Worldwide Ephemera Societies
The first ephemera society to have been established
was in England in 1975. Five years later the American society
came into being and afterward societies were founded in Canada,
Austria, and Australia. Right now nascent efforts to organize
a society seem to be taking place in France.
Other columns have featured the activities of the English and
Canadian societies. What is happening in Austria, Australia, and
The Austrian society started in 1990. Its members have a marvelous
web site (http://members.aon.at/ephemera/start.htm)
that includes a variety of features and provides news of society
activities. Clicking on its archive results in seeing thirty different
images, including examples of Austrian ephemera, images of ephemera
fairs, and short magazine articles. Another click brings the first
pages of the organization's publication, Ephemera: Journal
der Ephemera Gesellschaft Österreich. A section on regional
groups lists names, photos, and addresses of people to contact,
and there is a calendar of events.
the most interestingcertainly the most livelypart
of the web site is a video just under two minutes long showing
many kinds of Austrian ephemera and a few minutes of an ephemera
fair. Scored, with narrative and brief interviews of dealers at
the fair, the video is an inventive way to promote ephemera collecting.
The Australian ephemera society has been active
since 1987 and is not surprisingly "devoted to the preservation,
study, and display of items of a transient nature."
Its 2002 symposium, "One, Two, Buckle My Shoe
Three, Four, Ephemera Evermore," brought together
ephemerists from Down Under to hear papers on a special photo
collection at the State Library of Victoria and ephemera associated
with cricket, as well as talks entitled "Hats Glorious Hats:
Miniature Hat Collection of a Travelling Salesman" and "A
Shopping List of My Favourite Grocery Items." For those who
missed the presentations, they were summarized in a booklet distributed
With a penchant for inventive titles, another symposium
in 2002 was called "Moving and Grooving: Ephemera a Go Go."
A decade earlier, in 1991, members of the Australian
society visited an exhibition together at Monash University Gallery
that saluted the work of the many commercial and graphic artists
and photographers whose talents were used by travel companies
and government agencies to promote travel to and within the country.
That same year a member did a presentation on ephemera associated
with the recording industry, and the society sponsored fairs and
Only in Australia would there be a Wattle Day. Beginning
in the 1890s and held to celebrate the wattle in flower, over
the years it has also produced badges to commemorate activities
associated with the day, and members of the Australian ephemera
society find them collectible.
In a recent article in The Ephemerist, the
quarterly newsletter of the British ephemera society, Julie Anne
Lambert of the John Johnson Collection at Oxford wrote: The French
have long been interested in printed ephemera, the traditional
French term vieux papier (literally, old paper)
. In 1900,
a journal called Le Vieux Papier
began its publication
run, and it still exists today. More toward our time, Nicolas
Petit in 1997 issued L'éphémère, l'occasionnel
et le non livre, and in 2002, the revue of the Bibliothèque
Nationale de France was called L'éphémère.
As Julie points out, the change in terminology from
vieux papier to l'éphémère "is
as much a desire to endow printed ephemera with respectability
as it is a falling in line with Anglo-American terminology."
In addition, Michael Twyman offers a course in ephemera
in Lyon that is an offshoot of his course at the University of
Virginia's Rare Book School. As well, in 2001 and 2002, the Printing
Museum in Lyon staged an exhibition entitled Ephemera: Les
imprimés de tous les jours, 1880-1939.
Who knows who and where the bug might strike next?
In Sweden, the Royal Library in Stockholm collects ephemera as
a result of a government directive, and in 2002, librarians mounted
a highly successful exhibition there called Ephemeradet
okända trycket, issuing a 32 page color catalog to accompany
the show. A native of Japan, Prof. Yoriko Iwata of Chukyo University,
recently joined the English ephemera society, becoming the first
person to become a member over the Internet; her interest is in
Punch & Judy. Finally, Aneta Firlej-Buzon of the Institute
of Library and Information Science at Wroclaw University did her
doctoral dissertation on Polish ephemera and summarized her findings
for an article in volume X of Ephemera Journal published
by the American ephemera society.
E. Richard McKinstry