Samuel Pepys Welcome to The Ephemera Society Website
Image News Image About Us Image Membership Image Events Image Links Image


Ephemera Events & Exhibitions

  • Ephemera Society Special Fair 2015

  • Sunday · 6 December
  • Holiday Inn London Bloomsbury
  • Coram Street
  • London WC1N 1HT
  • United Kingdom
  • All are welcome · Entry £3 · 11am - 4pm
  • Members from 10am with membership cards

  • Ephemera Society Special Fairs 2016

  • Sunday · 22 May · 4 December
  • Holiday Inn London Bloomsbury
  • Coram Street
  • London WC1N 1HT
  • United Kingdom
  • All are welcome · Entry £3 · 11am - 4pm
  • Members from 10am with membership cards



  • Bloomsbury Book Fair 2016

  • For the small fairs in 2016 the Ephemera Society will be joining up with the Bloomsbury Book Fair run by Kim Jeffery of Etc Fairs
  • Sunday · 14 February · 10 April · 10 July · 9 October
  • Above dates will have exhibitors from the Ephemera Society
  • Royal National Hotel
  • Bedford Way
  • London WC1H 0DG
  • United Kingdom
  • 10am - 4pm · Entry £2 until 12.30pm, free thereafter
  • More information:


Huntley & Palmers: A Christmas Selection

30 November 2015 – 8 January 2016

Advertising sheet, about 1900

This seasonal display shows off some of the visual delights in the University of Reading's extensive colourful archive of local biscuit manufacturer Huntley & Palmers.

The archives cover the period 1837-1995 and consists of documentary materials from all areas of the business, including financial records, correspondence, sales records, promotional material, production records, packaging designs and specimens, photographs and published material.

  • Staircase Hall
  • Museum of English Rural Life
  • University of Reading
  • Redlands Road,Reading
  • Berkshire, RG1 5EX
  • UK
  • Image:© Reading Borough Council (Reading Museum Service)


Samuel Pepys: Plague, Fire, Revolution

20 Nov 2015 – 28 March 2016

Detail from John Hayls's portrait of Pepys

Pepys was one of the most colourful and appealing characters of 17th-century Britain. Known as a naval mastermind, he was also a notorious gossip, socialite and a lover of culture, fine living – and women!

He also fought for survival both on the operating table and in the cut-throat world of public life and politics. He successfully navigated his way to wealth, power and status until his luck, intimately entwined with the King’s fortunes, finally ran out.

The emblem of The Ephemera Society represents Samuel Pepys (1633 - 1703), Secretary to the Admiralty and celebrated diarist.

Described by the society’s founder, Maurice Rickards, as “the first general ephemerist”, Pepys's collection embraced trade cards, board games and labels as well as ballads and other street literature.


Joyful Anticipation: Advent Calendars in Europe

Until 17 January 2016

This exhibition for Advent and Christmas-tide gives an insight into one of the largest museum collections of advent calendars in the world.

Cover of Advent calendar

With around 200 calendars on display, it explores the specific characteristics of the advent calendar and its development, both in Europe as a whole and in Germany in particular. Supplementing this overview are twenty-four special display-points featuring selected calendars and particular aspects of the Advent season.

One theme of the exhibition is people who have a special relationship with advent calendars, perhaps as designers or users. Another is particular European Advent traditions: the figures of “Zwarte Piet" and “the Krampus", who accompany St. Nicholas on his rounds, for example.

One unusual featured calendar is the so-called “Abreiss-Advent" from the year 1989, in which the Berlin Wall could be “torn down" in 24 days. To mark this exhibition, Juliane Hackbeil has created a “Berlin Advent Calendar" with the Museum Europäischer Kulturen in the foreground.

Inside detail of Advent calendar
  • Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz
  • Lansstraße 8 / Arnimallee 25
  • 14195 Berlin
  • Germany


  • Advent Calendar book: DAVID - The Shepherd Boy
  • Front cover and inside calendar detail
  • Story told by Elizabeth Goudge, illustrations and painting by B.Biro
  • Published by Hamish Hamilton Ltd, London WC1
  • Mid 20th century
  • There is a numbered door or window for each of the 25 days to Christmas. Open one each day. If you put the picture against the window or lampshade the light will shine through and add to the effect.


