Rare Book School

RBS Home | Course Schedule | Admissions | myRBS | Support RBS | Contact RBS | Previous Years

Rare Book School
Preliminary Reading List

Printed Ephemera

Preliminary Advices

Very few general works have been written about printed ephemera. There are books that cover the history of advertising and therefore deal with the subject tangentially (9, 13-15), and others that approach it through the history of printing and graphic design (4, 16). But most books and papers on printed ephemera are concerned with specific categories of work, many of which have to do with collecting.

Item 11 will be our set book for the course, and several copies will be available for us in class. This is not a book to be read from cover to cover, but it would be appreciated if you could become familiar with it to the extent of reading a few entries that interest you and browsing through most of it. If you have easy access to a copy, please bring it along with you to class.

General works on various aspects of ephemera

1. Grand-Carteret. Vieux papiers, vieilles images: cartons d'un collectionneur (Paris: Flammarion, 2001)

2. James, Louis. Print and the people 1819-1951 (London: Allen Lane, 1976; pb rep London 1978)

3. The John Johnson Collection: catalogue of an exhibition (Oxford: Bodleian Library, 1971)

4. Lewis, John. Printed ephemera: the changing uses of type and letterforms in English and American printing (Ipswich: W. S. Cowell, 1962)

5. McCulloch, Lou W. Paper Americana (New York and London: A. S. Barnes, 1980)

6. Makepeace, Chris E. Ephemera: a book on its collection, conservation and use (Aldershot: Gower Publishing, 1985)

7. Mayor, A. Hyatt. Popular prints of the Americas (New York: Crown Publishers, 1973)

8. Pieske, Christa. Bilder für jedermann: Wandbilddrucke 1840-1940 (Berlin: Museum für Deutsche Volkskunde, Band 15, 1988)

9. Presbrey, Frank. The history and development of advertising (Garden City, New York: Doubleday Doran, 1929)

10. Rickards, Maurice. Collecting printed ephemera (Oxford: Phaidon/Christie's, 1988)

11. Rickards, Maurice, The encyclopedia of ephemera: a guide to the fragmentary documents of everyday life for the collector, curator, and historian, completed and edited by Michael Twyman with the assistance of Sarah du Boscq de Beaumont and Amoret Tanner (London: The British Library; New York: Routledge, 2000).

12. Roylance, Dale. Graphic Americana: the art and technique of printed ephemera (Princeton: Princeton University Library, 1992)

13. Sampson, Henry. A history of advertising from the earliest times (London: Chatto & Windus, 1874)

14. Smith, William. Advertise. How? When? Where? (London: Routledge, Warne, & Routledge, 1863)

15. Turner, E. S. The shocking history of advertising! (London: Michael Joseph, 1952; rev. pb edn Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1965)

16. Twyman, Michael. Printing 1770-1970; an illustrated history of its development and uses in England (London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1970; rep London: The British Library; New Castle DE: Oak Knoll Press, 1998)

Printing, graphic design, and letterforms

Some understanding of printing methods (18, 20, 26) and the growth of the printing trade (16, 23-25, 27) will be needed to follow the course, and an acquaintance with graphic design and letterforms would be helpful (4, 19, 21, 22)

17. Anderson, Patricia. The printed image and the transformation of popular culture 1790-1860 (Oxford: Clarendon Press; New York: Oxford University Press, 1991)

18. Gascoigne, Bamber. How to identify prints (London: Thames & Hudson, 1986; rep 1995)

19. Gray, Nicolete. Nineteenth century ornamented typefaces, with a chapter on ornamented types in America by Ray Nash (London: Faber & Faber, 1976)

20. Griffiths, Antony. Prints and printmaking: an introduction to the history and techniques, 2nd edn (London: British Museum Press, 1996)

21. Harris, Elizabeth. The fat and the lean: American wood type in the 19th cent. (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1983)

22. Kelly, Rob Roy. American wood type 1828-1900 (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1969)

23. Marzio, Peter. The Democratic art. Pictures for a 19th-century America (Boston: David R Godine, 1979; London: Scolar Press, 1980)

24. Silver, Rollo G. The American printer, 1787-1825 (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia for the Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia, 1967)

25. Thomas, Isaiah. The history of printing in America, ed. Marcus A. McCorison from the 2nd edn [1874] (New York: Weathervane Books, 1970)

26. Twyman, Michael. The British Library guide to printing: history and techniques (London: The British Library; Toronto: Toronto University Press, 1998)

27. Wroth, Lawrence C. The colonial printer, 2nd edn (Portland, ME: Southworth-Anthoensen Press, 1938)

Categories of ephemera

There must be hundred of books on the market that cover specific categories of ephemera. Most of them are directed at collectors and put emphasis on listings and prices rather than on the cultural, social, or graphic significance of the category in question. References for many of these books can be found at the end of entries in 11. It would be worth following up one or two of those you think might interest you, simply to find out something about this type of publication. A few of the more consequential specialist books that are concerned with issues beyond those of the market place are listed below:

28. Allen, Alastair, & Hoverstadt, Joan. The history of printed scraps (London: New Cavendish Books, 1983; pb rep Pincushion Press, 1990)

