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Ephemera Events & Exhibitions

  • Ephemera Society Fairs 2017

  • Sunday · 4 June · 3 December
  • Holiday Inn London Bloomsbury
  • Coram Street
  • London WC1N 1HT
  • United Kingdom
  • All are welcome · Entry £3 · 11am - 4pm
  • Members from 10am with membership cards



The Londoners: Portraits of a Working City, c1447 to 1980

Until 5 July 2017

Print of London Watchman

This free exhibition, at London Metropolitan Archives(LMA), comes face to face with London's past.

Hundreds of thousands of faces - images of born Londoners and more transient visitors - are preserved forever in the LMA collections.

From Lord Mayors to chimney sweeps, waitresses to wrestlers, London has increasingly been a magnet for those looking for work. Some jobs appear strangely familiar, miraculously little changed across more than five centuries, while others are more or less a mystery to all except their practitioners.

Images of working Londoners capture the strangeness and the familiarity, the toil, flair and sheer vitality of work in London.

Winners, losers, the famous or the forgotten, countless Londoners have been recorded as they went about their daily work in the capital. From fifteenth century drawings to colour photographs, the archive brings them all together and presents them as the history of our capital city.

  • London Metropolitan Archives
  • 40 Northampton Road
  • Clerkenwell, London EC1R 0HB
  • UK
  • More details
  • Image: 18th century London Watchman


The Art of Ownership
Bookplates and Book Collectors from 1480 to the Present

Until 19 March 2017

Book plate for A Edward Newton

The primary function of a bookplate is very simple: to indicate the owner of a book. But these small works of art communicate many more implicit and explicit messages about their owners, including ancestry, occupation, interests, artistic tastes, and philosophy. They can also help modern readers trace the history of individual volumes.

The Art of Ownership presents notable bookplates from five centuries in books from the Rosenbach’s collections and consider what they add to the objects’ stories. The exhibition will also look at the colourful characters who created and used the bookplates, and examine how book enthusiasts make and use them today.

In addition to the detailed stories of the featured bookplates, the exhibition will present a wider range of digitized examples from the University of Delaware’s extensive William Augustus Brewer Bookplate Collection.

  • Rosenbach Museum & Library
  • 2008-2010 Delancey Place
  • Philadelphia, PA 19103
  • USA
  • More details


American Ingenuity: What’s the big idea?

17 - 19 March 2017

Image of poster for ESA conference and fair

Mark your calendar for the Ephemera Society of America’s(ESA) thirty-seventh annual conference at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Old Greenwich, Connecticut.

When Chicago hosted the Columbian Exposition in 1893, the United States led the world in the technology of manufacturing and communications (photography, the telegraph, a prepaid mail system, bicycle travel). By the next Chicago world's fair in 1933, even more "big idea" advances had been made in travel on land and by air.

Speakers at the Friday conference - museum curators as well as independent collector/scholars - will present images of inventors and invention, focusing on innovative ideas and how they were disseminated for good (the freedom of bicycle travel) or ill (the chicanery of patent medicine).

On Saturday and Sunday, ESA will present the widely anticipated Ephemera Fair considered by many to be the best in North America.

  • Hyatt Regency Greenwich Hotel
  • 1800 East Putnam Avenue
  • Old Greenwich, CT 06870
  • USA
  • More details


'Be My…'

Image Victorian valentine

Until 28 February 2017

This exhibition explores Valentine Day's history and how love messages have taken a variety of forms - from the sweet and romantic to the satirical and outrageous. Called 'Be My…', a twist on the traditional 'be my valentine'.

It is an interactive title, inviting people to fill in the '…' of the 'Be My'. The display will consider Valentine Day's history and the different contexts and customs and social and cultural attitudes regarding proclamations of love.

Importantly the exhibition will focus upon key examples of Valentine's cards from the Priest House Museum's unique collection of Victorian Valentine cards - a collection of cards that 'has been identified to be of national importance'.

