The 2019 Mid-Year Pilgrimage to Ann Arbor, Michigan

The Ephemera Society’s mid-year forays into different parts of the country are a valuable outreach. ESA members and Board members who participate are, in a very real sense, ambassadors for the Ephemera Society. By bringing together collectors, dealers, librarians, curators and enthusiastic fellow-travelers, we actively promote and encourage the building of relationships between different sectors of the ephemera world. In addition to several behind-the-scenes looks at great ephemera, there is always plenty of opportunity to enjoy one another’s company. This year—as always—a good time was had by all.

This year Day One was a family affair: John Kemler opened his home and his outstanding trade card collection. We were warmly welcomed by his family . . . brother Dale—a collector himself, wife Kris, daughter Katie, and son Nathan who is a curator at the Grand Valley Museum. John has been collecting for over 40 years, and credits Bob Stoker with stimulating his interest. We browsed his 150 organized albums of trade cards, and were repeatedly rewarded by the sight of wonderful items. A fine family lunch was served.

We then drove to brother David Kemler’s nearby farm, where he showed us some of his collection of steam engines and related agricultural machines. Dave fired up the smoothly running traction engine he had most recently restored (apple wood in the firebox, and a piercing steam whistle). In his home, he shared his huge collection of advertising for the Advance Threshing Machine company. His early childhood drawings revealed his lifelong fascination for such mechanical behemoths. A talented artist, retired after a career as an art teacher (and as a railroad engineer), David restores machines following original blueprints his father had acquired.

Day Two first took us to the William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan. Clayton Lewis, who became the first curator of graphics at the Clements in 2002, gave an overview of the library’s history beginning with the personal collection of William Clements, an engineering graduate of the University of Michigan who made his fortune with the Panama Canal project. Emiko Hastings, curator of books, and Jayne Ptolemy, curator of manuscripts, laid out exceptional examples from their collections for us to savor. Joining us was Len Walle of The Daguerreian Society and the National Stereoscopic Association, who showed a daguerreotype which was the model for a lithograph, “The Sailor’s Lament.”

Our new visit was to the University of Michigan’s Hatcher Graduate Library. On campus students were canvassing for a Michigan initiative to ban styrofoam, and at the library’s main desk ever-vigilant ephemerist’s collected gender awareness buttons and pocket-sized cards in several languages stating basic Constitutional rights. In Special Collections, Julie Herrada, curator of the Joseph A. Labadie Collection of protest ephemera, and Juli McLoone, curator of the Jan Longone collection of food ephemera, had spread out representative items. Labadie’s collection came to the University in 1911 in the form of archived material from his printing business. He was an anarchist and sympathetic to labor, and the Hatcher curators have added much subsequent protest ephemera to the collection. The Longone collection consists of 50 boxes of menus and other ephemera arranged by subject. Both collections have been ‘mined’ on campus for dissertations, documentary films, and regional research.

Day two wound down with some shopping at Garrett Scott’s book shop. Garrett, an ESA member and full-time book and ephemera dealer, offered much interesting material, and several acquisitions were made.

Day Three was an all-day Board of Directors meeting.

Day Four Offered a choice: several folks visited The Lansing Antiquarian Book & Paper Fair, while some others sought out a photography collectors show in Romulus.

At John Kemler's . . . 

At David Kemler's . . .

At the Clement's Library . . .

At the Hatcher Graduate Library . . .

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At Garrett Scott's . . .