I Love Ephemera!
A Rare Ticket

I love ephemera! By that term, I mean things that were produced for a single use, or for short term enjoyment, before being discarded or thrown away. They are literally ‘ephemeral’, which is where the term is obviously derived from. Good examples are tickets, flyers and similar promotional material, or even things like ‘sample cups’ produced by brands such as Coca Cola so you can taste their world-famous drink. Ephemera is typically made from paper or card, and is usually printed. It also often has a strong social history element.
Even if I can’t find anything of interest to buy for stock or my collection in an antiques shop, centre or antiquarian bookshop, I nearly always find something interesting to buy in a basket or box full of photos and such papery things.
A good example is this ticket, which I found on a recent visit to Henley-on-Thames, where I stumbled across the truly excellent Richard Way Books. Although there were plenty of books I could have bought, my budget was tight and I decided on some ephemera including this ticket for a party 60 years ago in June. Here’s why.

  • I love the colour – it’s as fresh today as it was in June 1954 when the party kicked off. I love how the almost neon pink border sets off the graduated flamingo pink.
  • I love the diecut edges which echo the off-set ‘MID-SUMMER MADNESS’ wording.
  • It was produced for a party held at the Porchester Hall by the Students’ Union of the Polytechnic on Regents St, London, which is known today as the University of Westminster. The Student’s Union (note the inverted comma crime!) was pretty new in 1954 – in fact some sources connected to the university state that their students’ union didn’t exist until the 1960s. This ticket proves otherwise.
  • The students’ union there went on to host many greats, including Jimmy Hendrix, Cream and Pink Floyd. Although Ben Oakley & his Orchestra sadly didn’t make it big in the same way, they seem to have been popular and successful, and performed from the 1930s-50s.
  • I love the mention of balloons – what a treat!
  • It states ‘DRESS OPTIONAL’ – does that mean guests could turn up naked?!
  • It’s in amazing condition – part of me wonders if its original owner couldn’t go, or whether something special happened at the dance that night that made him or her keep it safe…

A small card, but a pretty big story. And, despite its obvious rarity (it may even be a unique survivor), as small price too as it only cost me the princely sum of 50 pence. This also goes to show that just because something is rare, it isn’t always valuable – at least financially.

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