Ephemera is transitory written and printed matter not intended to be retained or preserved. It includes trade cards, bookmarks, catalogues, greeting cards, pamphlets, headed letters, posters, prospectuses, stock certificates, tickets and magazines.
There is even an Ephemera Society dedicated to the ‘collection, preservation, study and educational uses of hand-written and printed ephemera’.
Different types of ephemera are produced to meet the needs of the day, such items reflect the moods and mores of past times in a way that more formal records cannot. They can give us real insight into fashions, attitudes and the costs of daily living.
The Society of Genealogists is always on the look out for rare material to add to its ever expanding collection and our head librarian recently stumbled across this 1904 printed ephemera called ‘To Uxbridge from the City by Tram, Tube and Car’. She has since searched the internet to see if there are any other known copies and is yet to find one. A charming guide of things to do, places to see and shops and restaurants at every tube and tram stop from the City of London to Uxbridge. Some of the shops and restaurants advertised are still in business today.
It includes many pictures of buildings, institutions, restaurants, shops and their shop keepers from 1904.
Another typical example of ephemera you can find within our collections is this 1884 ‘Grand Hotel, Eastbourne. Visitors Guide’ which would have been given to people staying at the hotel.