Category Archives: Ephemera

General Posts on Ephemera resources.

Report From The New York Antiquarian Book Fair

Bookselling: The Seismic Shift

– By Bruce McKinney

The street’s were empty, the show was full

The New York Antiquarian Book Fair is come and gone, the confetti now swept up and the wine glasses washed and back on the shelf. This year the glass half full guys won out and the glass half empty crowd sent packing. Not everyone did well but many did and most saw enough success to feel the ABAA-Sanford Smith show partnership was yielding substantial returns. This year the traffic was strong and the audience ebullient. According to Catherine Zubkow who managed the fair, “attendance was north of 5,000.” More importantly exhibitors were happy and suggesting they’ll be back in 2014. Lorne Baer, the Virginia dealer whose focus is social movements and counter culture, had an exceptional fair. Collectors are collecting what they have experienced and dealers reflecting this in the material they bring to shows.

Book selling it turns out is not quite what the term implies at least in the rare book trade. Ten years ago the field was composed of sectors within the category – books, manuscripts, maps, and ephemera and all these sectors continue today. But as the recent ABAA fair in New York demonstrated dealer hopes and their emphases have shifted to the absolutely unique. What buyers want is the special and this is what dealers brought and by all accounts sold.

The handwriting has been on the wall for years. Separate manuscript and ephemera fairs have developed and continue to expand while the book fair circuit has been culled. Collectors and institutions have always wanted what’s special. At this fair it was simply clearer that the field has shifted and is replacing some of the weakness in less expensive rare books with strength in the unique and unusual – often signed copies and manuscripts. It’s logical and encouraging.

This is not to suggest that the printed word has gone AWOL Booths had plenty of books, in fact they were in the clear majority but the emphasis, when dealers had unique material, was for the folks behind the counter to suggest those items get a careful look. The emphasis was on the unique and I suspect the most asked question “what do you have that’s special?”

This makes sense for several reasons.

Just as collectors are keying on unique material so too dealers are shifting their ideas of what’s saleable. The conventional wisdom is that the unique is collectable and the common, described as two more copies than there are buyers for them, is not. It’s an over simplification but also often true. Institutions and collectors are coming to the great fairs looking for the unusual and this fair suggests to me dealers increasingly reflecting this.

From the Thursday evening preview and cocktail party on into the weekend traffic was strong and sales as always a matter of luck – the kismet of the right item, the right buyer and the right price. This time around the magic was in the air.

Per usual more than 200 dealers participated including a substantial contingent from Europe looking to escape their threadbare economies for a few days in the city that never sleeps [alone]. Hopefully they found what they came for.

For years it has seemed that for dealers there was time to dawdle, to watch and wait for an answer to the question – is this an economic downturn certain to be followed by recovery or, have we woken up to a new world? With the field now in noticeable transition and a tacit agreement emerging between buyers and sellers that is redefining their relationship best summed up this way; “what we can buy on line we will and what we can’t we’ll buy from dealers.”

So the code word going forward is what the secret password was for the fair just completed: special. Show me special. Do that and the crowds will hold up and the field return to good order.

As for what was until a few years ago the field’s bread and butter, the stock in trade rare book, such material will continue to find an audience but the price will be the subject of intense discussion. The web and databases such as the AED, available from phones, iPads and computers provide instant valuation and rarity calculations that are too accessible to ignore so increasingly dealers aren’t ignoring them and the frank discussions that then ensue are setting the table for serious collections.

After the fair I spoke with Howard of B. & L. Rootenberg about his recent experience and he agreed that manuscripts and unique copies have become the order of the day. He then mentioned a Schuyler family manuscript account book he owns from the early 19th century that’s both a good fit with my collection and an example of what book selling is becoming. And I’m interested.

So it was a very good fair. When the fair opened it was raining but inside sun and blue skies and it stayed that way all weekend. Mark Twain, as if speaking for the trade, had it right, “the reports . . .”

Reposted from

Charles Dellschau: The artist’s scrapbooks documenting the Sonora Aero Club.


Incredible collection of scrapbooks explore early flight and the mythic Sonora Aero Club through news clippings and amazing original drawings.

Charles Dellschau, a Prussian immigrant who came to the U.S. in 1853, was a butcher who lived in Houston. He spent the years between the turn of the century and his death in 1923 working on these scrapbooks, which combined news clippings, text, and art in visions of fantastic flying machines.

An art history student discovered 12 of his scrapbooks languishing in a junk shop in Houston in 1969. In all, the books contained more than 2,500 drawings. (This post on Design Observer contains many more Dellschau images.)

