The Ephemerist Magazine – it’s more than just “stuff”

Anyone who has found themselves at home during the day for long enough will have ventured into the daytime TV treasure trove of shows likeStorage Hunters, American Pickers, or — for something a little more classic — the familiar format of Antiques Roadshow. But, where those shows excel in the giddy thrill of revealing an item’s surprising monetary value (or, better still, lack thereof), The Ephemerist Magazine is more concerned with revealing the even more surprising histories of the items themselves.

As the quarterly journal of the Ephemera Society, editor Sara Chapman uses the magazine to showcase unexpected items that ‘reflect the moods and mores of past times in a way that more formal records cannot.’

Read on for Chapman’s guide to The Ephemerist Magazine — and a little about the society itself — from graphic design to the dangers of reading.


1. Ephemera — isn’t it just stuff?

Ephemera is often referred to as the ‘minor transient documents of everyday life’ (Maurice Rickards). It can be leaflets, handbills, tickets, trade cards, programmes and playbills, advertising inserts.

It can also be napkins, matchboxes, tattoos, paper bags… it is a word to cover the thousands of different types of documents produced to meet the needs of the day; often a side story to the official documentation.

2. More than meets the eye.

Such items reflect the moods and mores of past times in a way that more formal records just can’t.

Collectors of printed ephemera vary in their approach: some focus on the ephemera of a particular trade or profession, others are interested in its social or graphic history, others love evocative reminders of the past. Students of design and typography tend to appreciate the pre-computer aesthetic and craft of ‘the old stuff.’

3. So who is it for?

The Ephemerist is the quarterly journal of the Ephemera Society. The Society, entirely run by enthusiastic volunteers, is an authority in the field, counting among its members libraries, museums and universities, as well as dealers and private collectors all over the world.

Our journal reflects the interests of all the Society’s members, whether serious academic, collecting enthusiast, or somewhere-in-between.

4. What’s new? (So to speak.)

We think ISSUE 182 is our best since the publication’s recent redesign. We have some intriguing stories to tell through ephemera — read about the bill poster campaign to stop the vicar of Worthing shutting down the local library because the women of Worthing were too distracted by novels…


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