The Ephemera Trip of a Lifetime – London May 2015

esa-in-londonIn May 2015, the Ephemera Society of America took a grand anniversary tour of London, England!


Over the course of two weeks, members traveled all around the city. If you missed our London trip, don't worry! Here is a day-by-day retelling of our our journey across the pond:


Day 1: Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum 
The museum gave us four ephemera rich tours, thanks to former curator, Honor Godfrey, who founded the Ephemera Society of Australia, and present curator, Anna Renton.The museum itself is dedicated to interpreting the history of the sport, from roots in Jeu de Paume and battledore & shuttlecock; charting the history of the Wimbledon tournament, from 1877 at the Wimbledon croquet club to the present site beginning 1922; and showing the influence of tennis on popular culture.
Ephemera in London Day OneEphemera in London Day One

A temporary exhibit of tennis-themed posters displayed some dramatic examples of their collection of around 800, grouped to show how tennis was used to promote travel, fashion, food, and some surprises.

The library was founded by Alan Little, who is still writing books on tennis, and is open for research in all aspects of the sport. The stores (see group above, l to r: Nany Rosin, Diane DeBlois, Ron Stegall, Robert Harris, Richard McKinstry, Barbara Loe, and a British ephemerist) are also filled with well organized objects, costumes, and ephemera as well as a small exhibit arranged for us by Malin Lundin (see above, holding a tennis-themed valentine).
Day 2: The John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera at the Bodleian Library, Oxford
 esa-day-2-1The new Bodleian has a stunning rooftop balcony, and the panorama of Oxford was our final treat, after an exhibit of material and a talk by Julie-Anne Lambert on the collection's vast holdings of ephemera and the struggle to catalog them. Now that OCR has been applied to a portion of the collection, it is possible to, for instance, gather material that includes a common word or phrase. Data supplied by OCR was used by the curators for the creation of the main library's exhibition "Genius"  to bring together several pieces of promotional ephemera using the concept of genius as a marketing tool. We had time to view that astonishing exhibit, and to visit other venues in Oxford, like the Ashmolean Museum, the Rivers Museum.
Day 3: Maurice Rickards Collection and John Lewis Collection at the Centre for Ephemera Studies, Dept. of Typography and Graphic Communication, University of Reading
Both the academic department and the volunteers at Ephemera Studies put on a huge all day festival of images, ideas, and refreshment. Michael Twyman had prepared 22 mini exhibits of French ephemera, each arranged to show something quintessentially French compared with an English or American printing. Tours of special items from both the Maurice Rickards and the John Lewis collections were tantalizing. These collections are mounted on standardized panels which allowed for easy exhibition mounting; a choice made by the dealer who sold the university the Lewis collection. The emphasis throughout the exhibits is on ephemera as a teaching tool--the professors believe that the students need the tactile experience, the materiality, and observe that the younger generation finds this life-changing.
Day 4: Ephemera Society Banquet & Presentation of Pepys Medal to Ephemera Society of America
esa-day-4-3Catherine Haill, librarian and curator of theatre and performance, has been part of the National Ballet Collection since its first home in Covent Garden, and is justifiably proud of the collection's gaining status to the point where its display galleries in the main V&A are the most popular, and the museum is now called "Art, Design and Performance." What we saw was an exhibit of some ephemeral rarities, and a tour of the vast archived holdings - itself the top of an iceberg that is stored in Wiltshire.
Banquet & Pepys Medal Presentation, National Liberal Club
The evening was balmy, so that the Members Only lounge balcony overlooking the Thames was a delight - and everything felt very grand and festive, as the wine flowed, and the sixty attendees gathered.
Day 5: Museum of London
esa-day-5-1Beverly Cook is curator of Social History at the Museum of London and showed us the 2010 gallery called the People's City, with a concentration for her on the 1850s to 1940s. Such galleries are refreshed after 10 to 15 years so there is another planned - but the museum is also relocating to Spittalfields. Emphasized is the emotive necessity for museum displays - and, of particular note, was a "Poverty Wall" and a section devoted to the Suffragette movement. An interactive alcove allowed visitors to locate a London address on Charles Booth's 1886 to 1909 hand-colored map of London poverty (the original a donation to the Museum by the late Peter Jackson).
Day 6: Portabello Road and Museum of Brands, Packaging, and Advertising
Day 7: Ephemera Society Summer Special Fair + Etc Book Fair
Day 8: Armourers' Hall Reception and Peter Jackson London Collection Exhibition
Day 9: College of Arms
Day 10–13: London International Antiquarian Book Fair
Day 11–13: Provincial Booksellers Fairs Association London Book Fair
Day 14: Bloomsbury Book and Ephemera Fair

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