Ephemera/28 Conference

Diane DeBlois, Robert Dalton Harris Earn the Maurice Rickards Award

When they were presented with the Society's Maurice Rickards Award during Ephemera/28, it became clear that it would almost be easier to list the things Diane DeBlois and Robert Dalton Harris haven't done to improve the world of ephemera than what they have.

The notes that Board of Directors member Richard Sheaff had compiled filled two single-spaced pages. They have, Sheaff said, "done everything desirable in a Rickards Award candidate."

"Diane and Robert have spent decades exploring meanings, relationships, and insights gathered from information found on pieces of paper," Sheaff began. "They have done important research. They have published. They have helped others build collections, and they have always shared their knowledge and insights most willingly—and they have done it all with warm smiles upon their faces. They are special people."

The couple met when Diane's car broke down and Robert happened to be the good Samaritan who stopped to help. While the car was being repaired, she learned about his passion for learning everything he could about 18th-century American postal routes. After she returned to her native Canada, in thanks she sent him a family journal of the Indian War. He refused to keep anything so valuable, and, perhaps because he know so much about the mails, insisted on delivering it in person.

As Sheaff said, a partnership was born.

As researching dealers for nearly 30 years, they have worked with institutions such as the Smithsonian and National Gallery of Art. They published the quarterly PS for 15 years, and participated in symposia for the Smithsonian, The Business History Conference, The International Economic History Conference, the French Post Office, the American Library Association, and others.

They've contributed regular columns and articles to the Postal History Journal (which they co-edit), the Journal of Empire State Postal History, Book Source Monthly, Bookman's Weekly, the American Philatelist, Scott's Stamp Monthly, U.S. Stamp News, and many others. They've also edited or contributed to the Society's Ephemera News and Ephemera Journal.

Each has worked hard for the Society and has manned a booth at all 28 of the Society's annual conferences and paper fairs. They also have arranged the programs for several conferences, including the one just past. And when they offer a presentation of their own, they use an almost seamless back and forth dialogue—the same "format" they chose to accept this year's Maurice Rickards Award.

"We feel both humble and proud to join the group of Rickards medalists—the writers of the definitive books, the builders, curators, exhibitors of the great collections," they said. "But we're especially pleased to join our mentors as dealers: Sam Murray and Rocky Gardiner.

"As ephemerists, we celebrate the stuff of daily life: banal stuff, mundane stuff, quotidian stuff. Stuff furnishes us, individually and collectively, with moral compass to navigate the constellations: our markets, our symposia, our lives. A rousing toast to the stuff!"

Conference Schedule and Speakers

9 a.m. - 5 p.m. — Board of Directors' meeting, Belle Haven conference room.
6 p.m. - 7 p.m. — Board reception for early arrivals. Join old and new friends, and be fresh for the conference that begins Friday morning.

Two morning conference sessions:
Roundhill Room

9:30 a.m. Friday, March 14
Keynote: Collecting Outside the Box
Jeremy Rowe

Jeremy Rowe has collected and researched photographs for 25 years, writing Arizona Photographers 1850-1920: A History and Directory and Arizona Real Photo Postcards: A History and Portfolio, as well as curating exhibitions with many regional museums. He worked with the Library of Congress American Memory project, a digital historic photographic collection, and manages vintagephoto.com. His presentation uses images from several photographic modes to show how the “black box” of the camera documented the evolution of Arizona from territory to statehood, while photography itself shaped public perception of Arizona and the West.

Jeremy is the Executive Director of the School of Computing and Informatics at Arizona State University, and works in 3D modeling and visualization to blend historic materials and new technologies.

10:30 a.m.—Noon Friday, March 14
Panel of Academics with Unusual Collections: Papermaking, Rulers, Politics, and Holiday Letters
Sidney Berger, Beth Carroll-Horrocks, Thomas Horrocks, Susan Strange

Sidney Berger has been collecting papers and things related to papermaking and the paper industry for more than 35 years. His doctorate in Medieval English Literature and Bibliography led him to collect anything having to do with the history of books and manuscripts. He is the Ann C. Pingree Director of the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA.

Beth Carroll-Horrocks's collection of rulers, begun in 1987, currently numbers more than 5,000 items in a variety of formats, sizes, shapes, and dates, but with a concentration on paper rulers. Special collecting categories include Philadelphia- and Boston-area advertising; Smokey the Bear; fish measurement; books, libraries, and museums; peter meters; multi-use rulers; objects made from or decorated with rulers (including fabric and clothing); edible rulers; social or health causes; the metric/anti-metric campaign; Benjamin Franklin; and ruler “jokes.” She is the Director of Archives at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, in Cambridge, MA.

