Report on Ephemera 22

The Society's annual meeting for 2002 took place at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Greenwich, Connecticut, March 15-17.

Leading off the event was our conference, featuring six papers on such diverse topics as bookmarks, the ephemera generated by Philadelphia merchant John Wanamaker, paper ephemera collections at the Hagley Museum and Library, the history of Carnegie Hall through its ephemera, the achievements of Charles A. Lindbergh told through ephemera associated with his life, and digitizing ephemera collections.

In addition, there were four exhibitions. "What are These Little Beauties?" was a show devoted to poster stamps, 1880-1945. Charles Kiddle organized it, and he covered many topics that have been advertised and illustrated over the years by poster stamps, including French aviation, American businesses, World War II, expositions, ships, transportation, and the list goes on. As well, he showed several poster stamps about poster stamps.

Ephemera Society member Nancy Rosin curated a show on Valentines entitled “Esther Howland: Mother of the American Valentine,” showing selections from Howland’s Worcester, Massachusetts, shop. The exhibit displayed the variety and range of her products and included an illustration depicting the making of the cards.

Charles and Nancy did double duty by hosting collector's forums on their specialties.

A third exhibit highlighted almanacs, spotlighting several special publications: a temperance almanac from 1845, a German language one from 1861, and the tried and true farmer's almanac dating from 1836.

"Telegraph Tunes" showed illustrated sheet music, including a tune from 1880 called "I am a Western Union Telegraph Boy," by Herbert Spencer.

For the first time in recent memory the society held a benefit auction, raising more than $6,200 to support the educational programs of our organization. Members very generously contributed items, and an illustrated catalog listing most of the pieces that were scheduled to be on the block was circulated to membership in advance of the auction. Bidding was at times spirited, and we thank Swann Galleries, an institutional member, for organizing the event.

There were more than 50 lots, including materials that came in at the last minute. Those individuals wanting engravings and lithographs of images by William Blake, a manuscript archive of diaries kept by New Yorker Harry Hopkins in the 1850s and 1860s, items from the World's Colombian Exposition of 1893, and a Maud Humphrey calendar were poised to bid. More recent items were a Mao Tse-Tung panoramic calendar with thirteen portraits of the Chinese leader, a typed letter signed in 1970 by Lord Mountbatten, and scrapbook of signatures from political figures-including Harry Truman and American state governors-from 1949.

At Saturday night's banquet society president Ron Stegall presented the Maurice Rickards Award, named after the founder of the English ephemera society and author of the recently published Encyclopedia of Ephemera. It is given to recognize lifetime achievements in ephemera collecting, study, exhibition, and conservation. Cal Otto received the award. Cal was one of the founders of the American ephemera society, serving in various official capacities over the years, including president and chairman of the board. He has discussed the importance of ephemera on Vermont public television, team taught an ephemera course at Rare Book School at the University of Virginia, organized exhibitions, written about ephemera, and chaired the Virginia Festival of the Book.

There were 75 dealers at the ephemera fair, which was held Saturday, March 16 from 9 AM-5PM and Sunday, the 17th, 11 AM-4 PM. Thanks to the interest of our new promoters, Tina and John Bruno, proprietors of Flamingo Promotions, we had 20% more dealers than last year. They came from as far away as London, England, as close as New York City. Posters, broadsides, poster stamps, letters, photographs, illustrated billheads, prints, maps ... you name it and it was available.

We welcomed over 40 new members during the weekend; many signed up in order to be admitted to the special members-only show, and dealers new to the fair joined to support the society. We also welcomed two corporate supporters: Swann Galleries and Collectibles Insurance. There were two appraisal sessions, and we featured a conservation workshop. Finally, President Stegall announced that the Ephemera Society would be taking part in the forthcoming meeting of the American Association of State and Local History, scheduled for later in the year in Portland, Oregon. A panel of speakers will be extolling the virtues of ephemera collecting and study.

E. Richard McKinstry
Past President

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

   © 2011 The Ephemera Society of America