Synopses & Reviews
The joy of finding an old box in the attic filled with postcards, invitations, theater programs, laundry lists, and pay stubs is discovering the stories hidden within them. The paper trails of our lives -- or ephemera -- may hold sentimental value, reminding us of great grandparents. They chronicle social history. They can be valuable as collectibles or antiques. But the greatest pleasure is that these ordinary documents can reconstruct with uncanny immediacy the drama of day-to-day life.
The Encyclopedia of Ephemera is the first work of its kind, providing an unparalleled sourcebook with over 400 entries that cover all aspects of everyday documents and artifacts, from bookmarks to birth certificates to lighthouse dues papers. Continuing a tradition that started in the Victorian era, when disposable paper items such as trade cards, die-cuts and greeting cards were accumulated to paste into scrap books, expert Maurice Rickards has compiled an enormous range of paper collectibles from the obscure to the commonplace. His artifacts come from around the world and include such throw-away items as cigarette packs and crate labels as well as the ubiquitous faxes, parking tickets, and phone cards of daily life.
As this major new reference shows, simple slips of paper can speak volumes about status, taste, customs, and taboos, revealing the very roots of popular culture.
EPHEMERA IS THE PLURAL FORM OF THE GREEK WORD EPHEMERON (EPI = ON, ABOUT, ROUND; HEMERA = DAY). LITERALLY, IT REFERS TO SOMETHING THAT LASTS THROUGH THE DAY, OR, AS MAURICE RICKARDS PROPOSED, THE MINOR TRANSIENT DOCUMENTS OF EVERYDAY LIFE, ALTHOUGH NOT EVERY ITEM OF EPHEMERA CAN BE REGARDED AS TRANSIENT OR EVEN MINOR. COLLECTIVELY THE MANY ENTRIES IN THIS FORMIDABLE NEW REFERENCE WORK PROVIDE A BETTER DEFINITION OF EPHEMERA, SINCE THEY INCLUDE MANUSCRIPT AND PRINTED MATTER (SPORTS PROGRAMS, ENVELOPES, VISITING CARDS, BALLOTS), RECORDS OF THE PAST AND PRESENT (NEWSPAPERS, CIGARETTE CARDS, SEED PACKETS, RATION PAPERS), ITEMS DESIGNED TO BE THROWN AWAY (BUS TICKETS, PAPER BAGS, FRUIT LABELS), AND TO BE KEPT (BOOKMARKS, PLAYING CARDS, BOARD GAMES).
THIS LAVISHLY ILLUSTRATED LANDMARK VOLUME IS INTENDED FOR SOCIAL HISTORIANS AS WELL AS COLLECTORS OF EPHEMERA WHO TAKE A BROADER VIEW THAN THEIR OWN SPECIALIST FIELD.