Ephemera 21 Conference

Ephemera 21, the Ephemera Society's conference and fair will be held this year over St. Patrick's Day weekend, March 16-18, 2001, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Old Greenwich, Connecticut. We anticipate having about 85 dealers who will be offering a remarkable array of paper ephemera for sale, including colorful posters, broadsides, advertising materials, photographs, postcards, handwritten letters, scrapbooks, and the list goes on.

If you aren't hooked on ephemera yet, come join us and see what all the fun is about! If you are a dedicated ephemerist, come to what we consider to be the Cadillac of ephemera shows and meet your friends and our dealer members.

In addition to the fair, the society has scheduled a full program of informative talks over the weekend.

Charles B. Wood, a rare book and manuscript dealer from Cambridge, Massachusetts, will open the program on Friday at 10:00 AM with a presentation on his collection of salmon fishing ephemera. For the last ten years, Charles has been collecting manuscripts, letters, typescripts, pamphlets, advertising ephemera, travel brochures, etc. on this subject. He recently published an article about his collection in Ephemera News. People attending our conference will have an opportunity to hear more about Charles' collection and see examples of what he has.

Next is Robert Dalton Harris, a charter member of the Ephemera Society and proprietor of aGatherin', located in Wynantskill, New York. Rob will talk about a recently discovered essay by Henry David Thoreau that he, Thoreau, wrote on the backs of pieces of ephemera. Rob will discuss what Thoreau wrote and the ephemera that he wrote it on.

Beginning our afternoon session on Friday at 2:00 is Rachel Coffey, a graduate student in the Winterthur Program of Early American Culture, offered through the University of Delaware and Winterthur Museum. Ephemerists are familiar with Rewards of Merit, those small pieces of paper that were given to recognize the achievements of students in school, and many of us are undoubtedly acquainted with Shaker gift or spirit drawings, artwork produced by members of the Shaker religious sect during moments of inspiration. But, how many of us have ever tied the two together? Rachel Coffey will do just that as she describes the influence that Rewards of Merit had on Shaker gift drawings.

Nicolas Ricketts, curator at the Strong Museum in Rochester, New York, and society treasurer, will conclude Friday's presentations. The title of his talk is "A Paper Trail: Ephemera at Strong Museum from Past to Present." Nic will lead us through the Strong's holdings, especially focusing on its copy of A Visit From St. Nicholas in Clement Moore’s own hand, posters, trade cards, postcards, photographs, stereographs, etc. He will also talk about how the museum has incorporated ephemeral artifacts in its exhibition program, show slides of the museum's paper storage practices, and discuss the Strong's current collecting goals.

Saturday evening's cabaret will feature a living paper doll, Barbara M. Darlin, whose presentation is called "Arsenic and Tight Lace: Beauty Secrets of La Belle Époque." How far would you go to make yourself more beautiful? Would you wear a corset so tight that it was impossible to take a deep breath? Would you pin hairpieces and pads into your hair to add volume? Would you take arsenic to whiten your complexion? Barbara will answer these questions for us. She will also consider admonitions from nineteenth century advice books on women's complexion, hairstyles and care, how the ideal body shape was achieved, the controversy over tightly laced corsets, and the use of makeup. All of this is woven into a demonstration of the laborious task of dressing in full evening attire for a ball. Audience members volunteer to be her maid and help with the laces and hooks.

On Sunday, March 18, at 9:00 AM, John Margolies, noted author, photographer, and historian on American commercial architecture and design, will inform and entertain us with a talk on miniature golf. John discusses miniature golf courses, often located by the side of the road and at resorts, as examples of landscape and recreational design, as well as sources of popular American iconography. John's illustrated talk will highlight his own photographs of miniature golf courses and depictions of them on paper ephemera.

Michael Twyman, recently retired Professor of Typography & Graphic Communication at the University of Reading, England, winds up the proceedings with a talk entitled "Ephemera Comes of Age," focusing on the recently published Encyclopedia of Ephemera…, by the late Maurice Rickards and edited by Michael, and the collections at the Centre for Ephemera Studies. After his presentation, he will sign copies of the Encyclopedia….

We hope to see you in Old Greenwich!

E. Richard McKinstry

[This article originally appeared in the Northeast Journal of Antiques & Art.]

   © 2011 The Ephemera Society of America