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


The Ephemera Society News

A Partnership for Ephemera Studies

News from the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication,
University of Reading

Poster from Rickards collection

Typography is pleased to announce an exciting new Goodwill Partnership between the Centre for Ephemera Studies (one of our research centres) and the John Johnson Collection at the Bodleian Library (University of Oxford). Commenting on this new initiative, Julie Anne Lambert, Librarian of the John Johnson Collection said:

The John Johnson Collection is delighted to partner the Centre for Ephemera Studies at the University of Reading. Our joint aim is to further the academic and popular potential of ephemera to cast light on the everyday lives of our forebears through the documents they themselves saw and handled. We are particularly excited to work with the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication in exploring the materiality of ephemera in their (often innovative) design and printing.

The Partnership will include working together on exhibitions, symposia, funding applications, projects with postgraduate and undergraduate students, and sharing of expertise on cataloguing, conservation, and print identification and conservation. It will reinforce the potential of ephemera to engage academics from a wide range of disciplines as well as the public.

Professor Roberta Gilchrist, Research Dean for Heritage and Creativity at Reading supports the collaboration:

The University of Reading warmly welcomes the new partnership between the Centre for Ephemera Studies and the Bodleian Library, John Johnson Collection. The collaboration will highlight the rich potential of ephemera to illuminate the history of everyday life and to inspire new approaches to printing and design.

Winter Entertainments from the Rickards Collection


A Concert For Samuel Pepys

Wednesday · 15 February 2017 · 8pm

Portrait of Pepys

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.

In February BBC Radio 4 present a rare opportunity to hear four neglected music manuscripts written for the celebrated diarist Samuel Pepys by his catholic music master Cesare Morelli with some of the pieces being performed for the first time in 300 years.

The bass-baritone David Ireland (Young Artist at the National Opera Studio; Guildhall School of Music & Drama), theorbo player Toby Carr (Trinity College School of Music; Guildhall) and the baroque guitarist James Bramley (Guildhall) led by Dionysios Kyropoulos (Guildhall; University of Oxford) will play Beauty retire (the only piece by Pepys himself), Beauty retire (by Morelli), The world’s a Bubble, To be or not to be, Amanti fuggite, Du bruit et des facheux, The Benediction, The words of the Preacher, Lord I have sinned (by Humphrey, arranged by Morelli).

The concert will be recorded (audio only) for the purposes of a BBC Radio 4 arts feature about Pepys and Morelli.

Location: St Olave’s Church, Hart Street, London EC3R 7NB.
Free entry, but please apply for a reservation to; some seats will also be available on the night


Auction News: collection of signatures

Tuesday 24 January 2017

A magnificent collection of more than a 1,000 signatures from iconic historical figures from the past five centuries, from Charles Dickens to the Duke of Wellington to the First Men on the Moon to Buffalo Bill and Harry Houdini will be offered by auctioneers Campbells at their premises, 44-46 High St, Worthing, West Sussex BN11 1LL.

The collection was amassed by the late John Evans, who meticulously framed or put the signatures in albums. He was passionate about politics, which is evident from the collection, and was one of the first Anti-Vivisection campaigners.

Auction Lot

Auctioneer Paul Campbell was asked to take the collection when Mr Evans died earlier this year, he said: "It's been such a privilege to turn the pages of one man's life and passion and to see and consider the history he brought together. The Dalai Lama is next to Spencer Perceval, the Prime Minister who was murdered inside the House of Commons in 1812."

Estimates range from £50 to £1,000, with the earliest signature dating from 1697 from the 1st Duke of Marlborough. One of the most fascinating signatures is that of Charles Dickens on a Coutts cheque for £35 for a piece of silver in 1861 to Messrs Hunt & Roskell, which was originally founded as Paul Storr in 1819. Other literary names include J.M Barrie; Rudyard Kipling; William Wordsworth; Arthur Conan Doyle and John Ruskin.

Campbells auction house


The Art of the Valentine

16 February 2017 · 18:00 – 20:00

The Victorian era brought out both the best and the worst in terms of Valentine cards. This talk at the Guildhall Library by, Ephemera Society member, John Scott takes a look at the images and the words chosen to express eternal love in the nineteenth century, from exquisite engraving and delicate paper lace to satirical cartoons more suited to your enemy than to your lover.

All are welcome, price includes wine reception: Booking details

Detail from Victorian valentine

Hail to thy returing festival, Old Bishop Valentine!
Singing Cupids are thy chorsiters and thy precentors;
And instead of the crosier, the mystical arrow is borne before thee.
In other words, this is the day on which those charming little missives,
called Valentines, cross and intercross each other at every street and turning.

  • Guildhall Library
  • Aldermanbury
  • London EC2V 7HH
  • UK


Famous Brand Names & Their Origins

Kathy Martin

Image of book

Have you ever wondered what the PG stands for in PG Tips? Or how the decidedly non-dairy Harvey’s Bristol Cream came by its name? Or why Cussons Imperial Leather is the name of a popular toilet soap rather than a luxury leather goods brand?

