What was it I said about purchasing ephemera a few days ago?
One of my specialties is books by or about American women, so when I started to look for ephemera, I decided to start with what I know — I began to look for broadsides, advertisements, pamphlets, etc. written by or about or printed by women. I decided that I would not, for now, buy other ephemera unless I found it unusual or extremely appealing.
My resolve to stick with a specialty when it comes to ephemera was obliterated almost as soon as I uttered the words “unless I found it unusual or extremely appealing”. So many bits and pieces of ephemera have a visual appeal that I just impetuously fall in love at first sight. Momentarily forgetting that ephemera was never meant to last, I am blinded by the power of ephemera’s good looks, and I succumb and buy it on the spot.
Other times, pieces of ephemera deal with parts of the past with which I am enamored. In the past weeks, I’ve purchased pieces of ephemera dealing with the following subjects — wagon making (the kind of wagon drawn by a team of horses), supplies for power plants (the development and use of electricity), San Francisco before the 1906 earthquake, 19th century education, and paper and covers used for books. I know I will enjoy researching these and putting them in historical context when I write their bibliographic descriptions. I’ll be posting them on the blog, too.
If such finds were outside of my normal specialty, then what was my criteria for undisciplined purchasing or such a disparate array of items?
Um. (I’m thinking of a good answer.)
Um. (Really I am.)
Um. ( Just a minute.)
This answer may be simplistic, the kind a rookie like me tends to give when put on the spot, but it’s true:
1) I just liked what I saw.
2) The price for what I bought was right. None of the items required a very large investment.
3) I think I can sell the items at a reasonable profit.
4) I’m willing to live with the items if I can’t sell them.
Today I’ll show you some biblio-ephemera. Might as well start with something to which we can all relate.
Here’s the first of my recent purchases. It’s an undated American trade catalogue that at first glance I would say is late 19th or early 20th century. It’s quite possible that further research will prove me wrong, but for now, here it is:
Inside the catalogue are many samples of types and colors of paper that can be used for book covers, including paper textured to look like lizard skin:
There are many other loose scraps of paper of varying textures in the catalogue.
Here’s another early 20th century catalogue (1912) that I think of as a companion piece to the cover catalogue. This one sells book paper and commercial printing paper. Here are a few images:
Why did I fall in love with this item? In this culture of electronics and Kindles and computers, a catalogue for the materials used to make and bind printed material is a reminder of the stability and enduring qualities of a book. I love that.
See you in the stacks!