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Philip Jones Fellowship for the Study of Ephemera: Apply by December 1 The ESA is currently inviting applications for the Philip Jones Fellowship for the Study of Ephemera. This competition, now in its thirteenth year, is open to any individual or organization for the study of any aspect of ephemera, defined as minor (and sometimes major) everyday documents intended for one-time or short-term use. The study must advance one or more aims of the Society:
To cultivate and encourage interest in ephemera and the history identified with it
To further the understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of ephemera by people of all ages, backgrounds, and levels of interest
To promote the personal and institutional collection, preservation, exhibition, and research of ephemeral materials
To serve as a link among collectors, dealers, institutions, and scholars
To contribute to the cultural life of those who have an interest in our heritage as a nation or a people, both nationally and internationally
Previous projects include developing a curriculum to help teachers use ephemera to interest children in the history of different cultures, and a study of The Negro Motorists Green Book, demonstrating how black Americans adapted to the interstate highway system in an age of segregation. Applications are due December 1. For details, click here.
Steam Engines, Ephemera, and Steam Engine Ephemera: ESA’s 2019 Mid-Year Meeting. From left: Joe Gourd (Winfield IL); John Kemler (Alma MI); David Kemler (driving tractor); Dick Sheaff (President, Bethel VT); David Lilburne (Vice-President, Garrison NY); Robert Dalton Harris and Journal editor Diane DeBlois (West Sand Lake NY); Bruce Shyer (President emeritus, Oakland CA); Barbara Loe (Conference Chair, Osprey FL); Tamar Zimmerman (Board member, Cambridge MA); Glenn Mason (Board member) and Judith Mason (Portland OR); Michael Peich (Board member) and guest Diane Peich (West Chester PA). Photo by Marybeth Malmsheimer (Administrative Director, Cazenovia NY). Not shown: Board members Barbara Charles (Washington DC) and Henry Voigt (Wilmington DE).
Looking Back: 2019 Mid-Year Meeting in Ann Arbor
In October, ESA members joined the Board for a two-day ephemera-immersion tour of Ann Arbor and environs. Thursday, October 17, they headed north to the town of Alma, where John Kemler keeps his legendary collection of trade cards and Victorian Christmas cards, and his brother David restores historic Michigan-made farm equipment with the help of a library of antique factory drawings and trade catalogues.
Day two unfolded on the University of Michigan campus. The morning was spent touring the William L. Clements Library’s renowned American history collections, the afternoon
(Left) A 1973 poster from the Joseph A. Labadie Collection; a similar event would not be beyond imagination today. (Below) A cache of children’s ephemera at the Kemlers’.
(Above) Early playing cards in the Americana collection at the University of Michigan’s William L. Clements Library. (Right) A large 1839 broadside, also from the Clements Library.
with two fascinating archives at the Hatcher Graduate Library: the Joseph A. Labadie Collection documenting anarchists and the history of social protest movements, and the Janice Bluestein Longone Culinary Archive. In the evening, bookseller Garrett Scott welcomed the group to his shop of rare books and ephemera.
On Saturday, Board members buckled down for their actual mid-year meeting, but it was back to the ephemera trail on Sunday at the annual Lansing Antiquarian Book & Paper Fair.
For more, read Diane DeBlois’s Mid-Year Meeting photo-travelogue by clicking here. Diane gives considerable credit to Barbara Charles for organizing the event. “In addition to all the tours,” says Diane, “there was plenty of opportunity to enjoy one another’s company. These mid-year ephemera forays into different parts of the country are valuable not merely for the enjoyment and education of the attendees — who are, in a sense, ambassadors for the Ephemera Society — but, by bringing together collectors, dealers, librarians, curators, and enthusiasts, they allow us to participate in the building of cultural capital for ephemera.”
Quest for a Quaker Puzzle: Can You Help? Attention, ESA members: Dr. Janet Moore Lindman, Chair of the History Department at Rowan University, needs your assistance. For a book on Quakers in the antebellum era, she is seeking an example of a puzzle made from an allegorical map created in England by American Friend George Dilwyn in the 1790s. Versions of “A Map of Various Paths of Life” (detail below; London: Darton and Harvey, 1794) appeared in the United States by the 1820s; at some point in the 19th century, it was made into a “puzzle map,” described in 1916 as a “forgotten Sunday game” played by Quaker children. So far, she’s been unable to locate such a puzzle. Do you know of one, or can you suggest a possible repository? Please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ephemera 40: Women Challenging Expectations
The 2020 ESA Conference — March 27, 2020 — Old Greenwich CT
Countless women have challenged social expectations to accomplish great things in the arts, humanities, politics, science, sports, and the military. Ephemera 40, our 2020 ESA conference, will focus on women’s achievements around the world and over the centuries — contributions that are too often overlooked. Speakers will cover an array of these contributions, using ephemera (advertisements, posters, menus, correspondence, tickets, etc.) to tell their stories.
