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Ephemera Events & Exhibitions

Image of Cholera notice

The A–Z of ephemera

11 November 2017 · 1 - 4pm

Members of the Ephemera Society and their friends are invited to a special viewing of The A–Z of ephemera exhibition.

As a prelude to its 25th anniversary in 2018 the Centre for Ephemera Studies at the University of Reading has organized an exhibition that picks up on the alphabetic approach to ephemera adopted by the founder of the Ephemera Society, Maurice Rickards, for his Encyclopedia of ephemera (British Library, 2000).

The exhibition highlights the two different approaches that have led collectors and scholars to become involved with the fascinating world of ephemera: what they tell us about some aspect of life, and the characteristics of the artefact itself.

Some ephemerists are excited by the particular issues raised by a document through its content or the nature of its language and images; others are attracted by the physical object, its materials, design, and production. Needless to say, the two interests frequently overlap, and it would be an unusual ephemerist who does not take account of both aspects of any particular piece of ephemera.

But whatever an individual’s interests may be, the exhibition points to the need for curators and cataloguers of collections of ephemera to cater for both approaches. With this in mind two items (or panels of small items) have been chosen to represent each letter of the alphabet. One draws attention to a subject matter or theme (e.g. A = Aviation), the other to a category of ephemera (e.g. A = ABCs).

Items have been chosen from two sources: the representative collection of ephemera assembled over a long period by Maurice Rickards, which will not now be added to, and also, in more or less equal numbers, from a parallel collection that the Centre has been building up steadily since its foundation. The items chosen from these two collections reflect very broadly the period they cover (some 250 years) as well as the languages and countries represented.

Image of dance cardThe approach adopted for the exhibition throws up some bizarre conjunctions and also demonstrates the extraordinary variety of ephemera.

Thus, under D, we see a cholera notice issued in London in 1866, representing the subject matter ‘Disease’, alongside a panel of decorative ‘Dance cards’ of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century as an example of a particular category of artefact. And under O we include administrative documents from ‘Oxford University’ in 1924 for their subject matter beside ‘Orange wrappers’ as a particular category of ephemera.

  • Department of Typography & Graphic Communication
  • University of Reading
  • 2 Earley Gate
  • Whiteknights
  • Reading RG6 6AU
  • Images:
    D for Disease: Cholera notice, 1866. 440 x 284 mm. [University of Reading: Centre for Ephemera Studies]
    D for Dance cards: a programme for a dance held at Caxton Hall by the Domestic Servants Benevolent Institution, 1907. 115 x 64 mm.


Ephemera Society Winter Fair

Winter fair

Sunday 3 December 2017

Take a break from Christmas shopping when you're in the great metropolis this December. Drop by fashionable Bloomsbury where you will discover the genteel and lovable art of collecting printed and handwritten ephemera. Divorced from the distractions of the world you will find rare, unusual and historic paper items, priced from £2 to over £2000.

The fair offers a window into the past for both the curious and the collector amongst us. Rest your gaze upon the dealers’ tables which groan under the weight of accumulated history, the collecting of which heartens and sustains brave men and women.

All are welcome to what promises to be a memorable and enjoyable day - all this for just three little pound coins! Isn't civilisation wonderful?

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



Ephemera Society Fairs 2018

Make A Note In Your Diary For Next Year

2018 fair dates
  • Holiday Inn London Bloomsbury
  • Coram Street
  • London WC1N 1HT
  • United Kingdom
  • Entry £3 · 11am - 4pm
  • Members from 10am with membership cards



The ABA Chelsea Rare Book Fair

3 - 4 November 2017

Image of WWI ArchiveHeld each autumn in the beautiful and historic Chelsea Old Town Hall, the Fair brings together more than 80 exhibitors specialising in antique books, first editions, maps, prints, ephemera and manuscripts from all over the world.

Prices begin at just a few pounds and dealers are happy to guide you, making this an accessible and exciting venue for beginning collectors or those simply looking for an extra special Christmas gift.

  • The Chelsea Old Town Hall
  • King's Road
  • London SW3 5EE
  • UK
  • More details
  • Image: WWI Archive from Voyager Press Rare Books & Manuscripts


Image of music cover

Bibliomania: Salon des Papiers Anciens

18-22 October 2017

In the region of 100 European dealers will be offering a profusion of books, handwritten and printed documents of every sort and kind for this acclaimed paper and book fair.

The metro is an easy ride from central Paris to Porte De Champerret. The theme on this occasion is Le burlesque.

  • Bibliomania
  • Paris 17ème
  • Espace Champerret
  • France
  • More details


Humble: the life of 100 small objects

Until 17 November 2017 · National Library of New Zealand

Permission to interview the Beatles, a tender message from the Western Front, an offering of choice at dinner, or an expression of outrage at discrimination. These small but effective pieces of ephemera, produced for short term use, have helped shape the lives of their owners, nurtured circles of friendship, allowed privileged entrée to rarefied company, argued for principles, persuaded and promoted, guided consumers, or rewarded merit.

