Ephemera Inspiration

I have caught the Ephemera bug! No it’s not some tropical disease but a passion for collecting old printed or written material.

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Ephemera is defined as items designed to be useful or important for only a short time, for example pamphlets, notices, coupons, tickets etc. The irony that these items were never meant to be retained or preserved but are now eagerly sought after by collectors is not lost on me!

Taken for granted in their time, worthy of only a fleeting (if any) appreciation, each of these ‘throw away’ items is now a fascinating little slice of history and design. I wonder, if in years to come, people will collect our computer generated tickets, receipts and other printed papers with the same fervour?

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So where do you go to start collecting ephemera? There is, of course, eBay which is a great source of ephemera but nothing beats the thrill of rummaging through odd and ends at the sharp end of a car boot fair or antique & collectors’ fairs. However finding ephemera at these fairs is a bit hit or miss so I visited an Ephemera Fair in London which was a lot of fun.

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Some sellers had all their ephemera neatly sorted and packed in individually priced see-through bags but the ones I liked best were those who had cardboard boxes overflowing with loose scraps of prints, maps, pages from old books, leaflets and adverts etc. Prices ranged from £1 to hundreds.

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I have a few ideas for incorporating some of these items into my printmaking and I am in danger of getting hooked on this addictive pastime. Watch this space!

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