By deciphering the text on the books’ pages, as well as writings Dellschau left behind alongside the scrapbooks, Houston artist Pete Navarro found that the books were the records of a secret—and probably fictional—organization that Dellschau called the Sonora Aero Club. Dellschau identified himself as the draftsman of the club, which he claimed had formed during the California gold rush.

Dellschau’s history of the club recorded that one of the members had discovered a secret source of energy—called, variously, “Supe,” “NB Gas,” or “Suppa.” This energy source allowed for all kinds of experimental flight. Dellschau’s pages interspersed his airship designs, which depended on Supe for power, with collaged newspaper and magazine articles about early attempts at flight and descriptions of the club’s wild adventures.

While some UFOlogists have argued that the Sonora Aero Club was real and that sightings of flying objects around Oakland in the 1890s may have been Supe-fueled craft, no other records of the club have been found. Another investigator, William Steen, pieced together the chronology of Dellschau’s life and was unable to pin down his activities during the years of the gold rush.The organization was most likely purely Dellschau’s fantasy, stoked by the many wild, futuristic depictions of flight in the media of the time.

Reposted from article: Steampunk Before Steampunk Existed: Charles Dellschau’s Fantastic Airships, By Rebecca Onion

More about the collections can be found here

Stephen Romano, a collector and artbook dealer now owns the majority of the scrapbooks and has put out a book on the collection and story:



Charles Dellschau: The artist’s scrapbooks documenting the Sonora Aero Club..

Preserving Ephemera

Ran across this article which has some great advice about preservation and storage of your ephemera collection. Be sure to check out the link at the bottom of the post for a free eBook on ephemera preservation. Happy treasure hunting.

Most ephemera can be effectively handled by putting them in inexpensive polypropylene sheet protectors, and keeping these in a binder. The two clear sides of the protectors allow viewing of the items without destructive handling. Typically newspapers would have the relevant item cut out (either including the newspaper name, date, and page from the same sheet, or with that information noted on the retained item). Most items will fit into letter-sized protectors, but some may need some larger format.

Digital preservation is important, since the information can be better preserved and shared by having multiple backup and distributed copies. Flatbed scanners are usually the tool of choice to generate the images. 300 dpi (dots per inch) scan resolution is a good rule of thumb, although it may be more than needed for newspaper-like items. I like to name each scan file with the year, person and short subject indication. For cataloging, I usually rely on the descriptive filenames, which can be viewed and searched via the computer’s normal mechanisms. For a few kinds of items for which it seems important, I make text files with greater detail about the contents.

DON’T use the cheap plastic envelopes to keep your original paper records in. The chemicals in them destroy the contents over time. Use proper archive quality plastic envelopes if you wish to keep them in good order for future generations. – Colin Mar 20 at 7:26

I would start by investing in some (archival-quality) plastic binder pockets. For digital storage, a small flatbed scanner will get a better image, but a digital camera is also fine for recording a digital copy. Try to organize as you go (slip an article into the plastic, scan/photograph it, and then record any additional notes about it), although I would prioritize physical organization if you’re finding it overwhelming or you’re facing a time constraint.

The great thing about using binder pockets (assuming things will fit in them) is that it’s simple to:

1. take the binder to a family reunion and let everybody page through it

2. drastically reduce the possibility of damaging something while reading

3. take the collection to a library or other archive to look up vital records

4. reorganize the order

5. group by event (wedding, death, birth, etc.)

6. group pieces by family

7. group pieces by generation

8. or change your mind halfway through and switch your organization around!

Try to include your grandmother or other older relatives in the preservation process as much as possible — hopefully they will be thrilled that you’re excited about your family history and want to share all sorts of stories about the newspaper articles, photographs, etc. (Ironically, this makes the job of “family historian” harder, since you not only need to preserve the physical object, but also organize associated stories — but it is so, so worthwhile. The number of details and even new family relationships that I learned about when reading through newspaper articles with my grandmother was astounding.)

Ephemera comes in all shapes and sizes. Check out The Heirloom Registry to preserve the stories attached to ephemera found around the house. The online registry allows users to preserve and share the stories behind family heirlooms and precious belongings. You can see the Heirloom Registry sticker on the bottom of my teacup in this picture.

