“a little museum of common printed things, to illustrate at one and the same time the historical development of our social life and the development of printing”
The term ‘printed ephemera’, although used privately by the great English collector, John Johnson, was established in the public consciousness in 1962 by John Lewis’s work of that name which drew on Johnson’s collection, among others, to illustrate the range of ephemera.
Inspired by his career as a papyrologist, Johnson began collecting in the 1930s and viewed collecting ephemera as excavating the waste paper of the recent past. Unlike previous collectors, Johnson collected everything.
He wanted to make “a little museum of common printed things, to illustrate at one and the same time the historical development of our social life and the development of printing”.
Johnson succeeded spectacularly but failed to deliver a ‘little museum’ – he assembled about 1.5 million items, divided into 680 subject headings. It is held at the Bodleian Library, the main research library of the University of Oxford.
The term came into use in the 20th century but the material collected is often older
But while the term printed ephemera came into use in the 20th century, it refers to material produced from the 18th century onward.
The great collections like that of John Johnson collection was chiefly made up not of contemporary material but of ‘old material’ with the aim of preserving a record of the past made up chiefly of mainly printed, mainly single sided material.
At the end of 2013, Wikipedia refers to the defining characteristics ephemera as: being transitory; and written or printed. It updates the examples of ephemera with a reference to zines.
It also considers the collection and management of video ephemera.
Marbled paper has been used for centuries in bookbinding, generally as endpapers—front and back—sometimes as outside decorative covers.
It is made by floating pigments upon a mucilaginous “size”, arranging the chosen colors as desired using toothed combs and other tools, then laying a sheet of paper or fabric onto the floating pattern to pick it up. It is a graphic printmaking process really—no two prints are exactly alike.
In 1881, C. W. Woolnough described marbling as “this pretty, mysterious art.” He also said, “This process is not very easy to describe, and yet to anyone beholding it for the first time it appears extremely simple and easy to perform, yet the difficulties are many, and the longer one practices it, the more he becomes convinced that there is ample room for fresh discoveries and more interesting results than any that have yet been accomplished.”
In recent decades, modern marblers have indeed done wonderfully interesting things with the process, ranging from beautifully crafted classic designs to representational images and scenes . . . fish, flowers, landscapes, all sorts of things. An article I wrote for the August 1978 issue of American Artist magazine (oftentimes available on eBay) details the basic process, and shows a few examples.
The naming of marbled paper designs is complex and confusing. Names have been assigned over the past two or three centuries variously in various places. Many patterns are commonly known by several different names.
William E. Clarke of Providence, Rhode Island produced and marketed “Hunt’s Remedy”, a widely sold nostrum for kidney complaints, for decades. Research into Providence city directories from 1859 (no mention of Clarke) through 1910 provides insight into Clarke and his activities.
His name first appears in 1860, listed as a clerk at a business located at 43 Wickenden Street; I suspect the number “43” might be a typographical error and that Clarkemay have worked at the apothecary and dry goods store of Benjamin Bailey at 46 & 48 Wickenden.
Clarke’s home address is given as 58 Sheldon Street, which is also the address of John Clarke, “Carpenter & Builder”.
I strongly suspect that John (whose directory appearances and advertisements date back to 1850) was William’s father.
The Hunt’s store at 28 Market Street with his traveling wagon posed out front, complete with dog sitting in the front, 1860s. The man in the doorway is likely William E. Clarke, and the driver holding the reins may well be his traveling salesman W. B. Blanding. ( from a stereo view in Sheaff collection ).
William’s name does not appear again until 1864, at the end of the Civil War. Research in other sources indicate that he enrolled in the 11th Regiment of the Rhode Island Volunteers on September 15, 1862.
On November 4, 1863 Clarke married Emma P. Mason of Providence. In the 1864 directory he is listed as an apothecary at 233 South Main Street (“Corner of South Main and Transit Sts.”), and as boarding at 58 Williams Street. In 1866 he is listed as a clerk again, at 40 Weybosset Street (the address of Mason, Dawley & Baker, apothecaries).
Importantly to the story of his career, in 1866 the earliest advertisement for Hunt’s Remedy of Providence which I have so far uncovered (appearing on a broadsheet “The National Hotel Register”, December 5, 1866, Worcester, Massachusetts) lists “William E. Clarke, Proprietor, 28 Market Street, Providence.
” The 1867 Providence directory lists him as the proprietor of an apothecary at 28 Market Street. Later, in an 1883 Hunt’s Remedy “ABC” advertising pamphlet, Clarke states that Hunt’s Remedy “had been on the market several years prior to 1867” and also that “In 1867 Hunt’s Remedy attracted my particular attention”.
The most common Hunt’s Remedy trade card “Copyrighted 1883”