Cultivating Membership

The Ephemera Society made itself known on the West Coast earlier this year as part of the San Francisco Antiquarian Book, Print, and Paper Fair, January 31 and February 1, 2004. The event, which was held at the Fort Mason's Center Festival Pavilion, included nationally known exhibitors from the western United States, Canada, and Europe, featuring antiquarian and rare books, prints, maps, posters, autographs, photographs, and ephemera, dating from the 7th to the 21st centuries.

Society members John Grossman and Valerie Jackson Harris, proprietor of Quadrille, a shop on Portobello Road, London, and an active member of the English ephemera society, gave talks. John spoke about American ephemera in general, illustrating his presentation with selections from his own collection, while Valerie entitled hers "Selected Techniques in the Production of English Ephemera;" she repeated her session on March 19 at Ephemera 24, the society's annual conference and fair. Both talks were very well received.

Valerie also prepared an exhibition, showing ephemera from her collection of English materials, and Bruce Shyer, a Society member from nearby Oakland, did another on American ephemera.

Nic Ricketts, president, and Ron Stegall, past president, manned the Society's booth at the San Francisco fair. Extolling the virtues and benefits of membership and showing off Society publications, they recruited thirteen new members. Judging from the positive reception the Society received at the fair, we anticipate and look forward to adding many more members from the Coast in the coming months and years.

In addition to welcoming new members in San Francisco and other places, the Ephemera Society is pleased that so many people are finding out about us through our web site and joining online. The site made its debut four and one-half years ago at the end of 1999. Over the years it has grown from just a few pages to dozens, having sections on a variety of topics of ephemera.

Early in 2004, the site was redesigned, keeping its content while taking on a new look. It has been simplified, including all the content from before, but organized in an easier to understand way. For example, the earlier site contained a section on the bibliography of ephemera under the heading "What is Ephemera?". Now, "Bibliography" is a heading all by itself. Likewise, our online store is easier to find with two places to access it on each page. Where we used to have a "News and Articles" section, we now have two separate sections, one for "ESA News" and another for "Articles."

We also went from green to red hue as our signature color. This, coupled with some strategically placed color bars separating segments of the page, creates a crisp looking site.

If readers are interested in comparing the two sites check out the old one at The Wayback Machine, which bills itself as an Internet Archive, at Just type in the Society's URL and pick a date.

Anyone interested in seeing exhibitions on the Society's web site can look at displays highlighting trade cards, read an article on online exhibitions at the American Antiquarian Society, and via the links page visit many online shows elsewhere on the Internet. The site's bibliography section includes writings on ephemera, and there are a number of articles on ephemera that have been fully reproduced from other places. Read Will Shortz's article on crossword puzzle ephemera, several articles that originally appeared in LLA Bulletin on ephemera from Louisiana, Lee Finley's article on goldfish imagery on trade cards, and many more.

Want to see the web sites of fellow Society members? Navigate to the members links page. Want to read about Society activities for the past five years? Go to the News section. Interested in the kind of presentations that have been made at Society conferences? Go to Conferences. Ephemera 21 is represented quite well with many colorful illustrations.

Other Society members continue to spread the word about ephemera. Pamela Franzmeier and Kathy Alpert were quoted in an article in the latest issue of Bark, which bills itself as the "modern dog culture magazine." The piece includes vintage holiday greeting cards with images of dogs. Richard Sheaff, a stamp designer and art director for the U.S. Postal Service, was featured in an article in the New York Times on the digital techniques used to create the art of postage stamps. Most stamp artists working today use software to create their designs. Hopefully, their readers will investigate the world of ephemera further, become hooked, and join the Society.

E. Richard McKinstry
Past President

[This article originally appeared in the Northeast Journal of Antiques & Art.]

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