Ephemera – a great word is back in fashion!

A great word has been resurrected recently – Ephemera, meaning anything of yesterday. For example, autographs of famous people, living or dead, old invoices, comics, posters, beer and whiskey labels, calendars, cigarette cards and of course postcards.

I know people who can become quite passionate about their postcard collections, particularly if they specialise in a certain field like steam engines or perhaps street markets.

Everything and every subject in the world are covered. The first post cards appeared in Austria in 1869. But it was not until 1900 – 1940 that they became really popular. It was a time long before the mobile phone, emailing, texting, facebooking, myspacing et al. Everyone in those years sent postcards. They represented the cheapest and most reliable form of communication, and carefully inserting them in huge albums became a national pastime. But again, postcards are well documented……hundreds of books have been written on the subject. There is even an auction house in London that specialises in monthly auctions of postcards.

Let us try and move away from the well known collectables and see if we could find niches that have yet to be discovered. To do this effectively we should concentrate on national items rather that international. Or maybe even concentrate on a county level. The most obvious in one in County Clare, for example, is the “The West Clare Railway”. The books have been written and indeed very well written. Have the collectors started collecting? The famous silver shovel used by Charles Stuart Parnell to cut the first sod on 26th January in 1885 is now in the Ennis Museum where it rightly belongs. What I am talking about is far removed from anything of that calibre. What about simple items such as train tickets, timetables, letters and postcards of the railway or referring to it? What about the cast iron plaques that hung on every gate declaring – ‘any person leaving this gate open is liable to a penalty of forty shillings’. Where are they all now? What else is there in County Clare? Lots and lots of item, Fleadh Ceol programmes, political posters, circus posters, cinema posters. Has anyone got anything referring to Ardnacrusha??

Shannon Airport and Aer Lingus memorabilia must be endless, from model aeroplanes, playing cards, travel brochures, ashtrays to all the advertisement paraphernalia, fountain pens, baggage labels and on and on and on……………

Categories: Davoc Stories