Friday’s lectures are followed by a packed weekend — a banquet, two auctions (silent and live), exhibits, our annual all-members meeting, and, of course, our justly famed Ephemera Show. Stay tuned for registration details and profiles of this year’s speakers!
Support your ESA!
1. Brother, Can You Spare Some Time?
Your Society’s structure now includes a number of important functioning committees addressing our priorities, mission, and needs. Each committee is chaired by a Board member and welcomes participants from the general membership. Three especially vital committees are seeking volunteers: Membership, Fundraising, and Dealer Relations. For more, please contact ESA President Dick Sheaff at email@example.com.
2. Experience the Wonders of Technology
Amazon provides a way to support the charity of your choice by purchasing through AmazonSmile. You’ll find the exact same shopping experience as Amazon.com, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to your favorite charitable organization. No fuss involved! Go to smile.amazon.com to learn more.
3. Last, but Not You-Know-What
We welcome the more traditional kind of donation, too! To give through our website, click the pink button on our “Support” web page, here.The Ephemera Society of America, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization certified by the IRS.
At Poster House: Beefcake, the Women’s March, and the Japanese Red Cross On January 21, 2017, across the U.S., people of all types joined the Women’s March. Waving homemade posters addressing immigration, environmentalism, civil rights, and women’s issues, they became part of a long tradition of protests and persistent action in the quest for equal rights. On view through January 5 at Manhattan’s newest museum, Poster House,20/20 Insight: Posters from the 2017 Women’s March examines how today’s demonstrators arm themselves with symbols from poster history, borrowing the power of existing ideology while crafting new meaning. Also on exhibit through January 5 is Baptized By Beefcake: The Golden Age of Hand-Painted Movie Posters from Ghana, which explores how movies, economics, and religion mixed in the 1980s and 90s to inspire larger-than-life graphics in the West African republic. A mini-exhibition, Posters of the Japan Red Cross Society, can be viewed through mid-February.
Golden Age posters from Ghana combine indigenous and Pentecostal symbology with the influence of Western commercial graphics portrayed on VHS and PAL box covers. From left: Leonardo, Predator, 1993. Alex Boateng, Jason Goes to Hell, 1994. Joe Mensah, Hundra, 1993. All via Ernie Wolfe Gallery.
J. D. Salinger, Unbound Bruce Shyer reports: Ephemera is the foundation of J. D. Salinger, Unbound, an exhibition at the New York Public Library that assists in unveiling the personality of the notoriously secretive author. Exhibits (on view through January 19) include a letter from Salinger’s mother masquerading as a book publisher accepting a Salinger manuscript, a lawsuit affidavit by Salinger against the publication of a fake interview, family photos showing his tender side, pages from his spiritual journal, correspondence with Ernest Hemingway, a letter to a fan characterizing him as a “‘good boy,” and the original typescript of The Catcher in the Rye. Chosen by Salinger’s widow and his son, the 200 letters, manuscripts, photographs, books, and personal effects have never before been shared with the public. For an overview, read the New York Times article here.
Posing Beauty At the Delaware Art Museum, Posing Beauty in African American Culture explores the contested ways in which African and African American beauty have been represented, both historically and today, through photography, film, video, fashion, advertising, music, and the internet. Through January 26, 2020.
The Art of the Beach Boys Wouldn’t It Be Nice to get an exclusive look at the visual artifacts of America’s favorite rock ‘n’ roll band — and shop for ephemera at the same time? Those attending the Boston Book, Print, and Ephemera Showon November 16 (satellite show to theBoston International Antiquarian Book Fair,November 15-17) will have free access toThe Art of the Beach Boys, a compendium of album and magazine covers, promo photos, concert posters, sketches and unused artwork, rare foreign pressings of LPs and 45s with designs that differ from the U.S. versions, and fan-produced tributes, all tracing the band’s evolution from teenage surf minstrels to psychedelic avatars. November 16 only.
