WHAT HAPPENED IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS AND WHAT SHOUDL WE BE DOING IN THE FUTURE?
FAIRS: September 2022 and May 2023 (and September 2023)
In September we had a good array of stalls with regular, sometime and new dealers present.
In May 2023 we had fewer stalls with some older stallholders opting out. We had to fill the space with some tables for viewing material. Special thanks to Debra Parry who took over the responsibility of running the day and letting me stay away from the fair. Wendi Bradshaw took a useful survey of those attending – this leaves a gap in our information – why don’t other members attend?
Thank you to Garry James, Debra Parry and David Harris for front of house at the fairs, assisted by Rhonda James, Kris Waters, Wendi Bradshaw and Andrew Hillier. Kris again ran successful ESA stalls selling material donated to the ESA. Kris sorted and displayed the material in a way that encouraged sales.
In September 2023 we cancelled the fair at a couple of weeks’ notice as we had even fewer stallholders. This led to of course disappointment and a few usual stallholders coming out of the woodwork and saying that they could take a stall after all. It was extra disappointing as we had an offer of a display of significant badges by Chris Meallin.
Follow up: should the fairs proceed?
- Can we just run them in the hall and temper expectations? Will that work financially?
- Should we find a new smaller venue?
- Is there anyone willing to take over organizing the fairs?
SHOW & TELLS AND A SWAP MEETS were run by Edwin. These have attracted reasonable numbers albeit only the odd new member.
Follow up: we will be canvassing what we can do to improve these really interesting and friendly events. We have been restricted to Friday nights because of room availability at Camberwell.
THE SYMPOSIUM was held in July in the church itself. Once again, we had a great array of speakers and an informed and interested audience. Debra Parry ran the event for the first time with some assistance from Wendi Bradshaw. Debra thought that there was a lot of work to run this annually.
Follow up: Should we do it annually? If yes, how do we reduce the workload?
RARE BOOK WEEK TALKS once again we contributed here.
ZOOM MEETINGS continued ideally to cater for those who cannot come to the symposium.
These have been held about very 6-8 weeks and attendance has varied with the topics. We set these up at the request of those who can’t come to events in Melbourne but to date those attending seem mainly to be in Melbourne.
Follow up: we will ask if there is a better time, or other topics our interstaters and country members would prefer.
THE ANNUAL DINNER was once again it was a great opportunity to talk about collecting – tall tales and true. We had about 30 in attendance and needed three tables which is a great advance on our first dinners. Thank you to Edwin for organising.
- PRESIDENT ACTIVITIES:
- I continued to give talks about why local history societies should keep collecting ephemera to: Waverley Historical Society May 2023; the Waverley U3A group May 2023.
We ran the usual renewal process albeit by email where we could and had a reasonable response. The current membership situation is:
- 106 paid up members (down from 156);
- 21 of these are in Vic country (down from 23);
- 33 are interstate (down from 37);
- And about 56 are lapsed (increase from 50).
- 24 new members between May 2022 and October 2023.
The membership fees have remained the same for possibly 10 years and don’t actually cover the costs of the publications.
I count in this section: Facebook, Instagram, website, newsletter and journal.
Facebook – we have about 1300 followers (100 more than this time last year), not many in Facebook land and it is not as active as say a Facebook group.
Kris Waters and I got briefly involved as administrators in a Facebook private group Australian Ephemera which is a very active site where you can show items; get advice and sell items in a few different ways – auction, fix a price or simply offer for the best price and withdraw the time if not satisfied. Many ESA members are members. We have been able to advertise events on the site and reach more collectors. Kris and I both decided that we didn’t want to be administrators (too much communication) but the main person Jenny Scott does a great job.
Instagram – Mimmo Cozzolino has plugged away at this posting many interesting items – not sure that it has resulted in any significant direct benefits for the ESA.
The website has a new server and so fewer problems. It does need other people interested in posting stories. Some people aren’t keen to have their stories on the website – they want to be in print which I guess it the natural prerogative of ephemera collectors but we get a good range of different people reading and commenting here. We had 242 subscribers – most of whom are not members.
The quarterly newsletter has had a good kick along thanks to the energy and efforts of Wendi Bradshaw and Susannah Low. We are I think still finding our feet as to the best mix of content, but interviewing members seems to be a good option and Wendi is working on these. In 2022 we posted out a separate calendar to current and lapsed members and hope this will stop the need for constant reminders about events. BUT there has been a lapse in publishing since March 2023 when I went overseas.
The journal is always in the pipeline and we are a fair bit behind at the moment. A special issue focussing on kookaburras is almost ready. Thanks to contributors and also Mimmo Cozzolino who of course brings the ephemera and so the journal into a class of its own. We always need material for the journal so please come forward with ideas, collections.
THE ESA COMMITTEE
The committee has met when it can and provided a useful source of ideas and as a sounding board for others. Thanks to Garry James, secretary, Edwin, treasurer and symposium organiser, general members Debra Parry, and members/ex officio attendees Wendi Bradshaw, Mimmo Cozzolino and Philip Moorhouse (and Annette Shiell who usually offers advice outside meetings). We are now meeting by zoom for meetings that last for an hour which we hope will be more effective and accessible to more people.
- FUTURE PLANS
We always have these.
- Carolyn Fraser is running a trial oral history project – interviewing four collectors about why they collect. The interviews will be for about an hour; and a transcript will be made. Excerpts will be used by the ESA to keep documenting and telling the stories of collecting.
- The National Trust of Victoria may provide an opportunity for small displays by groups like the ESA.
- There are also opportunities which others might like to pick up – an event that fits into:
- The National Trust History month;
- Rare Books week;
- The Clunes Book fair.
The ESA committee would like to see responsibility for the activities spread a bit more widely.
I would like to finish as president in the next three years and Edwin (treasurer and event organiser) and Garry (secretary and fair front of house) have similar plans. So please think about how you might say volunteer 4-10 hours per year to help run discrete parts of the ESA.
Thanks for your support, interest and collecting.
Mandy Bede, current president of ESA