The answer to these conundrums can be found in, Famous Brand Names & Their Origins, a newly published book which shines a light on the origins of some of our most popular brands. Featured categories include confectionery, alcohol, frozen foods, household essentials, appliances, toys, High Street shops and many others.

Along the way, some of the colourful characters who brought these brands into our homes are introduced, amongst them daring entrepreneurs, Non-Conformist businessmen, plucky widows, brilliant refugees, forward-thinking philanthropists and a handful of decidedly racy individuals.

Packed with interesting facts, entertaining nuggets of trivia, and illustrated with a sprinkling of ephemera this book is for anyone interested in the origins of the brands that shape our lives.


Johnston and Gill: Very British Types

Mark Ovendon

Image of Johnston and Gill: Very British Types book

Iconic British typefaces Johnston and Gill Sans are celebrated in the first in-depth exploration of their development and impact on Britain’s visual culture.

Edward Johnston (1872–1944) and Eric Gill (1882–1940) were originators of two of the world’s most enduring typefaces. Johnston still stands as London’s primary ‘wayfinding’ lettering, while Gill Sans is the type of choice within many public and private organisations across the UK today.

Johnston and Gill: Very British Types celebrates their significant contribution to Britain’s visual culture. Tracing the story of each typeface from inception to the present day, Mark Ovenden skilfully draws together a complex joint history that incorporates Edward Johnston’s and Eric Gill’s friendship and occasional collaboration, the myriad of revisions to both typeface designs, and the enduring appeal of the two typefaces over the last century among a range of clients, most notably the London Underground (Johnston) and the BBC (Gill Sans).

A hundred years after the arrival of Johnston’s Standard Alphabet, and 90 years since the appearance of Gill Sans, both typefaces are still going strong. Revised for the digital age, their continued future at the heart of British typography seems guaranteed. The BBC, John Lewis and the Church of England have no intention of replacing Gill Sans as their in-house typefaces.

  • Hardback • 200 Pages • Size: 250 x 195 mm
  • Includes c.300 colour and b&w illustrations • £40.00 GBP
  • UK Publication: November, 2016
  • ISBN: 978-1-84822-176-5


Ephemera Road Show: Senate House Library, University of London

25 February 2017

Image of Labour Party song book

Senate House Library will be hosting an Ephemera Road Show as part of their Radical Voices season. Radical Voices, running from January to March 2017, is an ongoing project in Senate House Library seeking to celebrate and promote the collections of radical voices of the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Revealing this strand in the library’s collections sheds light on enormously influential but subsequently neglected figures, campaigns and organisations.

The Ephemera Road Show will take place in Room 101 and the Grand Lobby of the magnificent Senate House. The public are invited to bring items from their own Radical Voices collections, such as letters, pamphlets, leaflets and other items. They will have a couple minutes with a librarian or a conservator, who will provide advice on conserving the item and pass on any knowledge they might have, but also listen to the stories of the items.

Visit the website to find out more about this event.

Image: Copyright © Senate House Library


Dedicated to all Defenders of Human Freedoms:
The Art of Paul Peter Piech

Until 12 February 2017

Image of poster

Paul Peter Piech was an artist, humanitarian and campaigner. Born in New York in 1920, Piech’s influences were many, not least politics and equality, through to jazz and poetry. His print making was infused with both a desire to reflect the world’s wrong back on itself, and to demonstrate the power of compassion and art.

This new exhibition at the People’s History Museum, is a major retrospective of his career. Visitors will see Piech’s powerful political work against racism and for peace, set against his more melodic prints illuminating his passion for jazz and the poet Walt Whitman.

Image: Paul Peter Piech The history of jazz. Linocut 1995.
From the Regional Print Centre/Coleg Cambria Collection


The Graphics of Punk

Until 29 January 2017

The Graphics of Punk focus on the wild variety of graphic art that emanated from an era of anti-establishment sentiment.

The dramatic music of the punk movement was spear-headed by the Sex Pistols who dominated this new sound. Their record sleeves packaged this radical noise, and the posters that promoted each new release forms a central point in this exhibit. A range of album covers such as God Save The Queen designed by Jamie Reid (1977) and posters such as Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle designed by M. Hirsh (1979) will be on show.The exhibit also includes the graphics of other groups who amplified this vibrant energy and antics, including The Clash, Buzzcocks and The Damned.

Detail from OZ magazine cover-issue 37

A number of key underground alternative magazines forms a part of the exhibition and gives insights into other ways which the graphics of punk were used at the time. The 1970s was a decade full of outrage and agitation. Both Oz magazine and IT (International Times) were prosecuted for obscenity in 1970, and were found guilty. Spare Rib took up the cause of women's liberation, political activists encouraged splinter groups, and the underground press supported causes such as immigration, abortion, squatters and the miners struggle. These radical campaigns draw a visual parallel between the political climate of the time and its punk graphics aesthetics.

  • Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising
  • 111-117 Lancaster Road
  • Notting Hill
  • London W11 1QT
  • UK
  • More details: Museum of Brands




Ephemera - minor transient documents of every day life