Printed Page Bookshop
January 2021

Will you regret throwing away that last car warranty letter?
While our interest has always been primarily in books, you can't live in the book world without being exposed to ephemera - written or printed items that were originally expected to have only short-term usefulness or popularity. Commonly, that includes things like postcards, brochures, booklets, menus, advertisements, tickets -- you get the idea. Increasingly, we're seeing ephemera as much or more than books at book fairs (held virtually these days). One example:  A Calfornia bookseller recently sold a ticket stub to a lecture by Charles Dickens for $800.
Precious primary source information . . . that is what the ephemera world considers its bits and bobs of vintage (and current), usually paper items. Much of it was likely expected, back in its day, to be briefly useful then discarded. Today such items which have survived the vagaries of time often reveal things we might not otherwise ever learn. A story last year in the New York Times reported the stunning information that NASA—unthinkably—had somehow managed to lose the original tapes of Mankind’s first landing on the moon! Surely this monumentally important video document was expected to be carefully coddled and treasured forever. And yet even something as priceless as that somehow proved ephemeral. As it happens, derivative copies do exist, so that particular record has not totally disappeared. But it could have. If information as important as that could be so easily lost for eternity, imagine how much lesser—yet culturally relevant—historical information has indeed been lost with the passage of time. Each collected piece of surviving paper Americana serves up information, some of it available nowhere else on earth. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.

In a nutshell, to collectors “ephemera” are vintage printed or written items which originally served some specific purpose and were not expected to be retained or preserved, but which are now cherished. A few decades ago much of it was called “Paper Americana," though ephemera is not necessarily American. Or even paper: these days the field has been expanded to include such things as tobacco tins, photographs, radio premiums, textile swatches, vinyl record albums, items made of celluloid or wood. Also included are various items which were indeed likely to have been saved, such as wedding invitations, marriage certificates, passports, birth certificates, wills, deeds, divorce papers, stock certificates, promissory notes, and many other vintage documents.
Our friend Carol Mobley, owner of The Ephemera Catalog, has these tips for the ephemera collector:
  • Condition is everything. Even a missing corner or small stain can vastly reduce the value of an item.
  • Never pass up an item that appeals to you.  If you see something you want, buy it.  The world of ephemera collectors is full of regretful people.
  • Find resources to help you.  Thousands of books are available on all kinds of collectible ephemera.
  • Consider joining the Ephemera Society of America.  It has a great newsletter and regular conventions (virtual, these days).


This Month's Puzzler


On January 6, 1883, this man was born in Lebanon. At age twelve, he moved
with his parents to Boston, where he lived for three years before
returning home to study at the University of Beirut. He returned to
Boston to continue his studies, spent a few years in Paris studying art,
and finally settled in New York in 1912. He is chiefly remembered for a
1923 book that became one of the best-selling books of all time. The book
contains a famous recommendation for married couples:

"Let there be spaces in your togetherness."

Who wrote this? What was the title of the book? (Answer below)



Our latest chapbook is available now.  You don't want to miss it.
It's not exactly two for the price of one, but our latest chapbook delivers two things:  A short guide to book collecting, and an idea of what it's like at Printed Page from our side of the counter, with lots of stories and anecdotes about books and the people who love them.  Signed limited editions (we only had 250 printed) are available from the store or by mail -- $7 either way.  

There's a book fair coming to a screen near you -- and Printed Page will be there
Although all of us are still hoping that the Rocky Mountain Book and Paper Fair will occur live this August, in the meantime, the antiquarian book world has turned to virtual fairs.  One's coming up January 22-24.  We'll be one of the exhibitors, so we hope you'll virtually visit and drop by our virtual booth and spend some real money.  You'll be able to find us HERE.

Come in any Thursday, and we'll cover three of your books
We have archival dust jacket covers free for the taking on Thursdays.  We even install them, and no purchase is necessary.  

Puzzler answer

Kahlil Gibran  "The Prophet" 1923. If you like our Puzzler, find more on our Facebook page)
Thanks to Dr. Mardy Grothe for the use of his puzzler.  Visit him at drmardy.com.

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