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The Ephemerist Autumn 2015

Image of Autumn issue of the society's journal
The Autumn issue of the society's journal is scheduled to be posted to members in October and contains the following articles:

  • Donald Zaldin | The illusion of nineteenth-century advertising:
    a tale of two classes
  • Amoret Tanner | The battle of Waterloo
  • Graham Hudson | The woman in white: a famous theatre poster and the part it played in ‘the streets as art-galleries’
  • Plus regular favourites | Mrs Pepys' Diary and Notes & Queries

Cover image: The progress of the century. The lightning steam press. The electric telegraph. The locomotive. The steamboat.
Lithograph, Currier & Ives, 1876 [Library of Congress]. From Donald Zaldin’s article, The illusion of nineteenth-century advertising: a tale of two classes


Exploring Archives: Black Ephemera

Saturday 3 October 2015

Image of advert

This is an opportunity to learn about several UK collections and archives including the Bernie Grant Archive at Bishopsgate Institute and Black Cultural Archives.

By exploring newspapers, magazines, postcards, hand bills and pamphlets, a range of speakers will cover different historical perspectives and the role of ephemera in promoting political activity, grassroots activism and cultural heritage.

There will also be the chance to view items from the Bernie Grant Archive for an hour before and after the event in Bishopsgate Library.

The history of racism is inextricably bound up with the nature of representation and stereotyping of Black people. Image above: late Victorian advertisement for Stower's Lime Juice Cordial.

More information:
More Bernie Grant related events:


Digital.Bodleian: New Online Portal

Image of print

Members of the public can now explore the Bodleian Libraries' extraordinary collection of digitized books, manuscripts, maps, art and ephemera through a single website.

The Digital.Bodleian website, launched on 9 July, includes more than 100,000 images covering everything from beautifully illustrated manuscripts and centuries-old maps to Victorian board games and Conservative Party election posters from the last 100 years.

For the first time the public can view digital versions of library materials, many of which were only previously accessible by obtaining an Oxford University Bodleian Libraries' readers card.

At visitors can view a diverse range of stunning images, find out more about the Bodleian's incredible historic collections, and even curate their own customized image collections. Digital.Bodleian also allows users to download images for non-commercial use, make private notes and annotations, leave public comments on images and share images on social media. The resource is particularly suited to educational use as all images are available under an open license allowing for use in presentations, on virtual learning environments and on other non-commercial platforms.

'Digital.Bodleian will bring together the riches of the Bodleian's digitization programme over the last 20 years and will allow people to discover our unique collections through a single, innovative interface,' said Lucie Burgess, Associate Director for Digital Libraries at the Bodleian Libraries. 'It's a dynamic project so the site will continue to grow as we add 1.5 million images from previous digitization projects, and from digital projects going forwards'.

Of particular interest to ephemera enthusiasts are hundreds of board games, writing blanks, and other 18th and 19th century children's games, Victorian playbills, handbills, postcards and posters from the John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera.

Image: The Mermaid! Now Exhibiting at the Turf Coffee-House 39 St James's Street.
Etching by George Cruikshank.
Pub. by G. Humphrey, 27 St. James's St., London, 1822 Octr. 20th.
"A mummified creature poised erect on the curve of a fish's body, just above the tail, stands in a glass case..."


Museums Association Conference & Exhibition 2015

5-6 November, Birmingham

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The Museums Association Conference & Exhibition is the largest event of its kind in Europe for museums and heritage professionals. Over 1,500 senior staff discuss the latest issues, discover new practice and meet the world's leading suppliers and consultants.

The theme this year is Radical Futures. Delegates will have the opportunity to debate and discuss big ideas with colleagues from around the UK and internationally. How will diversity, ethics, funding and cultural value affect what we do and how we operate? There will also be a Diversity Forum with a series of linked sessions that will challenge some of the assumptions and myths surrounding the diversity debate.

Keynote speakers include Darren Henley, chief executive of Arts Council England, Sally Yerkovich, director of the Institute of Museum Ethics in the United States, Peter Luff, chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund and David Fleming, president of the Museums Association and director, National Museums Liverpool.

There are a host of other sessions, practical workshops and training - all developed to facilitate fresh thinking. The social events will give you the opportunity to network with colleagues at Thinktank, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and Ikon Gallery.

Conference is a vital forum for debate, exchange and networking - join us for the biggest event of its kind in Europe and help shape the future of museums.

For more information and to book your place go to


The Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture (MoDA)

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Greeting from the Architectural Press
Christmas and New Year card designed by Charles Hasler
Copyright © Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture

MoDA hold an eclectic ephemera collection which belonged to mid-century graphic designer, Charles Hasler (1908 – 1992). Chair of the Typographic Panel for the 1951 Festival of Britain and connected to seminal architects and designers of the time such as F.H.K Henrion and Mischa Black, Hasler contributed towards the inventiveness of post-war British design. Hasler's collection is wide ranging and features mid-century ephemera collected for its interesting typography and illustration, together with Victorian examples.

The collection includes greetings cards, cigarette cards, journals, invitations, books, exhibition catalogues, sales catalogues, prints, packaging, articles, books, business records, photographs, photocopies, manuscripts, slides, colour transparencies, newspaper clippings and journals and trade literature.

