Report on Ephemera 21
[Photos 2, 3 and 4 are © Matthew R. Isenburg.
21 is history. The conference speakers greatly informed us, and
at the fair, we were given the opportunity to upgrade and add to
our collections of ephemera. The weekend of March 16-18, 2001 was
We scheduled six people to present papers at our conference. This
year's talks were far ranging and included papers on Atlantic salmon
fishing ephemera, how illustrations on rewards of merit cards influenced
the design of Shaker inspirational drawings, the role paper ephemera
plays in exhibitions at the Strong Museum in Rochester, New York,
ephemera associated with miniature golf, and ephemera that Henry
David Thoreau's would have personally known about.
In addition, Michael Twyman, compiler of the recently published
Encyclopedia of Ephemera, offered his insights on the collecting
and use of ephemera as we enter the new Millennium. Michael came
to us after a week of teaching a course on ephemera at Rare Book
School at the University of Virginia, and after Ephemera 21, he
returned to his home base at the University of Reading in England,
where he oversees the Centre for Ephemera Studies.
fair--open to the general public on Saturday, the 17th, from 10
a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.--included 65 dealer
members, each with is or her own special offerings. This year the
society expanded its dealer pool by inviting vendors who had not
exhibited before by offering them a special membership package.
We look forward to their presence at future fairs after their initial
participation at Ephemera 21. As in years past, society members
received a 10% discount on entrance, as well as an opportunity for
early admittance on Saturday at 9 a.m.
Over the years we have appreciated the support of our members from
England and Canada who have exhibited their ephemera at the society's
fairs, given talks, and otherwise taken part in our annual program.
In an effort to make Ephemera 21 even more international, we organized
a special exhibition package that was designed to draw greater participation
from our non-American friends. Every member of the English and Canadian
ephemera societies was contacted about Ephemera 21, either personally
or through a special membership mailing, and we are thankful for
their interest and for taking part this year.
the first time, we offered an opportunity for members, as well as
the general public, to bring parts of their collections to the fair
for appraisal. Based on the popular public television program, "The
Antiques Roadshow," we billed our program as "What's it
Worth?" The public was invited to bring in their family papers,
documents, and paper collectibles for appraisal on Saturday, the
17th, between noon and 4 p.m. Representatives from Swann Galleries,
a New York City auction house that specializes in the sale of rare
books, manuscripts, prints, and ephemera, were on hand to offer
their evaluations. We also called upon society members and fair
exhibitors for assistance.
welcomed Light Impressions as our special sponsor of Ephemera 21.
The firm, an archival supply house that sells products for collectors
to use to house their ephemera and library collections, gave out
special gift certificates along with its catalogs.
The special highlight of Ephemera 21 was our Cabaret. It was held
on Saturday evening and featured Barbara Meyer Darlin and her program
"Arsenic and Tight Lace: Beauty Secrets of La Belle Époque."
The Cabaret began at 7:30 p.m. with a cash bar. Society members
then enjoyed a wonderful buffet dinner followed by Barbara's show.
At times, we may have wondered, but none of us is old enough to
have experienced the lengths to which women would go to make themselves
more beautiful. As a human paper doll, Barbara revealed her foremothers'
secrets and demonstrated the laborious task of dressing in full
evening attire for a ball, including all her undergarments and body
shapers. What made her program so memorable was that she asked the
audience for help with her laces and hooks as she got herself ready.
See you next year at Ephemera 22, time and place to be announced!
E. Richard McKinstry
[This article originally appeared in the Northeast
Journal of Antiques & Art.]