Taking Care of Business
On Friday, November 3, 2001, members of the Ephemera
Society's board of directors gathered in New York City for a special
meeting, and as 2001 draws to a close, there are interesting statistics
to report concerning readership of the society's site on the World
Society board member Cynthia Hart welcomed members of
the board at her New York studio, Ron Stegall, president, came in
from his Maine home by bus, and others arrived by car and Amtrak.
The morning part of the meeting largely focused on
planning the society's 2002 conference and fair, Ephemera 22, scheduled
for the Hyatt Regency in Greenwich, Conn., March 15-17. Six speakers
will be sharing their special knowledge of various topics of ephemera,
and we will repeat our appraisal program from last year with representatives
of Swann Galleries once more handling evaluations. Also, there will
be opportunities for meetings of special collector groups within
the world of ephemera and a conservation workshop.
Saturday evening the society will host a cocktail
buffet, featuring musical entertainment, and an auction to benefit
the society's current and future educational programs. Members have
been asked to donate any number of items or lots to the auction.
A catalog issued in advance will describe what is for sale and include
minimum bid prices.
Ken Johnston, Manager of Historical Collections at
Corbis, paid the board members a visit Friday morning to discuss
the collection of photographs that he oversees. The Corbis collection
has 65 million images, over 2 million of which have been digitized
for availability over the Internet. The core of the historical collection
is the Bettmann Archive, assembled by Dr. Otto L. Bettmann beginning
in 1933 when he was a young curator at the Prussian State Art Library
in Berlin. Dr. Bettmann left Germany during the 1930s and came to
New York. Over time, his collection grew to number 17 million photos.
He selected his pictures for historical relevance, artistry, drama,
and humor. Corbis acquired the archive in 1995.
Lunch was at a place called Punch at 913 Broadway,
called by one restaurant critic "one of the best kept secrets
in New York." Appropriately enough, one board member had a
During the afternoon, John and Tina Bruno, the new
promoters of the society's fair and owners of Flamingo Promotions,
met with the board to outline their plans for Ephemera 22. John
and Tina look forward to the event and making it stronger year by
year. Of primary importance is the continuance of building the list
of dealers who take part.
Dinner was at Craft, at 43 East 19th Street, an experiment
in dining that seems to have passed muster with everyone.
The Ephemera Society's web site is about a year old now,
and there are revealing statistics about our audience, what they
are looking at, and how long they stay.
Unfortunately we do not know when, but sometime during
2001 Yahoo included the society's site as a "Cool Link,"
generating quite a bit of interest. Just about 700 Internet users
accessed our site through the Yahoo link. Overall in 2001, most
users went directly to our site by typing in the URL, but we had
individuals locate us through Google as well as such other search
engines as MSN, Netscape, and Lycos.
Special interest searches also brought us readers.
People searching bookplates, Valentines, poster stamps, and bookmarks
found the site and read what we had to say about their collecting
We have seen an increase in site use from about 1,600
in December 2000, to 5,000 in June 2001, to 6,300 in November 2001.
Not surprisingly, the first thing readers see is the home page.
Beyond this, the most popular sections they look at are, in order
of preference, our list of links, the "What is Ephemera"
section, our news and articles, and then exhibits. Thankfully, after
reviewing what we have to offer, the next most popular hit is the
membership page where we have a membership application form.
How long do people stay? Throughout all of 2001, about
9,000 readers were navigating around the site and reading the features
from one to ten minutes. Another 2,000 or so stayed from ten to
thirty minutes. In December alone, about 400 individuals were with
us for between one and thirty minutes.
Having these statistics as user feedback, we will
be able to enhance the site where readers go the most and beef up
other portions that should be improved to increase their appeal.
E. Richard McKinstry
[This article originally appeared in the Northeast
Journal of Antiques & Art.]