At the Warson Woods Antiques Gallery, several dealers offer merchandise in the Books & Ephemeras category. These items include: rare first edition and out-of-print books, as well as pamphlets; other paper collectibles such as maps and charts; also, vintage ephemerae such as advertisements, broadsides, memorabilia postcards, photos, posters, stamps, and tickets.
There are many levels of book collecting. Some readers want to collect all the titles written by their favorite author, some collectors want first editions only, and still others want to buy the most rare copy of a title that’s available.
In the case of the casual collector who wants to fill out their favorite author’s list of books, shop for copies in the best condition you can find, and preferably, with their original slipcovers still attached. Don’t buy ex-library copies or price-clipped books. Follow these guidelines and you’ll be well on your way to building a fine personal library.
Some collectors only buy first editions. In this case, the collector should decide what kind of “first” edition is in their budget. Generally the more rare a copy is, the more valuable. A first edition is usually considered the first hardbound release by the publisher of the book. If it is also a first-impression (also known as the “first printing”), this increases the value of the book further. First impressions are usually proof copies sent to reviewers or the publisher, but there are other types. If one of these first impressions is also signed, or has a special inscription, this increases its value. Another thing to remember is that not all first edition, first impression books are costly. As with everything to do with book collecting, value depends on the author, rarity, and the condition of the book itself.
Like book collectors, ephemeras collectors want items to be in the best possible condition, and rarity is again also a factor. Ephemeras are collectible memorabilia printed on paper. Finding these items in good condition can be difficult because, by their nature, ephemeras were not meant to last; they are basically disposables that came to have worth later on. Also like books, sunlight is the worst enemy of these types of collectibles because it fades them. Moisture damage, also called foxing, can lessen an item’s value too. As a final tip: Should you say ephemerae or ephemeras? It’s really your choice. Ephemerae is the strictly correct form, but ephemeras is also widely accepted.