29. Buday, George C. The history of the Christmas card (London: Rockliff, 1954; rep 1964, 1992)

30. Crestin-Billet. La folie des étiquettes de vins (Paris: Flammarion, 2001)

31. Davis, Alec. Package and print ((London: Faber & Faber, 1967)

32. Fenn, Patricia, & Malpa, Alfred P. Rewards of merit (Charlottesville, VA: Ephemera Society of America, 1994)

33. Heal, Ambrose. London Tradesmen's cards of the XVIII century (London: Batsford, 1925; pb rep New York: Dover Books, 1968)

34. Hannas, Linda. The English jigsaw puzzle, 1760-1890 (London: Wayland, 1972)

35. Hyde, Ralph, Panoramania! (London: Trefoil Publications in association with the Barbican Art Gallery, 1988)

36. Jay, Robert. The trade card in nineteenth-century America (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1987)

37. Kunzle, David. The early comic strip and The history of the comic strip: the c19, 2 vol. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973-90).

38. Levy, Lester S. Picture the songs: lithographs from the sheet music of nineteenth-century America (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976)

39. Marshall, Alan, & Gouttenègre, Thierry (eds). L'Affiche en Révolution (Vizelle, Musée de la Révolution française, 1998)

40. Martin, Denis, & Huin, Bernard. Images d'Épinal (Québec and Paris: Musée du Québec and Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 1995)

41. Musée d'Orsay. L'Affiche de librarie au XIXe siècle (Paris: Éditions de La Ré union des Musées Nationaux, 1987)

42. A nation of shopkeepers: trade ephemera from 1654 to the 1860s in the John Johnson Collection (Oxford: Bodleian Library, 2001)

43. Pearsall, Ronald. Victorian sheet music covers (Newton Abbot: David & Charles, 1972; Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1972)

44. Rickards, Maurice. The public notice: an illustrated history (Newton Abbot: David & Charles, 1973)

45. Seddon, Laura. A gallery of greetings (Manchester: Manchester Polytechnic Library, 1992)

46. Shelley, Donald A. The Fraktur-writings or illuminated manuscripts of the Pennsylvania Germans (Allentown: The Pennsylvania German Folklore Society, 1961)

47. Staff, Frank. The picture postcard and its origins, 2nd edn (London: Lutterworth, 1979)

Producers of ephemera

Some printers and companies whose work has survived in quantity will be discussed during the course (49, 51, 58). It also might be helpful for you to have details of a few publications about other individual printers who produced ephemera (48, 53, 56, 57) and of some collective studies of printers who worked in the field (54, 55).

48. John Cheney and his descendants, printers in Banbury since 1767 (Banbury: privately published, 1936)

49. Corley, T. A. B. Quaker enterprise in biscuits: Huntley and Palmers of Reading, 1822-1972 (London: Hutchinson, 1972)

50. Ephemera: les imprimées de tous les jours, 1880-1939 (Lyon: Musée de l'imprimerie de Lyon, 2001)

51. Grace, D. R., and D. C. Phillips. Ransomes of Ipswich: a history of the firm and guide to its records (Reading: Institute of Agricultural History, 1975)

52. Isaac, Peter C. G. Davison of Alnwick: pharmacist and printer 1781-1858 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968)

53. McClinton, Katherine Morrison. The Chromolithographs of Louis Prang (New York: Clarkson N. Potter, 1973)

54. Peters, Harry T. America on stone (New York: Doubleday, Doran, 1931)

55. Pierce, Sally, and Catharina Slautterback. Boston lithography 1825-1880 (Boston: The Boston Athenaeum, 1991)

56. Wood, Robert. Victorian delights (London: Evans Brothers, 1967) [an account of the printed work of J. Proctor in Hartlepool in the middle of the 19th century]

57. Tatham, David. John Henry Bufford American lithographer (Worcester: American Antiquarian Society, 1976, rep from the Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, 86, part 1, April 1976)

58. Twyman, Michael. John Soulby, printer, Ulverston: a study of the work printed by John Soulby, father and son, between 1796 and 1827, with an account of Ulverston at the time by William Rollinson (Reading: Museum of English Rural Life, 1966)

Getting started

If you are unusually pressed for time or relatively new to the subject, I suggest the following reading and browsing, more or less in the following sequence.

Leaf through 10 and 11 to get a feel for the range of ephemera we are likely to be covering (reading parts of 10 will give you an outline of the history of collecting and studying ephemera; 11 will give you the opportunity to read a few short accounts of various kinds of ephemera).

Thereafter, much will depend on your experience, knowledge levels, and interests. If you feel weak on printing history I'm bound to recommend 16 for the British nineteenth-century scene and 26 for a more general overview; for American chromolithography 23 is a must. If graphic design and letterforms are special interests, try 4 and 19. The most readable introduction to advertising is 15, though if you can locate a copy I would go to 14, the earliest book on the subject. Curatorial matters are discussed in 6.

Thereafter -- or even before -- please follow your instincts. No one can be an authority in this extraordinarily broad field. The idea is that we should share what knowledge we have.