Thomas A. Horrocks has a scholarly interest in politics in 19th century America. But his collection of 19th century presidential campaign biographies (winners and losers) breaks traditional bounds of ephemera when it comes to the thousand items about William McKinley. He is Associate Librarian for Collections of Harvard's Houghton Library.

About 10 years ago, Susan B. Strange decided holiday letters are today's version of the once-common diary and are therefore worthy of being collected. Thanks to family and friends, she now has a private collection of approximately 2,000 letters from 1948 to the present. She is a reference archivist at the Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.

Lunch Break — noon – 1:30

Two afternoon conference sessions:
Roundhill Room

1:30 p.m. Friday, March 14
Treasure of the Steamboat Arabia
Elizabeth Isenburg

In 1856, Steamboat Arabia left St. Louis headed for the Upper Missouri River when it struck a snag and sank near Kansas City. By 1991, the Steamboat Arabia Museum, a repository for its cargo, opened it doors—reawakening the stories about consignees who lost merchandise, now considered artifacts. When Elizabeth first viewed the collection, she was surprised by the cargo of English china and champagne heading west.

Elizabeth Isenburg is a social historian, and became keenly interested in history through her father's stories and by participating in living history programs. 

2:30 p.m. Friday, March 14
Collecting a Collector: FDR, the Philatelist
Anthony Musso

Franklin D. Roosevelt's intense involvement as a stamp collector, especially during his years of public service, brought a new sense of credibility to a hobby once considered trivial and best suited for children. As president, FDR appointed his campaign manager James A. Farley as the 53rd Postmaster General of the United States. FDR also began to assume many duties of high-ranking postal officials, personally reviewing and approving more than 200 stamp designs–and designing two—during his terms of office. FDR's direct impact on stamp collecting was so influential that the $300,000 a year generated by the post office in philatelic sales when he assumed office had increased to nearly $2 million by 1945.

Tony Musso, an avid philatelist, has worked for the United States Postal Service for 37 years and has, as a public affairs manager, been involved with numerous programs and events to promote new stamp releases. In addition to his 2006 book, FDR and the Post Office, he wrote Setting the Record Straight, a book on the music of the 1950s and 1960s. He is a weekly columnist for the Gannet Newspapers' Poughkeepsie Journal.

Also Friday:
• 2:30 p.m. — Dealer Set-up
• 5 p.m. — Collectors' Forum:

Scrapbooking 101 Using Ephemera with Nancy Rosin. Scrappers and artists will hear how to blend traditional and digital, learn to blur the line between old ephemera & new technologies. Nancy is a Valentines expert, and she has created five books for  scrapbooking, which include CD-ROMs, using her collection.

• 8:15 a.m. — Memberships will be sold at the Ephemera Society desk at the entrance to the show in the Grand Ballroom.
• 9 a.m. — Members-only show preview ($10) for the Society's 28th Annual Paper Show in Grand Ballroom. Please have your membership card available.
• 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. — Exhibits open, Winthrop:

• The Hudson-Fulton Celebration, Al Fink's Collection
The 1909 Hudson-Fulton Celebration was intended to be an International Exposition, but lack of funding dictated no permanent site with buildings and all the other required trappings. Instead, a flotilla on the Hudson River highlighting replicas of the Half Moon and the Clermont retraced Henry Hudson's journey from New York City to Albany. It was sponsored by New York State and focused on being educational and not commercial.

• College Broadsides, Peter Zinman's Collection
Peter collects all printed materials concerning the hazing of freshmen by sophomores and other inter-class rivalries. The material spans the post-Civil War era to WWII and includes broadsides, photographs, letters, newspaper articles, and postcards. Many broadsides, ranging from 9 inches to 40 inches, are written satirically in the style of late 18th century broadsides (e.g., Oyez! Oyez!; STOP! LOOK! LISTEN!), proclaiming the rules for incoming freshmen.

• Ephemera-Inspired Greeting Cards, Diane Zumsteg's Collection
Diane is a San Francisco artist who uses original ephemera to inspire collage pieces, not for commercial distribution but for personalized gifts.

