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• Works of Art
Books and Ephemera

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Works of Art: Books and Ephemera

Two related but separate categories within the Folger art collection are books and ephemera. The latter term, related to the adjective "ephemeral," refers to materials not originally intended to be permanently preserved, often inexpensive when new, and, in many cases, with a tendency to become fragile over time. Thus, comic books are an example that spans both categories.
Art Collection Books
Books in the art collection include extra-illustrated volumes, artist's books, picture books, and comic books. Popular in the nineteenth century, extra-illustration refers to the addition of related portraits, handwritten letters, and other materials to an existing printed work, which was often rebound and expanded into several volumes. Extra-illustration is also called "grangerizing," after James Granger's Biographical History of England, the first publication to undergo systematic extra-illustration. Extra-illustrated books are valuable aids to research into historical habits of collecting; on the open market, such works are today often at risk of dismantlement, with individual elements being sold separately. Artist's books represent quite a different, though equally distinct, type of book, one that itself becomes a work of art. Many are produced in only one copy, and may include neither text nor traditional book structure.
Art Collection Ephemera
The inclusive and diverse category of ephemera includes such works as scrapbooks, press kits and other publicity materials, illustrated souvenir programs for plays and movies, illustrated advertising, bookmarks, and tinsel prints. Tinsel prints, typically of actors in costume, had their heyday in the early 1800s. Enthusiasts purchased prints, then applied die-cut metal foils, or tinsel, as well as feathers, fabric, and other materials, to create stunning costumes. The recent donation of the Peggy Cass and Carl Fisher Collection of Tinsel Prints has made the Folger's holdings of this early nineteenth-century artform one of the major tinsel print collections in the world.
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George Scharf. Costumes francais de 1200 a 1715. Print, ca. 1830

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