Collecting The Transitory Minutiae of the Faith.by Frank DeFreitas
Printed ephemera has always been the most interesting, enjoyable, and rewarding aspect of collecting for me. I began in 1976 -- four years before the founding of the Ephemera Society of America -- by collecting the transient throw-aways of the Nobel prize-winning fields of lasers and holography. Within 40 years, it became a collection of 20,000 pieces of history. Many, I assume, have become the only remaining pieces of their kind in the world today.
Ephemera is a rather unusual collecting topic. Pure ephemera, not adulterated by modern day expanded definition(s), deals with the throw-away printed items that pass through our everyday lives on a daily basis. Sometimes these throw-away items find their way into desk drawers or used as a handy bookmark, etc., therefore they survive into the present day. Some pieces of ephemera had a longer lifetime, but their useful function was still short lived in the long run. Here are a few examples of the Wonders of the Bible Christian ephemera collection (also view the header graphic at the top of this web page for more samples):
(above photo): A flexible recording of Billy Graham for teenagers.
(above photo): A post card saying Let's all go next Sunday.
(above photo): A paper BibleGraph that allows you to look up scripture for particular topical issue.
(above photo): Printed letterhead from stationary of early Christian KFSG Radio station.
(above photo): Signature of evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson of Angeles Temple.
I believe that, for most people, there is nothing special about the collection of ephemera. But that may be the actual point! It is the printed daily incidentals of everyday living that pass through our lives each day that most people use and throw away. But for some, like myself, a well-rounded collection would not be complete without its associated ephemera.
My Christian ephemera collection is nowhere near as impressive as my history of laser and holography ephemera collection, but it has not been in the making for the same amount of time. While I find myself getting caught up in the more "impressive" acquisitions of Wonders of the Bible -- a Rembrandt etching here; a rare Bible leaf there -- it is easy to neglect ephemera. But every so often, I find myself returning to the fold, and pick up a few additional pieces along the way. I get the feeling that, one day, my interest in Christian-based ephemera will become my main collecting activity. God knows (literally) there are plenty of pieces still out there!