| Sheila Howell

What is Ephemera?

Many people collect old paper items such as photographs, books or posters. Ephemera are written or printed paper items that were never intended to be kept, but were to be discarded after use. Antique and vintage ephemera is a popular collectible for many reasons: Some paper items are collected because of their beauty or rarity, others for sentimental value and others for their historical value. 

The word ephemera is derived from the Greek ephemeros, meaning "lasting only one day, short-lived". Collectible ephemera include: 

  • advertising trade cards
  • comic books
  • letters 
  • photographs 
  • airsickness bags 
  • bookmarks
  • catalogs
  • greeting cards
  • receipts
  • advertisements
  • posters
  • tickets
  • postcards
  • playing cards 
  • stamps
  • baseball cards 

What is Ephemera? | European Finds | Online Antique Warehouse While typically described as paper items, ephemera can also be made of wood, plastic, celluloid or cloth. Some types of ephemera have a more specific name, such as collecting stamps is known as philately and book collecting is called bibliophilia

The Ephemera Society of America says:

Ephemera is revered not only for its content, but also for the beauty of its presentation which may involve interest in its graphic design, typography, a printing process such as chromolithography, or its format, such as a cobweb valentine.

Ephemera is often organized and displayed in scrapbooks, or framed and displayed as wall art. Ephemera has become popular and valuable collectible memorabilia and there are book and paper dealers and shows devoted to the display and sale of ephemera:

  • Ephemera 38 Fair
    Hyatt Regency
    1800 East Putnam Ave.Old Greenwich, CT
  • Boston West Book Print and Ephemera Fair
    Sun April 15 2018
      Minuteman High School 
    758 Marrett Rd.
    Lexington, Massachusetts
  • Granite State Book and Ephemera Fair
    Sun June 3 2018
      Everett Arena
    Concord, NH
  • Brooklyn Antiquarian Book and Print Fair
      12:00 - 4:00PM
    Brooklyn Expo Center 

  • Boston Book Print and Ephemera Fair
    Sat Nov 17 2018
      - Back Bay Events Center
    180 Berkeley St. (at Stuart St.)
    Boston, Massachusetts
  • Book and Paper Row
    Shriner's Auditorium 
    99 Fordham Rd.
    Wilmington, Massachusetts 

More information on ephemera fairs can be found at Book and Paper Fairs

1950 French Foire Exposition Poster

Vintage French poster promoting the Foire Exposition de Saint Maur. Great colors with black background, blue, yellow and red graphics. The date is a prominent feature as well. 

Slight tears in the surround of top left corner

HEIGHT:  39.5 in plus 1 in border

WIDTH:  26.5 in plus 1 in border


European Finds has ephemera available in our online antique warehouse. If you don't see what you are looking for, give us a call, and perhaps we can help you find the perfect piece!  We also provide antique sourcing services if you are looking for a specific piece. 

Contact: customerservice@europeanfinds.com.  

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