Using a broad definition ephemera, or anything ephemeral, is something that is transitory – receipts to recipes, rain puddles to rainbows. However, for our purpose, ephemera is referring to more than 500 categories of everyday paper artifacts intended for short time use.
Using our definition, think about what is included on the list; baseball cards, blotters, and billheads, magazines, maps, and menus, photographs, postcards, and pamphlets: the serious (first edition books and presidential autographs) to the quirky (cocktail napkins and beer coasters), that’s a lot of territory. Collectors usually concentrate on one or two areas or a group of related areas. For example, someone who collects Breweriana may splash over into collecting whiskey labels.
Why bother with stuff that flows too easily from hand to trash, as most of it was intended?
Some of the allure for collectors is the nostalgia: discovering a forgotten memory, or being invited back to relive a special one. Some of the allure is the pure esthetics of timeless design with which much ephemera is endowed. For others, ephemera is a gateway back to life far removed from the present, through decades or centuries old, newspapers and magazines. As broad as a topic it is, that’s as many reasons people collect and write about it.
For more information visit The Ephemera Society of America website.