This Year’s Ephemera Society of America’s annual four-day fair in Greenwich, Connecticut has come and gone and one expects that many on both sides of the aisle, those who attended to learn and those who came to buy and sell, are already looking forward to the Conference/Fair in 2018. Ephemera, long emerging, is now a capitalized word among collectors and the subject of increasing interest. It’s been a long time coming but ephemera is today a highly important collecting category.
At this year’s two-day fair where buying and selling takes place close to 80 firms exhibited and success has been widely reported. There is some overlap with the ABAA but the society, its members, and show exhibitors are overall a very different group. This is primarily a collector association whereas the ABAA is a dealer association. And a look at the Ephemera Society’s board of directors shows this. Many directors are women and most directors are collectors.
This was the Society’s 37th annual conference [ESA37]. This year’s theme: American Ingenuity: What’s the Big Idea?
For people coming a distance this fair was often difficult to attend because it had been positioned between the ABAA’s west coast fair in February and the ABAA’s traditional New York fair dates in early April.
This year though the ABAA moved its New York fair to March and as it was this year, and will again be next, these two fairs will be on adjoining weekends. This will allow more people to attend and it’s a show well worth visiting.
Eric Caren who attended this year’s fair and has long spoken highly of it has provided pictures and some commentary.
At the end of this article are links to the Ephemera Society’s website to this year’s conference as well as to membership information.
Eric Caren considered "The Babe Ruth of Historical Paper Collecting" and a former Director of The Ephemera Society reported the following from the Fair. "I am known for the speed in which I can cover a fair and buy treasures but this fair is unique. Longtime dealers bring quality, quantity and expertise but nobody knows it all as paper is a much more vast world than books. Apparently the Book World has caught on as decades ago; you would find perhaps one or two ABAA dealers set up and now approximately a quarter of the vendors were ABAA dealers displaying their non-book items. One such new exhibitor but longtime ABAA member excitedly said to me that he hadn't written as many checks at a show in forever! Marvin Getman did a great job of attracting dealers from far and wide handling everything from tiny scraps to a giant Cheret Follies Bergere poster which was purchased by yours truly and that item was dwarfed in size by a gorgeous huge and framed Patriotic Litho displayed by James Arsenault, someone who has always had a "good eye" for a range of graphic Americana and quality.
I literally bought from the moment they let us in for setup until the moment the fair ended on Sunday afternoon. In taking photos for Rare Book Hub; I learned about colorful British theatrical tinseled broadside prints from Dramatis Personae and bought one dating from the first part of the 19th century. Steve Resnick and Dennis Holzman (longtime friends) always manage to bring a seemingly unending variety of paper and I don’t think a show has passed when I haven’t purchased from them. Then there is the Mercurial and famous Peter Luke who one day can be in Texas scouting stuff and several days of driving later; in Canada. If he got frequent flyer miles for driving he would have enough for life! He brings many thousands of items and he is always mobbed. One could spend an entire day just in his booth. Lin and Tucker Respess, Richard and Ann Thorner and John Reznikoff all brought great quality as always. I bought everything from George Washington's earliest adventure as a young Major in 1754 to that Art Nouveau Cheret I just mentioned! This fair truly had something for everyone!
The Hyatt in Greenwich has been the longtime home for this show and there was plenty to do as always. Collector exhibits in one room. Lectures in another. A benefit auction of Ephemera and a banquet were all available for the expert or the curious. One thing that I would recommend to the Society is that they add a line to describe Ephemera on their banners and in their PR, etc. It is well known in the Book World but I guarantee you that many guests at the hotel and locals would come and buy if they knew that the world of Paper contains every subject imaginable and many that defy imagination like the futuristic things that John and Sonia Kuenzig always bring along with their usual quality range of Science and Technology. So the challenge is to broaden the field by educating the public that you can spend a dollar on an old postcard or 6 figures for a George Washington ALS at these Paper shows. "The World of Ephemera...Printed, Manuscript and Photographic Originals from 6 Centuries" should be used in conjunction with the word "Ephemera" or I hereby give the Society permission to use my tagline for what will be my 5th through 7th ephemera auctions starting with Christie's in June and ending with 2 sales at Cowans..."How History Unfolds on Paper".
Either way; as all but the best books sit as was said to me recently by a colleague who is a player in the Rare Book field...the world of Ephemera is still largely unexplored and unexploited so to all you book collectors out there...Head out to the next Paper/Ephemera Fair. You will not leave empty handed no matter what your current interests and budget is!
So there you have it. Next year play a part!
The Ephemera Fair will be held on March 15-18, 2018 at the Hyatt Regency in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Those interested to exhibit should contact Marvin Getman who managed the show this year and will do so in 2018. Here is his contact information:
Marvin Getman, Impact Events Group
Here is a link to the Ephemera Society Website:
Here is the link for signing up for membership:
ESA membership: A basic membership is $55 a year.