As another person mentioned, digital records, as simple as taking an image with your cell phone, are a good way to capture the information. I have done this with great success in photographing an old scrapbook full of newspaper clippings my grandfather made. I can zoom in and read all the text in the article clippings. The challenge with this is HOW DO YOU ADD CONTEXT AND METADATA TO A DIGITAL FILE? And therein lays the crux of your question. I would suggest that you do as the archivists would do. Assign each piece of ephemera it’s own unique identifier (number) and then in a separate document (notebook, text file or database) record the number and then all the contextual information you know about it. Like “Grandma clipped this out of the Washington Post when Aunt Mabel died” or “Cousin Grace gave Grandma this muffin recipe in 1960 – Grandma made it once, but thought it had too much baking soda, so she adjusted the recipe. She said it was Grandpa’s favorite :)”

I’ve been scanning the family photo albums and doing some acid-free repair as I go. I have a high quality flatbed scanner and have done the photos separately (both sides if there’s anything on the reverse) and transcribed any writing on the photo, photo back or page captions into the jpeg files information.

Then I set up a camera and photograph the entire album page with all photos on it. Context can be important.

After I have a set done, I put the photos up on a photoshare site (SmugMug in my case) in a private gallery so I can share them out and have an online backup of the information.

My next project is all the stories my grandmother handwrote to my siblings and I when we were children relating her growing up in Texas and New Mexico during the great depression. They are priceless to all our family.

There is now a free eBook in PDF format available from here all about preservation of records that is well worth downloading and reading imho.

Free Ebook about ephemera preservation:

An Older View of Washington State

Grainger Topographical Map of Washington State 1909





Map is 16″ x 24″

From research I have gleaned that Grainger did this map while working after college for the Washington State in putting together various projects on the geology, topography, and road materials of the state. Some of this work was collected in the Washington Bulletin of 1911, The Road Materials of Washington, by Henry Landes, assisted by Olaf Stromme and Clyde Grainger.

Soon after this project, Grainger moved on to drafting for architect Harlan Thomas in Seattle.

From Thomas’ biography with Pacific Coast Architecture Database:

“About 1910, Thomas entered into the first of several partnerships which would be the focus of his professional career thereafter:
Thomas, Russell and Rice
Thomas and Grainger
Thomas, Grainger and Thomas (with Clyde Grainger (1887–1958) and his own son, Donald P. Thomas (1898–1970)).

Among the best known of the projects of these partnerships are the Corner Market Building (1911–12) in the Pike Place Market, and (in joint venture with W. Marbury Somervell) several branch libraries in Seattle—Queen Anne, Columbia, and Henry L. Yesler (now Douglass-Truth). The best-known project of the Thomas, Grainger and Thomas partnership is the Art Deco-influenced Harborview Hospital (1929–31).

Pikes place design:
The 3-story Corner Market building (Harlan Thomas & Clyde Grainger 1912; rehabilitation by Karlis Rekevics, 1975) sits on the right as one enters the Market along Pike Street. In its early years it included daystalls, and the businesses facing onto First Avenue were open-fronted. The Three Girls Bakery, the first known business in the Corner Market, is now located in the adjacent Sanitary Market. The basement was home to Patti Summers’ jazz club for over two decades before becoming Can Can in 2006; the building is also home to anarchist bookstore Left Bank Books, as well as numerous other businesses.[139][142][143]

Following his career as an Architect, Grainger served on the Seattle Planning Commission.

In December 1951 the Wedgwood District Community Club appealed to the Seattle City Planning Commission to disapprove applications for the construction of duplex houses at 7518 43rd Ave NE and 4303 NE 77th Street. The three-man committee of the Planning Commission which took the arguments under study, was headed by architect Clyde Grainger. Grainger certainly was familiar with Wedgwood as he, along with architect Harlan Thomas, had designed Albert Balch’s original Wedgwood-development houses in 1940. Clyde Grainger lived in View Ridge one block over from Albert Balch’s own home on 50th Ave NE. By the late 1940’s Harlan Thomas had retired, but Grainger still worked at their architectural office and Grainger continued to contribute to the development of Wedgwood. In the period 1948 to 1951 Grainger’s architectural firm, which included Harlan Thomas’ son Donald Thomas, designed Balch’s office buildings from 8014 to 8050 35th Ave NE.

This piece is available on at 9 Miles of Wonder on Etsy

    Upcoming Ephemera Shows Around The U.S.

