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Ephemera - Say What?

Say the word "ephemera" to a dealer or collector of this material, and you'll be greeted with a delighted smile and regaled with stories of exciting finds and interesting associations. Say the word "ephemera" to the man on the street, and he's likely to reply, "Gesundheit!"

What the heck is this stuff called ephemera? The term (usually pronounced eFEMMera) derives from the Greek ephemeros, "for the day." No two ephemera enthusiasts will come up with quite the same definition - indeed, people have tried for years to develop a universally acceptable phrase to describe this area of collecting interest. In its broadest sense, the word has been adopted to indicate handwritten or printed items of a transitory nature.

Ephemera is usually considered to be two-dimensional material on paper, although there can be exceptions. For example, bookmarks, campaign pin-back buttons, and Scouting badges and pins might not be on paper but would still be considered as ephemera by some collectors. Packaging containers such as cereal boxes or egg cartons are often included in ephemera although they are three-dimensional. In addition, the transitory nature of ephemera varies. Some items are meant to be used once and discarded, such as tickets, advertising flyers, postage stamps, and newspapers. Some ephemera is intended to be kept for a limited time, including magazines, catalogs, calendars, receipts, manuals, posters, instructional booklets, and postcards. Other items are actually produced to be kept and treasured - memorial cards, souvenirs, literary keepsakes, photographs, and items printed with collecting interests in mind, such as trading cards.

reprinted from tomfolio.com

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