Image Victorian comic valentine This fun, informative and intriguing exhibition will showcase an array of wonderful historical Valentine designs and it will explore wider associative items and experiences that evidence how love messages have taken a variety of forms.

The exhibition is a creative collaborative project involving students and staff from the Arts University Bournemouth (AUB) working with the Priest's House Museum and has been designed and co-curated by students and staff from AUB BA(Hons) degree courses in Interior Architectural Design, Graphic Design and Costume and Performance Design.

  • Priest's House Museum
  • 23-27 High Street
  • Wimborne Minster
  • Dorset BH21 1HR
  • UK
  • More details


Biblical Fans

Until 21 May 2017

The Fan Museum begins the year with a sumptuous display of fans decorated with biblical subjects. Fittingly, the opening segment of the exhibition features folding fans painted with the story of Adam & Eve; juxtaposing an eighteenth century design with the work of a contemporary fan painter illustrates how stories from the bible have fascinated artists throughout history.

Image of biblical fan

The display of over eighty fans touches upon many of the bible’s significant episodes and includes interpretations of the Finding of Moses, Abraham sacrificing Isaac and The Visitation.

Eighteenth century fans feature prominently within the display and show fan painters reinterpreting master paintings and widely circulated engravings by Rubens and others to fit the fan format. At a time when art reflected social and cultural mores, fans decorated with episodes from the bible encompass spiritualty, enlightenment and other worldly concerns which remain relevant to modern society.

  • The Fan Museum
  • 12 Crooms Hill, Greenwich
  • London SE10 8ER
  • UK
  • More details


250 Years of Jigsaws

Until April 2017

A new exhibition celebrating 250 years of the jigsaw puzzle, the largest of its kind ever shown, will open at The Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising.

The jigsaws in the exhibition reflect the social history of Britain over the past 250 years, celebrating royal occasions and exhibitions, new forms of transport and technology, wars and battles, film stars and radio personalities, television programmes and pop stars. The exhibition features 250 jigsaws dating back to 1766 when the earliest ‘dissected puzzles’ (as they were known) - were made by mapmakers as educational aids for children of the upper classes.

Image of jigsaw

Initially, jigsaw puzzles were hand made from wood and only the rich could afford them. It was during the early 20th century that cardboard jigsaws were introduced making them more affordable. As there was rationing of card in the Second World War jigsaws became smaller and the card thinner, but they were seen as moral boosters for the nation.

When in the early 20th century the more economic cardboard jigsaw began to take over from wooden ones, it wasn’t long before promotional examples made their appearance amongst an increasing variety of advertising gimmicks. A further hundred examples of this marketing medium are also on display.

More details

  • Museum of Brands
  • 111-117 Lancaster Road
  • Notting Hill
  • London W11 1QT
  • United Kingdom

Image: Grocer's Shop teaching jigsaw - "Teaches spelling of many household words"


Radical Voices

Until March 2017

Image of magazine cover

The Oxford English Dictionary defines radical as ‘advocating thorough and far-reaching political or social reform… characterized by independence of or departure from what is usual or traditional’.

In Great Britain, the word has the further association with the late eighteenth - and early nineteenth-century’s Liberal Party’s stance on reform of society and Parliament.

The collections of Senate House Library include collections of those who defined themselves as radical in the specific late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century British sense, as well as those who more generally advocated for societal improvements through reform. Senate House Library has organically developed into a hub for collections of radical voices of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

The collections not only sheds light on enormously influential but subsequently neglected figures, campaigns and organisations, but also on the University’s own institutional history, and potential futures.

More details about this free exhibition and associated events.

  • Senate House Library
  • University of London
  • Malet Street
  • London WC1E 7HU
  • United Kingdom
  • Senate House Library

Image: Copyright © Senate House Library


Game Plan: Board Games Rediscovered

Until 23 April 2017

Image of snakes and ladders board game

Are you a Scrabble Champion? A wannabee Chess grandmaster? Or a Monopoly megalomaniac? Game Plan: Board Games Rediscovered will celebrate the joy, excitement and occasional frustration of playing board games.