In pursuit of beauty: modern guides to the hair, face,
and body, 1784-1933

Detail from Pompeian Company beauty leaflet

Until 10 January 2016

From the earliest days of publishing, readers have sought guidance on enhancing their appearance.

This display showcases the Bodleian's rich collection of beauty guides, supplemented by advertisements and artefacts from the John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera.


Night Shift - London after Dark

Until 10 April 2016

Image of PosterWhen the sun sets and the moon rises over London the city gradually takes on a character and the Night Shift begins.

The introduction of gas and electric street lights at the end of the 19th century brought significant change to the night time streets of London and with it new opportunities for pleasure seekers and greater demands from night workers travelling to and from the city.

The Night Shift exhibition delves into the dark side of transport in London and explores the power of publicity and the world of the night shift over the last century.

Eye catching transport posters highlight the rise of the West End and the growth of the leisure economy, whilst archive photographs and films document the development of transport to meet the needs of Fleet Street and other night workers. Wartime Tube sheltering, the burgeoning nightclubbing scene and hard hitting safety campaigns bring the story up to date and cast new light on the contemporary 24 hour city.


War in London

Until 27 April 2016

Image of Bus conductress This new exhibition at London Metropolitan Archives reveals the effects of five conflicts on Londoners and their city, from the English Civil War to the Cold War.

In the year of the 100th anniversary of the Zeppelin air raids of the First World War, and the 75th anniversary of the London Blitz during the Second World War, this exhibition uncovers historical manuscripts, maps, photographs and films that tell us about the destruction of the city, the threat of imminent invasion and the heroism of ordinary Londoners.


Consuming Passions: Luxury Shopping in Georgian Britain

Until 31 December 2015

Image of exhibition banner

The Georgian age, an era of wealth, industry and empire, saw consumerism – the appetite to acquire, to possess, and to display – becoming an increasingly important social and economic phenomenon. Greater numbers of the aspiring middle classes saw their disposable income increase and shopping for luxury items became a way of displaying one’s status in society. The selection and purchase of goods was transformed into a pleasurable pursuit in its own right and shopping became a fashionable leisure and social activity for both sexes.

Image of 18th century trade card

Consuming Passions: Luxury Shopping in Georgian Britain seeks to explore the world of luxury consumption and Georgian polite shopping in the eighteenth century. Focusing on luxury objects and commodities – such as those required to furnish, fill and decorate homes in the latest taste, to clothe and accessorise, to entertain or simply satisfy the desire for the novel, a significant component of the exhibition will look at the retail experiences and shopping practices of wealthy Georgian Society.

  • Fairfax House
  • Castlegate
  • York YO1 9RN
  • UK
  • Illustration:18th century trade card for Maydwell and Windle's Cut-Glass Warehouse, London


Bawdy Bodies: Satires of Unruly Women

Until 26 February 2016

Image of poster

Characterised by comically grotesque figures performing lewd and vulgar actions, bawdy humor provided a poignant vehicle to target a variety of political and social issues in eighteenth-century Britain.

Bawdy Bodies: Satires of Unruly Women explores the deployment of this humorous but derisive strategy toward the regulation of female behavior. The exhibition presents satirical images of women from a range of subject categories including the royal family, aging members of fashionable society, disparaged mothers, political activists, gamblers, medical wonders, artists, performers, and intellectuals.


Gillray's Ghost

Until 17 January 2016

Image of cartoon

James Gillray, The Plumb-Pudding in Danger, 1805

An exhibition of caricatures of James Gillray and cartoonists inspired by him to mark the 200th anniversary of his death.

Known as 'the father of the political cartoon', Gillray was a brilliant satirist who used his work to call the king, prime ministers and high-ranking generals to account.

Born in Chelsea in west London, he started out as a letter-engraver before being admitted as a student in the Royal Academy. He continued engraving in order to support himself while studying, producing caricatures under fictitious names. These works enjoyed huge success – crowds would gather to examine them from his publisher's shop window – and it is now thought as many as 1700 caricatures can be attributed to him.


