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February 27, 2010 Ephemera Society

Ephemera Journal

The Ephemera Journal
, until now appearing every two years, will be published three times a year, each issue 32 pages in color. There will be more pages of articles and less of time-sensitive material that you will be receiving in the eNews, although important reviews and other member information will be included.

Call for Articles
The unifying theme for this first issue (of three) of volume 14 of the Ephemera Journal might be called "family business." Harley Spiller's passion for newsstand paperweights grew out of both his father's collection and the family business; John Harris collected Ferris wheel material to help document his grandfather's salvage operation that specialized in world's fairs; John Sayers began collecting ocean liner memorabilia in 1954 when he went with his parents to England on the Cunard Line RMS Franconia and returned on the Queen Elizabeth. All three collections document social ephemerality as well: newsstands, once vital to the urban experience, are gradually disappearing (along with the paperweights and even printed newspapers); world's fairs lost their luster; passenger liners have been overshadowed by cruise ships. As with so much else, a way to recapture the vitality of these past experiences is through ephemera.

Themes for future articles include: American Myths (think Paul Bunyan, Davy Crockett and the Alamo); and Memory & Mourning. If you have an article, a collection, or know of someone researching these or other topics of interest to ephemerists, please let us know!
--Diane DeBlois, editor



Ephemera NewsEphemera News

The Ephemera News is no longer being printed in its previous format but has now become an expanded monthly electronic publication, the eNews. If you are a member and are not receiving the eNews, please contact the society to have your email address included on our distriubtion list.

The Ephemera Society began issuing Ephemera News in 1981 to stay in touch with members, to offer news of current events, to publicize new publications, to feature member profiles, and to publish articles on topics that were of interest to members. Read more >>

Early issues of Ephemera News are out of print, but are available in photocopy form for $3.50 plus $2.00 postage. More recent issues are available for purchase for $4.00 plus $2.00 for postage. Contact the Society for more information.

Index of Ephemera News

This complete online Index of Ephemera News lists more than 1,100 entries, some of them containing dozens of individual references. Two separate reference listings follow the Index on this page—a bibliography of Book Reviews that have appeared in Ephemera Newsand a complete listing of Advertisers.

A photocopy of all three sections—Index, Book Reviews, and Advertisers—may be purchased for $20 including postage. Make check payable to Ephemera Society and mail to ESA, PO Box 95, Cazenovia, NY 13035 or visit the online store >>. You can also access a PDF version of the Index here >>

The Ephemera Journal - Special Editions

EJ 12Janus, the Roman god of doorways, is reported to have had the power to look both outwardly and inwardly at the same time. The fact is that most of us are not blessed with such omni-directional vision. The contributors to this issue of The Ephemera Journal, however, seem to share this Janus-like ability to focus on one aspect of their world and see something else at the same time.

They share with the rest of us the ability to accept the ordinary surface view, but then, unsatisfied, they're always looking under the carpet searching for more.

Like Richard McKinstry, many of us have marveled at the robust output of the mid-19th-century printer Charles Magnus. Rich McKinstry had seen hundreds of the lettersheets, patriotic envelopes, broadsides, city views, maps, rewards of merit, sheet music, even valentines that the German-born Magnus produced during his 50-year career in the U.S. What he hadn't seen was the kind of scholarship that such a prolific job printer like Magnus should have generated. So, instead of being satisfied with the superficial, he dug more deeply into Magnus's background to see what else a fresh eye might see.

The same kind of questioning fuels Gretchen Sorin's scholarship, but her quest to search below the surface was, this time, very personal. Unknown to her as a child, her family had taken advantage of the guiding hand that steered many African Americans through rejection and even the very real threat of danger as they traveled through the Jim Crow era -- The Negro Motorist Green-Book. Little known now, even to African Americans, Sorin has taken a fresh look at the publication that lasted for decades and helped Negro travelers maintain their dignity and sense of well being in a still hostile nation.

Somewhat like the others, Erika Piola embarked on one journey and found herself compelled to follow one of the side roads she had discovered along the way. While cataloging a collection of Civil War ephemera for The Library Company of Philadelphia, she was fascinated by the scope and variety of stationery sundries that focused on women and children. The ephemera she was cataloging became primary sources that allowed her to examine the ways in which women and children became involved in the war being fought by their fathers, brothers, and uncles.

When Richard Sheaff gets his teeth into a solitary, obscure piece of ephemera he is likely to toy with it like an English bulldog, for years if need be, pulling, chewing, growling, and feinting until he's teased more context out of it than anyone thought possible. That's what he did with a singular piece of paper that had been printed by Boston's first wood engraver, Abel Bowen. From that singular scrap he has gathered other amazing pieces that flesh out the successful business relationship between Bowen and Boston' first hat maker, Thomas Stearns.

We can be thankful that people like these exist who are willing to look beyond the obvious to coax little-known realities from printed ephemera.

--Eric Johnson, Editor


Ephemera Journal, Volume I
Ephemera Journal, Volume VI


Ephemera Journal, Volume XI
Ephemera Journal, Volume II
Ephemera Journal, Volume VII
Ephemera Journal, Volume XII
Ephemera Journal, Volume III


Ephemera Journal, Volume VIII
Ephemera Journal, Volume XIII
Ephemera Journal, Volume IV
Ephemera Journal, Volume IX
ej5 Ephemera Journal, Volume V ej10 Ephemera Journal, Volume X

Other Publications

The Encyclopedia of Ephemera: A Guide to the Fragmentary Documents of Everyday Life for the Collector, Curator, and Historian by Maurice Rickards, edited by Michael Twyman

Cameo Cards & Bella C. Landauer: A Monograph of the Ephemera Society of America, 1992

The Before and After Trade Card by Ben Crane

An Atlantic Telegraph by Robert Dalton Harris & Diane DeBlois

Rewards Of Merit by Patricia Fenn & Alfred P. Malpa

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