New Dates Added for Ephemera & Rare Books Shows

Check out the Ephemera & Rare Book Fairs page
for new listings.

Also if you haven’t checked out the 9 Miles of Ephemera & Antiques facebook page lately, there is a new Etsy shop link to 9 Miles of Wonder on Etsy with discounted prices for FB friends.

Enjoy & Happy hunting!

Edging towards 300 Likes on FB


I am about to break the 300th “like” mark on my 9 Miles of Ephemera & Antiques FB page and so I am having a refer a friend contest.

Simply “like” on my page or tell your friends you like 9 Miles of Ephemera & Antiques.

The lucky person who joins as number 300 will win a 50% off coupon to my Etsy shop

And< if you refer the 300th person, you will receive a 25% off coupon.

Tick-tock…only 8 likes to go.

Cheers to a great day!


Passport Collector’s Paradise

Passport collector

For those interested in collecting passports and travel documents this is the site for you:

Started by a passionate passport collector in 2005, this site is a great resource for buying and selling passprots and travel documents. Complete with a comprehensive database of travel documents, you will find tons of great info on this Ephemera niche.


New Exhibition about Historical Ephemera Opening at the Library Company of Philadelphia

Contributed by Erika Piola, Library Company of Philadelphia

Del Valley

Remnants of Everyday Life: Historical Ephemera in the Workplace, Street, and Home highlights the Library Company’s vast collection of ephemera from the 18th to early 20th century. With materials ranging from throw-away items to finely printed works, Remnants of Everyday Life considers the cultural impact of advancements in mass production technologies. The exhibition will address the evolution of the graphic design of ephemera; the gendering of ephemera associated with the home, such as scrapbooks; the changing nature of leisure activities and consumerism over the course of the 19th century; and the life-cycle of commercial ephemera between the workplace, street, and home.

Remnants will exhibit broadsides, playbills, fliers, postcards, trade cards, tickets, menus, World’s Fair souvenirs, labels, stereographs, albums, scrapbooks, paper dolls and other ephemeral toys and games, and advertisements. Specific examples include the 1897 billhead for Mrs. Henrietta S. Duterte, an African American undertaker and possibly the first female embalmist in the country; examples of Victorian-era paper bags, including the then novel “Square Bag” patented in 1872; the seminal 1870 printing manual Typographia, which broke new ground for commercial graphic design—and one of the first illustrated circus posters issued in 1828.

The Library Company has one of the largest, most important and most varied collections of early American ephemera in existence. In Spring 2012, the Library Company completed a two-year project to arrange, catalog, and selectively digitize nearly 30,000 pieces of 18th- and 19th-centry ephemera funded by the National Endowment of the Humanities.

An outgrowth of this project, Remnants of Everyday Life, curated by Visual Culture Program co-Directors Rachel D’Agostino and Erika Piola, is on view from Monday, May 13, through Friday, December 13, 2013. The conference Unmediated History: The Scholarly Study of 19th-Century Ephemera co-sponsored by the Library Company’s Visual Culture Program (VCP at LCP) and The Ephemera Society of America scheduled in conjunction with the exhibition will be held September 19-20, 2013.The exhibition and its accompanying programming are supported by funds from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Philadelphia Cultural Fund.


New Record Set for Sale of Handwritten Letter

A Handwritten Letter Sells for a Record $6 Million-Plus

– By Michael Stillman
Francis Crick’s “Secret of Life” letter to his son.

On April 10, the highest price ever paid for a letter at auction was achieved at Christie’s in New York. If there was any doubt about the growing interest in more ephemeral sorts of works on paper, this should help put it to rest. At over $6 million, or 3 to 6 times the estimate range, there was no shortage of serious interest.

The letter itself is something of a surprise. It was not from one of the great world leaders, a Lincoln, Churchill, or Napoleon. It was not from the most famous of scientists, a Galileo, Kepler, or Newton. It was not even very old, written just sixty years ago. The writer only died in the last decade, his partner and the recipient are still living (and attended the auction). While his name is well-recognized in the scientific community, if you interviewed people on the street and asked who Francis Crick is, most would probably respond with blank stares. What we now know about him is that, along with being a great scientist, he wrote a letter worth $6 million. Obviously, he is more important than the typical man on the street realizes.

For those who have forgotten, Francis Crick, along with his partner, James Watson, discovered the nature of the DNA molecule. To put it more bluntly, they discovered how physical characteristics, and life itself, is transmitted from one individual to another. They were first to understand how the DNA molecule could copy itself, and thereby transmit life to another. Crick and Watson had been working on models of the DNA molecule, trying to break the code. On the last day of February, 1953, they had their voilà moment. They suddenly realized how everything must fit together within the molecule for it all to work.

Crick was not shy in recognizing its importance. He announced to others, only “half-jokingly” as Watson would later write, that they had found “the secret of life.” The two spent March busily constructing models to get it down right, and began to prepare a paper they would submit to Nature magazine on April 2 announcing their discovery. It was during this period that Crick would write his $6 million letter. It was not directed to a fellow scientist or researcher. Instead, it was sent to a 12-year-old boy. That boy was Michael Crick, Francis’s son, off at boarding school. Crick regularly explained such things to his son, who was interested in secret codes, so this clearly would have fascinated him. In his letter, Crick explains as clearly as possible what has been discovered. This is the first known written explanation of the discovery, and probably the only first account of such a major scientific discovery to conclude with the line, “Lots of love, Daddy.”

Francis Crick begins his letter modestly with, “Jim Watson and I have probably made a most important discovery. We have built a model for the structure of des-oxy-ribose-nucleic-acid (read it carefully) called D.N.A. You may remember that the genes of the chromosomes – which carry the hereditary factors – are made up of protein and D.N.A. Our structure is very beautiful.” He goes on to say, “…we think we have found the basic copying mechanism by which life comes from life.” He also explains in more detail how its reproduction works, and even provides a crude drawing of their double helix model. Crick promises to show the model to his 12-year-old son when he comes home.

The importance of the discovery and the significance of this letter was well understood by Christie’s. Its existence has long been known, it carrying the sobriquet of the “Secret of Life” letter. They slapped an estimate of $1 – $2 million on it. Not even they were prepared for what happened. By the time the bidding stopped, the price had crossed the $6 million mark (including commissions). The final price was $6,059,750. The letter was purchased by an unnamed buyer who placed a bid by telephone.

The auction included only two other items, both relating to Crick, and both easily surpassing estimates. An early 1950s four-page manuscript notebook, estimated at $4,000-$6,000, sold for $21,250. A pencil drawing of Crick by his wife, Odile, estimated at $8,000 – $12,000, went for $17,500. Odile Crick was an artist, though she is best known for her drawing of the double helix used by her husband and Watson.

Reprinted from

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..

Giving New Life To Old Paper

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