2/24/2013 –
Toronto Postcard Club 32nd Annual Show
The Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre
6 Garamond Court
Toronto, ON
View Map 10 am – 5 pm Postcard Show Admission: $7.00 ~ TPC Member admission $5.00

Maine Antique Paper Show
March 24, 8:30am to 3pm
Fireside Inn, 81 Riverside Street, Portland, ME
207 749-1717


Ephemera Society of America Conference and Fair


The Ephemera Society of America is an international organization of collectors, dealers, scholars, museums, libraries, and everyone interested in the world of paper and printing. We appreciate all aspects of ephemera, and encourage collecting, scholarship and artistry.
The Time & Place
Ephemera 33, our Conference and Fair, to be held March 15-17, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Old Greenwich, Connecticut, is THE major event for our passion. We look forward to seeing you all for the weekend. For particulars and easy registration see the panel on the right.

The Conference

This year, a special program on the theme of “Ephemera: Art and Commerce” is intended to inspire and attract people who are enamored by its aesthetics, history, and applications. The program is followed by a two-day fair with 70 leading ephemera dealers

The conference will explore the multifaceted relationship between art and ephemera. Art and ephemera “intersect” at several junctions:

Ephemera may be classified as an art object, collected and studied primarily for its beauty and design rather than for its content.

Ephemera naturally reflects the artistic style (e.g. Victorian, Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau, Wiener Werkstätte, Art Deco) of its period.

Ephemera relates to art in that we can sometimes trace the historical evolution of images appearing on ephemera (art history).

Ephemera relates to art in that over the course of history it has the transformative power to become art.

Art relates to ephemera in the similar methods that are used to create both.

Art relates to ephemera in that letterpress printers making ephemera had to develop new artistic techniques in order to compete with other methods of creating ephemera including chromolithography and engraving. These printers had to think of new “artistic” ways to use seemingly confining metal type.

Art relates to ephemera in that artists use ephemera to create art.

Perhaps the above points about art and ephemera have caused your creative juices to begin to flow. Fear not, for the conference will also provide an opportunity for participants to create art, using ephemera, under the tutelage of two well-known artisans. The materials for this adventure will be supplied.

The Ephemera Fair

Not to be out shadowed by the conference on Saturday and Sunday, March 16-17, the International Ephemera Fair with 70 select ephemera sellers from California to Maine, and Canada and England, will set up shop in the grand ballroom and promenade of the hotel, exhibiting a wide array of materials ranging from posters to friendship tokens, historical memorabilia to invitations, trade cards and manuscripts. America’s finest dealers in antique and vintage ephemera constitute an invaluable resource for collectors, researchers, scholars, curators and librarians to learn about ephemera, acquire ephemera, and make contact with ephemera collectors and dealers in a wide variety of subjects and formats. The Ephemera Fair is an essential link between collectors, dealers, institutions, and academia.

A bit of ephemera for every collecting interest. Entry to the fair is $12 for adults, Youths 12-21, $6.

The expert speakers on March 15, the Fair on March 16 and 17, and the formidable workshops on March 17, are helping to create what we believe is a landmark event for the world of printing and art and ephemera. We hope to see you there, and please share this information so that people can add it to their calendar; Greenwich is a short ride from New York City.

Digital Ephemera Stewardship

Digitial Preservation

Kristopher F. Nelson from the Library of Congress’s Office of Strategic Initiatives sent out an email this morning about a new program. We should always happy to help out the good folks at the Library of Congress–keepers of our nation’s best ephemera. And, if you want to spread the word across your social networks by linking to this post, I’m sure Kristopher would appreciate it.

The Library of Congress and The Institute of Museum and Library Services are pleased to announce that the call for applications for the inaugural National Digital Stewardship Residency (NDSR) class will begin next week.

The NDSR program will allow ten recent graduates of Master’s degree programs in relevant fields to complete a nine-month residency at various institutions in the Washington, D.C. area. The entire list of projects can currently be found on the NDSR Web site .

Institutions that will be hosting residents include:

Association of Research Librarians

Dumbarton Oaks Research Library

Folger Shakespeare Library

The Library of Congress

Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities / University of Maryland Libraries

National Library of Medicine

The National Security Archive

Public Broadcasting Service

Smithsonian Institution Archives

The World Bank

Beginning in September 2013, accepted residents will attend an intensive two-week digital stewardship workshop at the Library of Congress. Thereafter, residents will begin their experience at a host institution to work on significant digital stewardship projects. Their projects will allow them to acquire hands-on knowledge and skills involving the collection, selection, management, long-term preservation, and accessibility of digital assets.

Additional information about NDSR can be found at

NSDR has great resources for individuals as well on preserving and maintiaining your digital collections.

Application instructions will be available next week.

Reblogged from from ephemera by martyweil