The ground surface is so nearly level that you have no sense of contour. . . . It is not a former lake, although in large part it is a former swamp. Geology characteristically repeats itself around the world and down through time, but---with the possible exceptions of the Chilean Longitudinal Valley and the Dalbandin Trough in Pakistan---the Great Central Valley of California has no counterpart on this planet.

~ John McPhee, Assembling California

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Ephemera

Ephemera are paper documents produced for a short, transitory life -- an item produced for a specific purpose and normally intended for disposal. The definition of ephemera comes to us from the Greek ‘epi’ (about) and ‘hermeris’ (day). Some examples of ephemera are letterhead stationery, tickets, menus, posters, advertising materials, calendars, programs, paper currency, invitations, theatrical programs, trade catalogues, invitations, postcards, and posters. These materials offer a glimpse into popular products of the day, their prices, how businesses promoted their products, who performed in a city’s cultural and theatrical venues, popular cuisine, different types of music that was in vogue, and the stars of the sports world.

 

Learn more:

An American Time Capsule: Three Centuries of Broadsides and
Other Printed Ephemera
The Library of Congress presents over 10,000 primary historical documents as examples of the perspectives and beliefs of citizens during key events and eras in American history.

The Ephemera Society of America
This non-profit organization’s website provides an introduction to ephemera through an array of examples, exhibits, and articles. Also lists events and fairs throughout the U.S. that focus on the world of ephemera.

Last Updated Saturday, April 19, 2014 - 04:59 PM.