Fashioning Philadelphia: The Style of the City, 1720-1940

Until 4 March 2016

Image of US trade card
Trade card for J E Caldwell & Co - Jewelers, Silversmiths and Importers,
902 Chestnut St, Philadelphia. Easter 1880. Printed by Marcus Ward & Co.

Home to modest Quakers, prosperous free blacks, well-heeled international transplants, and working classes of all sorts, Philadelphia was once the country's most cosmopolitan city.

In addition to being known for stylish residents, Philadelphia gained a reputation as a manufacturing powerhouse by the 19th century. Called the “Workshop of the World,” the city supported countless manufacturers producing goods used in the fashion industry. Tanneries, ironworks, and mills made the leather, metal, and cloth that a thriving community of shoemakers, tailors, and milliners fashioned into parasols, hoop skirts, shawls, and hats.

To tell this particular story, Fashioning Philadelphia draws on the Library Company's rich collections of historical materials. Among many other items, it includes several portraits of Benjamin Franklin ("Philadelphia's first fashionista"), hand-coloured fashion plates showing men and women wearing the latest styles, tailoring patterns, contemporary views of Chestnut Street, interior views of the Stetson hat factory, architectural renderings of major department stores, and small artifacts such as 19th-century sunglasses and ladies' boots.

By showing depictions of Philadelphians from all walks of life, from prosperous free African Americans to the labouring poor, gang members to Quakers, the exhibition also presents a social history of the city, and of urban America in general, as it changed over two centuries.

  • Library Company of Philadelphia
  • Houghton Library
  • Louise Lux-Sions and Harry Sions Gallery
  • 1314 Locust Street
  • Philadelphia, PA 19107
  • USA


Spotlight – Freemasons and entertainment

Until 13 February 2016

Image of poster

During the 1700s, as Freemasonry grew in popularity, it began to attract new members from increasingly diverse social backgrounds. Masonic lodges had always attracted men whose work could take them anywhere in the country, such as mariners and merchants, who would find security and friendship within the fraternity. The stage was no different and throughout the 1700s, there are many examples of members of the theatrical or musical professions enjoying or seeking membership of lodges. The 1800s saw the development of “class lodges”, which were lodges for men with a common interest, background or occupation.

In 1863 Maybury Lodge No. 969 was formed for freemasons connected to the Royal Dramatic College in Woking, a home for retired actors. This was the first of many lodges associated with the theatrical profession that would open in the next 100 years.

This exhibition examines over twenty lodges associated with theatre, music and entertainment from lodges for Victorian pantomime stars in London’s Drury Lane to musical hall Bohemians in Birkenhead.

Throughout the exhibition you will also find items relating to many theatrical and musical “stars” of their time; ventriloquists, actor managers, the original Charley’s Aunt, music hall and vaudeville comedians, composers and conductors, a star of the silent screen and two rock music legends.


Show Me The Money:
The Image of Finance, 1700 to the Present

Until 24 January 2016

Image of print

This exhibition asks: what does ‘the market’ look like? What does money really stand for? How can the abstractions of high finance be made visible? Who is finance for?

The exhibition charts how the financial world has been imagined in art, illustration, photography and other visual media over the last three centuries in Britain and the United States.

The project asks how artists have grappled with the increasingly intangible and self-referential nature of money and finance, from the South Sea Bubble of the 18th century to the global financial crisis of 2008.

The exhibition includes an array of media: paintings, prints, photographs, videos, artefacts, and instruments of financial exchange both ‘real’ and imagined. Indeed, the exhibition also charts the development of a variety of financial visualisations, including stock tickers and charts, newspaper illustrations, bank adverts, and electronic trading systems.

Show Me The Money demonstrates that the visual culture of finance has not merely reflected prevailing attitudes to money and banking, but has been crucial in forging – and at times critiquing – the very idea of ‘the market’.

  • Image: Detail from Midas, transmuting all, into paper (1797) by James Gillray
  • The People's History Museum
  • Left Bank
  • Spinningfields
  • Manchester M3 3ER
  • UK


Ephemera - minor transient documents of every day life