The definition of Ephemera comes from the Greek ‘epi’ (about) and ‘hemeris’ (day). Basically the “stuff about the day.” Ephemera is pronounced ‘efem’mera’ . The contempory definition of ephemera is, ‘something short lived or transitory’ especially all types of paper documents both printed or handwritten produced for a specific purpose and normally intended for disposal.
Paper Ephemera has been well documented in John Lewis’ 1962 book, ‘Printed Ephemera’, (the 20th century Bible of Ephemera) where John documents Ephemera from as early as the 16th century to present times.
Ephemera is a relatively new area of collecting, and the definition is still under some discussion. The current generally accepted definition is the collecting of any man made paper object that is created with no intention of permanence. If it is made of paper, and most people would throw it away after use, then it is ephemera. Examples include magazines, newspapers, comics, certificates, old maps, old letters,sports cards, postcards, & even photographs.
It was Maurice Rickards who first articulated the definition now accepted by ephemerists the world over as: “the minor transient documents of everyday life.” And more than ever today, ephemera is being used by amateur and professional genealogists as a major tool in researching family histories.
You never know where those notes, scribbles, to”to-do” lists will end up someday.
More about Maurice Rickards
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