This exhibition includes some of the most iconic, enthralling and visually striking games from the V&A’s outstanding national collection of board games. Alongside current family favourites such as Cluedo and Trivial Pursuit, and traditional games like chess, the exhibition will look at historical board games including The Game of the Goose and other beautifully designed games from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Board games are played by everyone, young and old. They have a universal appeal that transcends cultural and language barriers. They can both teach and entertain us. The playing of board games is embedded into our culture, not just the games themselves but the act of playing, the interaction with family and friends, the lessons to be learned and the fun to be had.

The exhibition will include more than 100 objects, featuring games from around the world, and explores the important role of design. Throughout the exhibition, selected games of special interest are highlighted with more detailed information on their history and influence.

  • V&A Museum of Childhood
  • Cambridge Heath Rd
  • London E2 9PA
  • United Kingdom
  • More details


You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966-1970

Until 26 February 2017

Image of International Times 1968

How have the finished and unfinished revolutions of the late 1960s changed the way we live today and think about the future?

This major exhibition, at the Victoria and Albert Museum will explore the era-defining significance and impact of the late 1960s, expressed through some of the greatest music and performances of the 20th century alongside fashion, film, design and political activism.

  • Victoria and Albert Museum
  • Cromwell Road
  • London SW7 2RL
  • UK
  • More details

Image: The International Times - underground newspaper founded in London in 1966.


The Camera Exposed

Until 5 March 2017

Image of 1960s photo

In the age of the mobile phone, the camera as a stand-alone device is disappearing from sight. Yet generations of photographers have captured the tools of their trade, sometimes inadvertantly as reflections or shadows, and sometimes as objects in their own right.

Every photograph in this display features at least one camera. From formal portraits to casual snapshots, still-lifes to collages, they appear as reflections or shadows, and sometimes as objects in their own right.

Throughout the history of photography the camera has often made an appearance in its own image, from the glint of Eugène Atget’s camera in a Parisian shop window from the 1900s, to the camera that serves as an eye in Calum Colvin’s 1980s photograph of a painted assemblage of objects.

  • Victoria and Albert Museum
  • Cromwell Road
  • London, SW7 2RL
  • UK
  • More details


Fashion on the Ration: 1940s Street Style

Until 1 May 2017

Image of birthday card featuring ration books

IWM North, part of Imperial War Museums in Manchester, presents this major exhibition marking the 75th anniversary of clothes rationing in Britain.

During the Second World War British men and women had to find new ways to dress as austerity measures and the rationing of clothes took hold. They demonstrated amazing adaptability and ingenuity by adopting more casual styles and by renovating, recycling and creating their own clothes.

Bringing together 300 exhibits including clothing, accessories, photographs and film, official documents and publications, artworks, wartime letters, interviews and ephemera, some of which have never been on display before, Fashion on the Ration presents a sense of what life was like on the home front for men and women during wartime Britain.

  • IWM North
  • The Quays
  • Trafford Wharf Road
  • Manchester M17 1TZ
  • UK
  • More details


Victoria Revealed

Until 17 February 2018

Image of Queen Victoria and children

This exhibition explores the many, often surprising, aspects of Queen Victoria’s character: devoted wife, dedicated mother, devastated widow and powerful stateswoman.

Follow Victoria’s story from the room in which she spent her first moments as queen. Trace her journey from young girl to queen enthralled with a new husband, to grieving matriarch and ruler of a vast empire.

Included in the exhibition are iconic, impressive, beautiful and often deeply personal objects, from Victoria’s simple white silk wedding gown, to the dolls she made, dressed and named as a little girl.

Victoria and the people who surrounded her tell this story: excerpts from her journals, letters and reports from contemporary commentators give insight into the extraordinary life of the woman whose name defined an age.



Ephemera - minor transient documents of every day life