Some became treasured keepsakes, while some survived more by chance than design; perhaps their small size helped them survive in a dark and neglected corner. Indeed one small card was discovered in the wall of a house more than 60 years after the event it advertised. And some have suffered damage such as a little invitation to a Wellington roller skating rink.

Toll gate ticket 1864

Luckily, all have become part of the National Library Wellington Ephemera Collection, and now have a different life, as testimony and evocation of past times. Some were likely produced in small numbers, while others have been published in their thousands. Whatever their past status they are now kept in perpetuity for their documentary value. The exhibition shows the curator's choice of 100 small objects, all measuring less than 150mm. In some, you can see how the publishers have used the latest design trends and typographic styles to appeal to their audience by visual means. Others are plain and functional.

Barbara Lyon, curator of this latest Turnbull Gallery exhibition, explains: "The exhibition should cast light on the corners of the minutiae of everyday life...items like these shed light on commonplace little things in popular culture that you don't think about keeping, and they're very familiar to you at the time. When you look back, you remember them. The exhibition draws together items that are physically small but valuable because they illuminate our history in a way that other objects don't."

  • Turnbull Gallery
  • Level 1, National Library Wellington
  • Corner Molesworth and Aitken Streets
  • New Zealand
  • More details
  • Image: Kai-Wara-Wara toll gate. Clearing ticket. 6d. 25 Sept[ember] 1864.


Life on the London Stage

Until 6 December 2017

Print of grimaldi

The curtain has lifted on this new exhibition from the London Metropolitan Archives which uncovers the lives of performers on the London stage, from the days of Elizabethan theatre to the 20th century.

Original records that document the successes of some of London’s most celebrated performers will appear alongside workhouse records, court registers and other sources. From Shakespeare’s forgotten brother to Charlie Chaplin and the stars of Music Hall, Life on the London Stage will delve into our and present a fascinating record of the lives of London’s entertainers.

Graham Packham, chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Culture, Heritage and Libraries Committee, said: "Some surprising finds and extraordinary stories have come to light during the LMA’s research for Life On The London Stage, including how Edmund Shakespeare, of whom many of us know nothing, followed his older brother to London to work as an actor. Visitors will also learn about the houses owned by Nell Gwyn, one of London’s greatest rags-to-riches stories; how music hall star, Marie Lloyd, alarmed the authorities with her routines; and Kenneth Williams’ advice about how he dealt with school bullies."

  • London Metropolitan Archives
  • 40 Northampton Road
  • Clerkenwell, London EC1R 0HB
  • UK
  • More details
  • Image: Detail from ticket for Mr Grimaldi's Night, Sadlers Wells, 1814


World War Ireland

Until 2018

In summer 1914 a war broke out in Europe that would change the world forever. In Ireland, many supported the cause and joined up or travelled to serve in nursing and auxiliary services. Others objected to the war on moral, social or political grounds. By the time the conflict ended in 1918, its impact had been felt through the length and breadth of the country.

Image of recruitment poster

World War Ireland is a free exhibition at the National Library of Ireland(NLI) that focuses on the unique aspects of the Irish WWI experience and draws on the NLI's collections of letters, diaries, recruiting posters, newspaper reports, cartoons, handbills and leaflets dating from 1914-1918. With original artefacts, first hand personal accounts and eyewitness testimony, World War Ireland brings visitors dramatically inside the lives of those who experienced WWI.


Street Fans: A Unique Liaison between Street Art & Fan Making

Opening 19 September 2017

An international cast of street artists including RUN, C215, Nathan Bowen, Dale Grimshaw, Zabou & Sr.X are teaming up with fan maker extraordinaire, Sylvain Le Guen in a bid to reinvigorate the craft of fan making, cited by the Heritage Craft Association as at ‘serious risk of no longer being practiced.’ The fruits of the collaboration – fifty original folding fans – are set to enliven The Fan Museum’s elegant Georgian interiors from September 19.

Image of fan

At different times throughout the exhibition run visitors can get up close and personal with some of the street artists participating in the project, who’ll be occupying the galleries and making new works in response to the displays. The Museum’s expert fan making tutors will also be in residence encouraging visitors to try fan making for themselves. Check the Museum’s website for a schedule of events.

  • The Fan Museum
  • 12 Crooms Hill, Greenwich
  • London SE10 8ER
  • UK
  • More details


L'Affichomania: The Passion for French Posters

Until 7 January 2018

This exhibition features approximately 50 posters by the five grand masters of the medium: Jules Chéret, Eugène Grasset, Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Alphonse Mucha.

Image: detail from poster

The posters date from 1875 to 1910, the exuberant era in France known as the Belle Époque. These pioneering artists reigned in Paris during this period of artistic proliferation, defining a never-before-seen, and never forgotten, art form.

Drawn from the Driehaus Collection of Fine and Decorative Arts, the posters on view feature such iconic images as Steinlen’s Le Chat Noir and Lautrec’s Moulin Rouge: La Goulue. Each of the five artists will be featured in one of the period galleries in the Museum, allowing guests to explore the artists’ individual style and compare them with their contemporaries.