Civil War lots abound inCowan’sFall American History Premier Auction (November 15), such as a pair of previously-unknown tintypes of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and First Lady Varina Davis, circa 1860 ($40,000-$60,000). This rare, detailed daguerreotype of slavery on a small farm in rural Georgia, carefully posed to display the owner, his family, and their “wealth” — ten slaves and a modest house — is believed to be the earliest known image of enslaved African Americans with cotton ($100,000-$150,000).
Upcoming at Swann Galleries
The lure of faraway climes will be strong at Swann’son November 14, when Rare and Important Travel Posters go on the block. Two are particularly evocative. In the first, self-taught artist Kenichi Kuriyagawa captures the breathtaking clarity of the heights around Kamui Lake in this 1955 poster ($800-$1,200). Second, what bluebells are to April in England, the beloved yellow wattle is to Australia. You can almost smell their sweet scent in this hitherto unknown railway poster by James Northfield, circa 1925 ($4,000-6,000).
Upcoming at Potter & Potter Auctions Step right up! Potter & Potter’s November 16 Circus, Sideshow, & Oddities sale includes nearly a thousand vintage circus posters, along with costumes, model circus trains, sideshow banners, and relics of the “believe it or not” variety (such as Tootsie the Five-Legged Dog, a well-preserved example of the taxidermist’s art; $1,000-$1,500). Spanning more than 150 years, the offerings range from this elaborate 1847 menagerie poster with woodcuts of animals ($4,000-$6,000) to “Ravi The Bendable Boy from Bombay,” a 2004 banner flown at the Coney Island Sideshow ($500-$1,000).
Upcoming at University Archives
University Archives’ sale of Stellar Manuscripts, Rare Books, and Apollo-Related Items (November 5) truly holds something for everyone. (For instance, randomly choosing a letter — let’s say C — you’ll find lots relating to Castro, Caruso, Cosmonauts, the Transatlantic Cable, and the Panama Canal). There’s also a silver plaque that Commemorates the launch of the first Air Mail pick-up and delivery system in 1939, when pilots borrowed the techniques of dive bombers to drop a sealed mail pouch and retrieve another suspended between two forty-foot poles in one pass. The plane’s crew then hauled in the mail and sorted it for distribution at the next stop. Estimate: $300-$400.
Upcoming at PBA
On November 7, PBA Galleriesholds an Art and Illustration auction with original artwork, prints from old masters to the Bauhaus, rock posters, and collectible children’s books. Rick Griffin’s psychedelic Jimi Hendrix poster with the “Flying Eyeball” design (influenced by 1950’s auto detailing art) is one of the classics, expected to bring $5,000-$8,000. Also, check out the auction of Rare Books & Manuscripts with Miniature Books and an Alcoholics Anonymous Collection on November 21.
Upcoming at Heritage Auctions
Heritage is busy as usual, holding sales of Animation Art on November 27, Movie Posters on November 23-24, Comics on November 21-24, and Space Exploration material with the Neil Armstrong Family Collection, Part IV, on November 14-15. Bob Dylan fans are in luck: The November 16-17 Entertainment and Music Memorabilia auction serves up some great posters, such as this late-60s “Blowin’ in the Mind” head shop poster by Martin Sharp, and this 1965 concert poster autographed by both Dylan and Joan Baez. No estimates given.
Diane DeBlois Reports on the Mid-Year Meeting, October 17-20
Alma, Michigan. Some collections need more room than others; the Kemler brothers are proof. “Down on the farm,” David Kemler showed us his collection of steam engines and the agricultural machines they pulled, firing up the one most recently restored (apple wood fire; roaring steam whistle). Now retired after working as an art teacher and a railroad engineer, David restores machines following original blueprints that his father was able to buy. In his home, he opened one of the fireproof boxes holding his huge collection of advertising for the Advance Threshing Machine company. A personal album revealed his lifelong fascination for these behemoths. In contrast, his brother John’s vast collection of antique Christmas and trade cards can be confined (more or less) to binders and boxes, which he freely shared with his visitors.