The ephemera collection is open to the public by appointment which can be made by emailing


Victorian Turkish Baths

by Malcolm Shifrin

Image of book

Victorian Turkish Baths is the first book to bring to light the hidden history of a fascinating institution—the 600-plus dry hot air baths that sprang up across Ireland, Britain and beyond, in the 19th century.

Ephemera Society member Malcolm Shifrin traces the bath’s Irish-Roman antecedents, looking at how its origins were influenced by a combination of the physician Richard Barter’s hydropathic expertise, and the idiosyncratic diplomat David Urquhart's passion for the hammams of the Middle East.

The book reveals how working-class members of a network of political pressure groups built more than 30 of the first Turkish baths in England. It explores the architecture, technology and sociology of the Victorian Turkish bath, examining everything from business and advertising to sex—real and imagined. This book offers a wealth of wondrous detail—from the baths used to treat sick horses to those for first-class passengers on the Titanic.

This book will appeal to those interested in Victorian social history, architecture, social attitudes to leisure, early public health campaigns, pressure groups, gendered spaces and much else besides. The book is complemented by the author’s widely respected website, where readers can find a treasure trove of further information.

To be published September 2015
368pp, Size: 276mm x 219mm Hardback, ISBN: 978-1-84802-230-0


Paper Peepshows: The Jacqueline & Jonathan Gestetner Collection

by Ralph Hyde

Image of book

Peepshows were introduced in the mid-eighteenth century by Martin Engelbrecht in Augsburg. They called for a long wooden cabinet designed for purpose incorporating a viewing lens and sometimes a mirror.

In the 1820s peepshows made entirely of paper appeared on the scene more or less at the same moment in Vienna, London and Paris. The clumsy cabinet was no longer called for. The new peepshow was equipped with paper bellows so it could be expanded or contracted in a trice. Paper peepshows were light; they were comparatively cheap. They fitted neatly into the pocket.

Viewing a Paper Peepshow is an intimate, individual experience that, in the age of television and hand-held computers, gives a real sense of personal discovery. The viewer engages by peeping through a tiny hole and thereby discovers inside layers of images, like a pocket-sized stage set.

The format lent itself to a wide variety of subjects: to coronations and to state visits and funerals, to pleasure gardens, to trips up rivers and to the ceremonial openings of new railways, to distant views of cities and to tourist landmarks, to military engagements in exotic places, and to the July Revolution and the fall of the Bourbons in France in 1830. The Crystal Palace, erected in Hyde Park 1851 for the Great Exhibition, inspired the production of very large numbers of peepshows, mostly made overseas and imported. Peepshows made possible visits to sites existing in the imagination, to plunge down Alice s rabbit hole, for example, and to wander through the Garden of Eden in Paradise.

This stunning book charts the history of these charming collectables. The illustrated catalogue section includes the following data where known: country of origin, publisher, date, method of printing (eg chromolithograph), shape and dimensions, and number of scenes. As well as a full description of each piece, the author gives fascinating historical and cultural context for these items - ranging from depictions of the July Revolution (Paris, 1830), or the opening of the Thames Tunnel to the nursery tale of 'Puss in Boots'.

  • ISBN: 9781851498000
  • Publisher: Antique Collectors' Club
  • Size: 300 mm x 237 mm
  • Pages: 272
  • Illustrations: 491 colour
  • Hardback


Butlin's Launches New Archive Project with HAT

Image of Butlins advertIn preparation for their 80th anniversary in 2016, Butlin's, founded in 1936 by Sir Billy Butlin, have joined forces with the History of Advertising Trust (HAT) to transport the Butlin's personal brand archive into the twenty-first century. Over the coming years, the partnership will make available their classic PR, advertising, film, photography and memorabilia to be explored by the nation online.

This new archive project aims to unlock the rich nostalgia in the stories of the people who made Butlin's great. From Sir Billy Butlin himself, the Butlin's famous Redcoats, thousands of dedicated team members and millions of Great British holiday makers, this new partnership will allow treasured Butlin's memories to be remembered in their anniversary year and relived by future generations for many years to come.

Image of Butlins coaster 1968HAT aims to have catalogued the Butlin's Heritage Collection by the end of 2015, with many significant items also digitised for view online. In place for Butlin's anniversary in 2016, the interactive functionality of HAT's online portals will also allow members of the public to help piece together missing parts of the eighty years of Butlin's great history.

August 2015 Update

Cataloguing and digitisation work is continuing apace: in recent weeks the HAT team have been working on the Butlin’s postcard and printed ephemera collection. One highlight of the extensive postcard collection is an album of mailing novelties featuring some charming retro images from the 1950s (lucky cats in baskets seems to be a favourite theme!) as well as examples of classic British seaside humour.

In addition many postcards contain handwritten notes from holiday-makers which provide a fascinating insight into their experiences at various Butlin camps. The printed ephemera collection includes colourful membership memorabilia for the junior Beaver Club, Butlin’s branded match boxes featuring quirky art deco style designs, ‘Portrait Sketch’ souvenirs by Butlin’s cartoonists in residence and holiday camp menus.
Image: Coaster from Beachcomber Bar 1968

Celebrating 40 years


Ephemera - minor transient documents of every day life