Sunday, 10 August 2008


Ephemera is the general term for those bits of throwaway paper of every day life - short-lived and transitory matter such as advertising, newspaper cuttings, ticket stubs, programs, catalogues, menus, manifestos, match covers, some booklets and pamphlets. The name comes from the Greek work ephemeron, meaning something that disappears quickly.

While I was doing the article about The Pools the other day I searched on-line for a picture of an old-fashioned pools coupon. Not an easy task. It is amazing to think how many billions of them were printed and yet so few remain. They are classic examples of ephemera. When I was at college studying librarianship I recall being interested in preserving ephemera for a brief spell and as a result I have some odds and ends that made their way into my diary of the time - like a match cover from the restaurant that Anne worked in...

I decided the other day to scan a few odds and ends into the computer and preserve them for posterity. Initially I concentrated on old items. Here is a certificate that Nana got for Oil Painting in 1894...

Some old family business and calling cards were obvious candidates for scanning.

This wonderful example of ephemera is a Lewis’ pass book which Dad’s sister Agnes used to record various odds and ends. It contains poems, her ‘accounts’ with her Mum, a note of when someone sailed for India, some addresses, hints on housekeeping, and lots of other miscellaneous stuff.

And a record of Uncle Eric’s baptism. It is interesting that in those days it was quite normal for a parent to act as a Godparent as well.

And, a bit later on in his life, a NAAFI purchasing permit. And then the note of his medals.

Here are some electricity bills of Dad’s from 1959 and 1960. I wish it was that price nowadays.

This is a receipt from one of my first pairs of spectacles.

From around 25 years ago I turned up a canvassing card from when my friend Sandy Blair was a Labour candidate for Chester.

The first, and obvious choice, for recent ephemera was a couple of unsuccessful Lottery tickets! I wonder what else I’ll think of to record for posterity in the weeks to come.

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