Above image: Reference photograph for local newspaper. Found in Monroeville, Alabama, April 2010.
I wanted to create a space on this blog where I could share pieces from my collection of paper ephemera. This collection has been accumulating for over 10 years, growing from numerous visits to garage sales, thrift stores, swap meets, estate sales, and vintage paper fairs. It is important to me to get into the habit of actively sharing the vast number of photographs, postcards, letters, magazines, maps, calendars, greeting cards, and more, that rest in my home. (It just seems a little greedy to keep them all to myself, these items never meeting another gaze other than my own). So every Wednesday of each week it is, a virtual Show and Tell of sorts, how nice!
I have been a collector of “old things” since I was a child. Growing up in the suburbs of Orange County in Southern California, where the environment around me was always being developed and never felt older than 30 years, I found myself endlessly fascinated with the world that lived in the not-so-recent past. Perhaps a part of me wanted to possess, protect, and acknowledge objects that were being threatened to be forgotten in a contemporary space, tragically lost in obscurity forever. Perhaps a part of me wanted to submerge myself deep into a romantic fantasy of the past, fetishizing a time and place I could never participate in. (Side note: Isn’t it interesting to think about deliberately putting yourself into the position of “the outsider”, in terms of time?) Whatever the reason, I have always held a “older is better” understanding, and thinking tirelessly about time, the passing of time, and my place within it.
So, what is ephemera you ask?
Ephemera / noun / e·phem·er·a / Listen to pronunciation here
Ephemera are transitory written and printed matter not intended to be retained or preserved. The word derives from the Greek, meaning things lasting no more than a day. Some collectible ephemera are advertising trade cards, airsickness bags, bookmarks, catalogues, greeting cards, letters, pamphlets, postcards, posters, prospectuses, stock certificates, tickets and zines. — Wikipedia
Historic printed ephemera tells us much about the issues, events, and ordinary people that have shaped our past. Produced in a variety of formats including broadsides, broadsheets, leaflets, pamphlets, and programs, printed ephemera is created to meet an array of immediate needs, usually transitory in nature, and is not intended to be saved. Indeed, part of the delight of working with these elusive scraps of yesterday’s “stuff” is due to the irony that it has survived to speak to us of the concerns and conditions of everyday living experienced by past generations of average people. — Library of Congress, The Printed Ephemera Collection
You may also like to peruse the Ephemera Society of America website here.
Hoping that I have aroused your interest, please come and visit next Wednesday, July 4th, for my first Wednesday Ephemera blog post!