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Ephemeral Brooklyn

Nov 13, 2008 10:32 AM | 1 comment

Leaves underfoot and the closing of Astroland make one think of fleeting things. There are people who try to fix impermanent experience--among them, the the people who save everything.  Ephemera collectors can be seen all around you if you know how to spot them.  They subtly stuff a ticket stub into a pocket for safekeeping. They  keep a free postcard from a place they  want to remember. They keep a “Good for one day only!” pass from the park and look at it again with a smile. Maybe it will end up in a scrapbook, or perhaps it will make its way to the trash; but maybe the collector will hold on to it to remind herself of a particularly happy moment from days long gone. Ephemera collectors may not know the value of what they are holding when they choose to keep rather than discard the tiny reminder of a particular experience.

A piece of ephemera is a transient item like a ticket stub or a receipt. The Brooklyn Collection at Brooklyn Public Library has an extensive collection of such materials that give a glimpse of events and activities in forgotten (and occasionally well-remembered) moments of Brooklyn’s history. To hold a piece of ephemera is to reach across the years and share that moment with some unnamed Brooklynite.  Coney Island is a favorite source of such materials.  The collection has several printed items saved from the early days of Coney Island amusements. They capture a time when Coney Island was a destination for thrill seekers, lovers, and spectators, providing an intimate look into what someone thought was important enough to save when someone else tossed it to the gutter.  




11/13/2008 3:09:16 PM #

Some of the coolest art around is on these types of things. The Ephemera Society of America at has examples of a whole bunch of kinds of ephemera. Nice post!