• 10 a.m. — General public entry admission is $12. ($1 off with any Ephemera/28 ad.)
•  Noon - 2 p.m. — Appraisals by John Bruno, Flamingo Eventz (near Society desk at show entrance)
• 2 - 3 p.m. — Collectors' Forum: The Care and Treatment of Early Ephemera and Books with Babette Gehnrich, Chief Conservator at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, MA, and her husband, Daniel, a book and paper conservator in private practice in Paxton, MA.
• 5 p.m. — Show closes; reopens 11 a.m. Sunday.
• 6 p.m. — Cash Bar & Magic outside Mead ABC

• 7:15 p.m. — Annual Banquet  —  A seated banquet in Mead ABC, followed by a presentation, Scraps Toward a History of Pets in America, by Katherine Grier, from Winterthur Museum's Office of Advanced Studies. Presentation of the Maurice Rickards Award to Diane DeBlois & Robert Dalton Harris will follow.

Dinner reservations are required. A conference registration and banquet reservation form is attached. Please detach at the dotted line and return with your check to ESA Conference, PO Box 95, Cazenovia, NY 13035. Dinner reservations must be received by Friday, March 7th.

8:30 a.m. — Members annual meeting, Roundhill Room

Two morning conference sessions:
Roundhill Room

9 a.m. Sunday, March 16
A Panel of Beginning Collectors and Their Search for Russian Design, Type Specimens, Chinese Spirit Papers, and College Broadsides.
Jared Ash, Doug Clouse, Evelyn Khoo, Peter Zinman

As curator of the Judith Rothschild Foundation from 1997 to 2002, Jared Ash developed a collection of Russian avant-garde books, periodicals, and related works that was donated to the Museum of Modern Art in 2001. In the years after the Revolution of 1917, avant-garde artists in Russia accepted a call to radically transform the look of Soviet society. By the mid-1920s, the geometric patterns and bold, decorative typography associated with Russian Constructivist design found its way to a wide-range of printed paper forms, from ration cards and candy wrappers, to shareholder certificates and state lottery tickets. Jared is a librarian in the Special Collections Division of the Newark Public Library.

Doug Clouse's Master's thesis of 2007 from The Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts on the 19th century Philadelphia type foundry of MacKellar, Smiths & Jordan was awarded a Clive Wainwright Award for best thesis. He was drawn to ephemera as evidence of the more unusual type specimens he studied for a book project, completed with Angela Voulangas,  Freaks of Fancy, Artistic Printing and the Ethics of Ornament.

Evelyn Khoo's fledgling collection of Chinese spirit papers is contemporary ‘joss' collected from her home country of Singapore in Southeast Asia. These papers, burnt in Chinese religious festivals as ‘money for the dead,' range from the more traditional red ink and mulberry paper printed with images of deities to the more ‘modern' versions such as joss cell phones and credit cards. She is a Graduate Assistant in the Conservation Unit of the University of Maryland Libraries.

Peter Zinman collected his first college broadside while an undergraduate at Dartmouth. He collects all printed materials concerning the hazing of freshmen by sophomores and other inter-class rivalries. Visit Peter's exhibit in Winthrop. Peter is a graduate also of NYU School of Law and Columbia Business School, and is a business executive in Manhattan.

10 a.m. Sunday, March 16
Ben-Hur: a Prototype for Commercialization
Jon Solomon

Ben-Hur was not just one of the best-selling novels of the 19th century. It became the prototype for the successful commercialization of popular consumer art. From the late 1880s until the 1930s, producers and businessmen created Ben-Hur products ranging from regional corporations to retail items. Ben-Hur's chariot became a veritable logo for a number of products and brands. What is known of the commercialization of Ben-Hur is the result of collecting and studying thousands of examples of ephemera.

Jon Solomon, Novak Professor of Western Civilization and Culture, and Professor of the Classics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has specialized in teaching large lecture classes, introducing ancient civilizations and their influence to more than 20,000 undergraduates With The Ancient World in the Cinema (Barnes; Yale) he helped to establish popular culture as a sub-discipline of classical studies.

• 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. — Paper Show in the Grand Ballroom.
• 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. — Exhibits open, Winthrop
See Saturday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. for details.

• 1:30 - 2:30 p.m. — Collectors' Forum:

Exhibits, Their Construction & Philosophy with Jane Goodrich, of Saturn Press, which uses graphics from ephemera on its card & stationery line, and Art Groten, who believes exhibits are a significant way to encourage both collectors and non-collectors to look at material in a new way.

• 4 p.m. — Ephemera/28 closes.

Thanks to our Corporate Supporter
Swann Galleries, Inc.

   © 2011 The Ephemera Society of America