Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Black and white and no longer read all over

I wonder if anyone ever buys the old newspapers that old people save? Pretty sure everyone at this estate sale passed over these crumbling broadsheets with their milestone headlines—JFK's funeral, Macarthur's death, a tribute to Natalie Wood in the "ladies' pages." I know I did, though I did pause long enough to instagram them. And I say this as a person who still has the local rag delivered to her doorstep (well, the mouth of my driveway, not the doorstep literally) and gets the New York Times on Sundays (though I don't want to calculate how much that bit of sentimentality is costing me). I have a basketful of magazine, catalog and newspaper clippings in my office, and in my Big Scary Closet Full of Ephemera and Holiday Decorations, you'll find my own collection of saved newspapers—the Times and the NY Post from the week of 9/11, as well as a pile of British papers trumpeting Princess Di's death (it so happened I was in England during that crazy time).

Of course I haven't stored them properly in archival boxes or wrapped them in acid-free paper so they're going to deteriorate just like the ones here, which had been saved for decades and then...what? Thrown away, I imagine. Hopefully recycled. With the advent all things digital, an entire category of vintage goodness is vanishing: ephemera. Transient bits of paper that were never meant to be saved, but we saved them anyway. Wikipedia lists the following as "collectible ephemera": advertising trade cards, airsickness bags, bookmarks, catalogues, greeting cards, letters, pamphlets, postcards, prospectuses, stock certificates, tickets and zines. I'm trying to imagine a clean, streamlined. umusty future where there's no ephemera, except for airsickness bags. I don't see a digital alternative for those, yet.


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