That the sale succeeded endorses the collecting concept and may encourage collectors to pursue ephemera and auction houses to court such collections. Today the primary marketplace for ephemera is eBay where the knowledgeable pounce on under and often mis-described lots posted by sellers who have no idea of the importance and rarity of their random scraps of paper. Some day there will be databases, possibly employing image recognition, which let the larger market see such material as it emerges for sale. For the moment, patience, experience and high intelligence are the gatekeepers that keep trading at the ‘discovery level’, thin.
Once such collections are built their governing concepts, in the hands of skilled cataloguers, will become understandable to the world at large. As was the case with the recent Caren sale, random purchases over decades, when organized as a well-thought out catalogue, illuminate and confirm the concept: the process, as Mr. Caren would explain it, of creating history on paper. Without doubt, the concept will encourage greater interest in ephemera and random items on paper that have for years been a backwater in the collecting pantheon.
The immediate challenge for collectors interested in this category of collectibles is learning to develop a collection without benefit of substantial research resources. Ephemera are both more complex and obscure than books, the shear magnitude of possibilities hundreds of times greater than their more physically substantial brethren. The AED aggressively pursues auctions of ephemera but it will be years, and take roughly five million ephemera records, to provide the same type of clarity for ephemera that today exists for books, manuscripts and maps. In the mean time Mr. Caren and Swann Galleries have confirmed that ephemera are a substantial and rewarding category.
Congratulations are in order.
Link here to the sale results.
entire sale and separately the lots that brought the highest prices.