector and dealer. Served on ESA Board.

David Cheadle

Ephemera collector, dealer and author. Co-founder of the Trade Card Collector’s Association, editor of Advertising Trade Card Quarterly.

Emily Davis Mobley

Ephemera collector and dealer. ESA founder. Served on ESA Board. ESA officer. ESA conference organizer. ESA Forum presenter.

Scott DeWolfe

Ephemera collector and dealer. Author of several articles. Served on ESA Board.

John Dilg

Ephemera collector and dealer. Author of ephemera articles. ESA conference presenter. Served on ESA Board.

Joseph Freedman

Longtime, highly respected, ephemera collector and dealer. Strong early ESA supporter.

Jack Golden

Ephemera collector and dealer. ESA founder. Served on ESA Board. Past President. ESA conference presenter. Designed items for the Society. Conference presenter.

Arthur Groten

Ephemera collector and dealer. Prolific writer on ephemera subjects, and strong advocate of ephemera to the philatelic world. Served on ESA Board. Past President. Conference presenter.

Matthew Isenburg

Foremost collector of early photography-related material, including ephemera. Served on ESA Board. Conference presenter.

Stuart Kaplan

Foremost collector of playing card material, including ephemera. Served on ESA Board.

Alfred Malpa

Ephemera collector and dealer. Strong early ESA supporter. Served on ESA Board. Past President. Co-author of the ESA book, Rewards of Merit. Conference presenter.

Stephen Miller

Foremost collector of Shaker material, including ephemera. Author of two books of the subject, and numerous articles. Chairman of the ESA Board. Conference presenter.

William Frost Mobley

Ephemera collector and dealer. ESA founder. Served on ESA Board. ESA officer. Conference presenter.

Carol Resnick

Ephemera collector and dealer. Served on ESA Board. PastPresident.

Stephen Resnick

Longtime, highly respected, ephemera collector and dealer.

Brian Riba

Ephemera collector, dealer and auctioneer. Strong early ESA supporter. Served on ESA Board.

Nicholas Ricketts

Ephemera collector and curator. Served on ESA Board. Past President. Conference presenter.

Will Shortz

The Puzzle Master. Ephemera collector, and frequent ESA participant and entertainer.

Ronald Stegall

Ephemera collector. Strong ESA supporter. Served on ESA Board. Past President.

Frank Wood

Ephemera collector and dealer. Served on ESA Board, and as Treasurer.




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