Who Contacts the Ephemera Society?
contacts the Ephemera Society, how do they get to us, and why
are they in touch?
During the first few months of 2003, scores of emailsseemingly
the favorite way for many people to communicate these dayscame
to the society via our web site. Some were from members and others
were from other ephemerists who learned about the society online.
Details from email addresses suggest that people from a variety
of states, as well as Canada and England, are interested in 'speaking'
with the society.
One of the most gratifying recent emails was from
an eighth grade student, Mia, who was assigned to do a research
paper on the emergence of advertising in America. She was interested
in any and all information on the topic; specifically, the impact
of ephemera as it related to her topic. We look forward to welcoming
youngsters like Mia into the growing community of individuals
who appreciate the value of ephemera for studying America's rich
In contrast, a volunteer from the Albany Institute
of History and Art, Phoebe Bender, wondered about the best way
to organize the institute's ephemera collection. What is the best
way to file ephemera? What subject thesaurus is preferable for
descriptions? Where should tickets go? Under dances if they are
for dances, under dinners if they get people into dinners; under
train excursions if they are used for traveling the rails? Or
simply under a category headed Tickets? What is best practice?
On February 13, a resident of Arizona emailed because she was
doing a story on bookmarks and wondered if a member of the society
would offer comments on their appeal as collectibles. Thankfully,
the society's web site has a page devoted specifically to bookmarks.
That very same day a dealer from Victoria, British Columbia wrote:
"I have a programme dated 1878 for an evening of entertainment
to aid Yellow Fever sufferers in Irvington, N.J. The programme
was printed by B.S. Whitehead, printer, 19 Arlington, Newark.
Does anyone have information on this printer?"
Also, we get emails from people who are interested
in joining the Ephemera Society. A very generous person who picked
up one of our membership brochures in San Francisco said that
she was interested in coming in at the Lifetime Level, the highest
category of membership.
Moonlighting from her job as a marketing director of a firm in
Fond du Lac, Wisconsin that makes playground equipment, someone
asked if any members of the society were acquainted with decorative
dressing screens. She had a six-panel Victorian wood screen with
"absolutely beautiful examples of 1870-1880 ephemera"
pasted onto it. Included were trade cards and prints of birds,
flowers, fruit, and animals. Perhaps from Europe, the screen came
into her possession from an antique store in San Antonio, Texas.
Graham Hudson, secretary of the Ephemera Society in Great Britain,
was in touch to find out about a topic he was researching for
a book, provisionally entitled The Printer's Art: Design and
the Jobbing Printer in England and America, 1725-1925. "What
I need at present is information as to sources regarding the design
education of printers and engravers in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century
Other communications involved administrative details
involved in running the society, notices about upcoming sales
or auctions (especially the sale of the Mastai collection of ephemera
relating to flags on February 8, 2003), and emails about Ephemera
23, the society's annual weekend conference and fair in March.
Of particular note were press releases from Ephemera 23's promoters,
John and Tina Bruno of Flamingo Promotions, and an email about
the many exhibits that were planned for the event from the society's
Interestingly enough, the emails that come in today closely match
letters received from earlier years before emails ever existed.
These letters regularly appeared in Ephemera News, the
society's quarterly newsletter. One, from the autumn of 1982,
from volume 2, number 4, concerns the thrill of the chase and
was actually reprinted from the Washington Post. It reads: "If
an ad in the paper says there's a piano, I go. Where there's a
piano there might be a piano bench. And in that bench
Obviously sheet music.
However people choose to communicate, by letter,
telephone, fax, or email, we encourage individuals to contact
the society. Chances are that we have members whose interests
mirror your own and would be happy to find another enthusiast.
E. Richard McKinstry