From top left: 1. David Kemler firing up the steam engine. 2. Admiring the steam whistle. 3. Where possible, David keeps the original decoration when he otherwise paints a machine under restoration. 4. Cover of the 1893 Advance catalog. 5. David leaning against one of his restored threshers. 6. A warm welcome from John Kemler. 7. Delving into John’s collection. 8. An intriguing item from the 1860s; on the back is a handwritten receipt for “washing and cleaning” a ship — 5 days labor, total cost $6.25.
Day Two The William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan. Clayton Lewis, the first curator of graphics at The Clements Library (since 2002) gave us an overview of the library’s history, beginning with the personal collection of William Clements, a graduate of the University of Michigan in engineering who earned a fortune with the Panama Canal project. Mr. Lewis and Emiko Hastings, curator of books, and Jayne Ptolemy, curator of manuscripts, had laid out many examples of their varied collections for us — both in a meeting space and upstairs in the elegant reading room. Joining our group that day were Barbara Charles and Bob Staples and their friend Joan Morris, a singer who had once recorded songs from music sheets in the Clements collection (Her memoir Let Me Sing and I’m Happy has just been published by the Pendragon Press). Also joining us was Len Walle of the Daguerreian Society who showed an image he knows to have been the model for a lithograph, “The Sailor’s Lament.”
From top left: 1. David Lilburne, Diane and Mike Peich, and Judith Mason look over some of the treasures. (William Clements himself, in oils, watches from a gold frame overhead.) 2. John Dann, a member from Dexter MI and the ESA’s 2004 Rickards medalist, was head librarian at The Clements for 40 years. In his honor, John Fitch’s 1785 map was purchased and donated to the library. 3. The map itself. 4. Evidence of an 1863 “match.com” situation. The manuscript collection has the entire correspondence, beginning with a newspaper ad, between a soldier in the field and the young woman whom he did finally marry. 5. Evidence of 1860s desire to make news more personal and immediate (similar to social media today) with images. Here the writer sends sketches of a Colorado store he is building, complete with an attic “with mice that skedaddle in the dark.” 6. A homesick man asked for a souvenir in 1860 — and was sent a lock of his cat’s fur. 7. Humorous map by William Emerson Baker, 1876. 8. Several items concerned the death of a Miss Lamb in June 1853. Here, the itemized undertaker’s bill, paid by Lemuel Lamb, including expenses at Laurel Hill cemetery, Philadelphia. 9. The receipt for a daguerreotype taken of the deceased at her residence. 10. The post-mortem daguerreotype.
The Hatcher Graduate Library, University of Michigan. ESA Board member Henry Voigt and his wife Julie also joined us and discovered some campus ephemera at the library’s main desk: pronoun buttons demonstrating the new gender awareness, and a pocket card in English and Arabic showing increased sensitivity to Constitutional rights. On our way across campus, it seemed appropriate that several students were canvassing for a Michigan Governor’s initiative to ban styrofoam. At 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 examples. Labadie’s collection came to the University in 1911 in the form of archived material from his printing business. He was an anarchist and a friend to labor — and the curators have acquired protest ephemera of all persuasions to add to his collection. Jan Longone’s collection consists of fifty boxes of menus and other ephemera arranged by subject. Both collections have been ‘mined’ for dissertations, documentary films, and regional research.
From top left: 1. Current ephemera offered gratis at the library circulation desk. 2. Scrapbook of 1920s donation stamps to support the Industrial Workers of the World. 3. Support for Chelsea Manning, 2013. 4. Feminist poster by Women Graphics Collective, Chicago, 1971. 5. WWII recipe pamphlet from General Motors Frigidaire Dept., Longone Collection. 6. Flyer for Joseph Labadie as a speaker: “poet, writer and thinker.” 7. An “Impeach Nixon” poster that folds into a mailer.
Evening refreshments at Garrett Scott’s shop. Garrett, an ESA member and a full-time book and ephemera dealer, welcomed us to his shop, where everyone found at least one item to add to their collections. Below, Garrett at his desk adding up ephemera purchases; Diane Peich, Tamar Zimmerman, Barbara Charles, and Marybeth Malmsheimer browse in the background.
November 4, San Francisco CA. Lecture organized by the Book Club of California: “The Lore & Lure of Literature on Early Yosemite Tourism.” Register here. November 7, San Marino CA. Lecture organized by the Book Club of California: “The Lore & Lure of Literature on Early Yosemite Tourism.” Register here. November 9, Palo Alto CA: Friends of the Palo Alto Library Unusual Paper Ephemera and Collectables Sale.www.fopal.org