Thursday, 31 January 2013

Ephemera


Ephemera is a gorgeous word to say aloud, when spoken softly it gives a hint to its meaning - those delicate slices of the everyday never intended to last. Old things come with history no matter how mundane and this is partly what draws me in when I see a battered suitcase or a pristine decades-old teacup, my imagination is captured and suddenly I'm inventing a story - little details of whose hands it passed through and how it came to be where I spotted it. Vintage ephemera though, is even more magical in some ways - ticket stubs, hastily scribbled notes, snapshots and shopping lists which should have had the transient life of a butterfly somehow become a legacy through escaping the bin over and over.  Where a 1920s beaded bag makes me wonder what sort of glamourous parties it was carried to, a bread and butter letter sent the next day thanking the hostess for a lovely evening fills in a few gaps. In a dream world the two would rock up together - one posing all the questions and the other answering with tantalising snippets - this never happens. Or not to me at least! 

One of my friends asked me why I had so many photos of people I didn't know who were most likely dead by now when she saw an open box stuffed with black and white images. Good question. I think it's because in every picture there is a person who was treasured by someone, and even with a date or place written on the back there are stories about each image I will never know. So I'll carry on picking up interesting old photos, pretty vintage postcards and well-read letters when I come across them, they're a beautiful escape to enjoy over a cup of tea every so often.

26 comments:

  1. Such a beautiful post. I share your love of the seemingly mundane.

    Franky xxx

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  2. A wonderful post as always :) I love old photos and letters. And old postcards are my favourite. They're always written in such beautiful handwriting. I don't think we care about out presentation as much as we used to :)

    Jen | sunny sweet pea xx

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  3. gorgeous, amazing post Jem! the photos tell a story in themselves and your words are exquisite as always. you always find ways to express yourself so eloquently. I'm jelaous! Old letters are really intriguing and old photos make me sad in a weird way but I still like them x

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  4. It's truly fascinating and so deeply treasurable. I am always drawn to old letters and stamps - the letter writer in me imagines what it was like back then - no Emails, Tweets or texts, just a sheet of paper. Things were far more poignant back then xxx

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  5. You are so right - ephemera - beautiful. I think that one of the fascinating things about old photographs is that it lets our imagination take over in wondering about the lives of the people. Lovely post.
    Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

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  6. I most definitely agree- I've always, since I was a child, wondered about the lives of those in old photos- made to stand for ages for the photo to be taken- and all the little bits of social ephemera too, they're always so fascinating. xxx

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  7. Exactly! I don't have a shoe box full of old pictures, but whenever I see one at the thrift store or antique market or wherever else, it always hurts my heart a little bit. That was a person who was loved and is now forgotten. Good on you for collecting them and remembering them.

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  8. Great blog and nice post ;) I will be here more often, I'm your new follower. Don't forget to visit my blog too!

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  9. This post is so beautiful! And ephemera IS a lovely word! :)

    Rosie x

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  10. I share your love of ephemera, and cannot help but wonder and imagine the lives of the people in them. Photos with writing on the back are my favorites though; I always search for them and they add just that extra touch of interest.

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  11. Ooh, I love all the antique looking pictures and cards.

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  12. i love the very top pictures!for me when i look at very old photo's i love looking at the dresses the women are wearing, it's so interesting to see how the fashions that seem oddly disjointed can actually be linked together and as a phase moves in, a phase moves out!but that's my rambling thoughts, i love your nail varnish in the last photo as well!annie x

    www.cheramiblogger.blogspot.co.uk

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  13. What a lovely collection, I especially like the two photographs in the first picture. Wonderful.

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  14. You're right, ephemera is a great word, I bet there's a little Ephemera somewhere in a reception class right now - you should baggsy it if for if you ever have a daughter!

    I remember seeing an old notebook of my Mum's from when she was about my age, it was oddly fascinating just seeing her 'to-do' lists and what to buy for our birthday parties.

    xx

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  15. I love how the lady in the first photos is giggling, it's something I think of as so modern in photography! Such a wonderful moment captured forever. I reckon we'd all like to think that after we're long gone some stranger out there might still treasure that letter, or a photo, or even a BT bill from our everyday lives. I think that's why I've always liked keeping a diary. x

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  16. Oh, I adore ephemera and it is a delightful word. So enjoyed your blog. You are a very classy lady and write so well.
    Linda

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  17. That sounds like so much fun! Sitting over a cup of tea and making up stories about people's past... I used to do that with friends, but sitting at a restaurant and making up a conversation between two people - usually a couple's first date. You could put together bits of your collections into the story too - like this was her postcard, this was her teacup, this was her book. I think you should write a book one day about one of your imagined stores :)

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  18. What a wonderful post! I love looking at old photos and reading postcards/letters of people I have no connection too. I build a story in my mind and imagine what their life was like, I can daydream about it for hours.

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  19. I love the idea of collecting other people's letters and postcards! Such a curious thing, peeping into someone else's life. You should write some fiction to go with every second hand item you purchase for the blog! I would love to read that :) xx

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  20. I love the ephemera too. And imagining the story behind these photos and the people in them. Fascinating!

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  21. love this so much!! thanks for sharing :)

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  22. I love that you appreciate old photos and stamps!

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  23. GIVE ME ALL YOUR STUFF! I think we are twins. I love old photographs and trying to piece together the little bits of history that come with each one. I'm seriously in love with your blog! x

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  24. Cool..seems you have been bitten by the old photo bug too..glad to know I am not alone:) Connie at Forgotten Old Photos

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  25. beautiful just beautiful.
    I too collect old photographs. They are lovely and I cannot help but think about them and their lives, their names even!
    Ps. Stamp envy right there!
    xxx

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