  • The Richard H. Driehaus Museum
  • 40 East Erie Street
  • Chicago, Illinois 60611
  • USA
  • More details


Poster Girls: A century of art and design

Opening 13 October 2017

Image of poster

Girl power comes to Covent Garden when Poster Girls - a major new exhibition about 20th and 21st century female graphic artists opens at the London Transport Museum in the autumn of 2017.

Poster Girls will highlight some of the key female artists who have designed for London Transport and Transport for London including Dora Batty, Herry Perry, Laura Knight, Anna Zinkeisen, Margaret Calkin James and Freda Lingstrom.

The artists and featured work will be examined and contextualised by both the era in which they lived and worked and their style, looking at influences both from within the design community and from the wider world.

As well as stunning original posters from London Transport Museum’s collection, Poster Girls will include accompanying material such as letters, ceramics, photographs and original artworks.

  • London Transport Museum
  • Covent Garden Piazza
  • London WC2E 7BB
  • UK
  • More details


Posters and Patriotism: Selling WWI in New York

Until 9 October 2017

Image: detail from poster

When the United States entered World War I in April 1917, New York City's artists and illustrators were enlisted in the war effort. Many of them worked for the federal government’s new Division of Pictorial Publicity.

Posters and Patriotism: Selling World War I in New York examines the outpouring of posters, flyers, magazine art, sheet music covers, and other mass-produced images created by these New Yorkers to stir the American public to wartime loyalty, duty, and sacrifice.

From the outbreak of the European conflict in 1914, however, New York had also been a city at war with itself—a place where debates about ethnic and racial loyalty, pacifism, the right to side with France, Belgium, and England or Germany, and the very meaning of patriotism spawned impassioned art for a mass audience.

In rediscovering a wartime dialogue between images of conformity and dissent, Posters and Patriotism showcases over 60 examples from the World War I poster collection donated to the Museum by railroad executive and financier John W. Campbell (1880-1957) in 1943, most being exhibited for the first time, as well as the work of defiant artists in such colorful publications as The Masses, The Fatherland, and Mother Earth.

Image: detail from poster by James Montgomery Flagg (1877-1960), I Want You for U.S. Army, c. 1917 Museum of the City of New York, gift of Mr. John W. Campbell

  • Museum of the City of New York
  • 1220 Fifth Ave at 103rd St
  • 10029 New York, New York
  • USA
  • More details


Glorious Years: French Calendars from Louis XIV to the Revolution

Until 29 October 2017, Wed-Sun, Waddesdon Manor

A celebration of the power of the printed image before photography, Glorious Years is an exhibition of 26 rare French calendars, never before seen on public display. This exhibition charts the evolution of these calendars (originally named ‘almanacs’) from their golden period under Louis XIV, through to the Revolution, when time itself was re-invented.

Image la Chaussée, Almanac
la Chaussée, Almanac. Titled The august alliance of the houses of Bourbon and Austria, 1771;
etching and engraving; 717 x 537mm; © National Trust, Waddesdon Manor

Published in Paris in the 17th and 18th centuries, these striking prints featured major events, from royal weddings and births to victorious battles and peace treaties. At a time when the printed image was the most effective communicator, calendars were designed to both educate and delight. Glorious Years will examine how and why these prints were made and their role in propaganda, revealing much about the social, political and artistic world of the Old Regime.

As well as large single-sheet printed calendars, a number of bound pocketbook almanacs will also be on display. These small volumes were popular in the late 18th century, varying hugely in content. Ranging from official directories, listing members of the royal households, schedules for the postal service and carriage travel; to collections of songs, poems and illustrations. Some even included erasable paper for notetaking and recording gambling-related gains and losses. Not unlike modern-day smart phones, these conveniently sized pocketbooks were portable and perfectly suited to inform, distract and amuse.

Image Almanac: Louis XV
Almanac: Louis XV, the Queen, the Dauphin surrounded by courtiers and other nations
with a family tree of French kings, 1734, © National Trust, Waddesdon Manor

Despite their popularity, these calendars have not survived in great numbers, making Waddesdon’s collection unique in the UK. Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild (1839-1898) was fascinated by social history and collected these calendars alongside other printed ephemera, such as trade cards and lottery tickets. The calendars on display have been conserved, remounted and digitised. They will be available to browse on the website.

  • Waddesdon Manor
  • Aylesbury
  • Buckinghamshire, HP18 0JH
  • UK
  • More details


Victoria Revealed

Until 17 February 2018

Image of Queen Victoria and children

This exhibition explores the many, often surprising, aspects of Queen Victoria’s character: devoted wife, dedicated mother, devastated widow and powerful stateswoman.

Follow Victoria’s story from the room in which she spent her first moments as queen. Trace her journey from young girl to queen enthralled with a new husband, to grieving matriarch and ruler of a vast empire.

Included in the exhibition are iconic, impressive, beautiful and often deeply personal objects, from Victoria’s simple white silk wedding gown, to the dolls she made, dressed and named as a little girl.

Victoria and the people who surrounded her tell this story: excerpts from her journals, letters and reports from contemporary commentators give insight into the extraordinary life of the woman whose name defined an age.



Ephemera - minor transient documents of every day life