Thursday, April 12, 2018

Lost Corners of the Internet: Arnaz receipt & other Paper Matters

There are many, many ephemera-themed blogs in cyberspace, so thank you for reading this one. They are all worthwhile, though, especially the blogs that have permanently signed off and are just adrift on the Internet, waiting for someone's oddball Google search to help them wash ashore somewhere. (Wow, that's a bad analogy.)

Those shuttered blogs are, of course, potential Lost Corners of the Internet.

Texas bookseller Chuck Whiting has authored at least two ephemera blogs during the past decade. The first was Bibliophemera (, which ran from January 2008 until November 2015 and had a fairly robust 281 posts during that time. Topics ranged from "Dutch Treat: Bookseller & Bookbinder Tickets" to "J.R. Osgood, the Harvard Book, and Dickensiana," with an interesting essay on digital ephemera mixed in.1

Bibliophemera is clearly a blog that Whiting put much effort into. But his interests were also clearly wide-ranging, so he had a second ephemera blog. This one was called Paper Matters ( and it was subtitled "Discoveries along the never-ending paper trail of ephemera." It launched after Bibliophemera, running for 36 posts from January 2009 until April 2012. Perhaps Whiting had an idea about how Paper Matters would differ from Bibliophemera, but it's not immediately clear what the distinction was. And, with just three dozen posts, Paper Matter didn't have quite the staying power of Bibliophemera.

Still, Paper Matters should be remembered too, and is certainly in greater danger of tumbling into a Lost Corner and never being seen again. That would be a shame. There's some interesting stuff in those three dozen Paper Matters posts, including the receipt for Desi and Lucy Arnaz's groceries highlighted at the top. Other intriguing posts include:

Great and worthwhile stuff, all of it. Who will be the archival champion of all this history?

1. Of digital ephemera, Whiting wrote in 2010: "Libraries around the world are creating digital archives of not only books, but historical documents and ephemera as well. As ephemera (that which is transitory and short-lived) has come to be synonymous with collectible paper, can a digital representation, a copy of the original, even be squeezed into the definition? Or will the definition expand enough with time to include digital copies?"

1 comment:

  1. Hi Chris,

    Thanks for the kind words about my blogs. I prefer to think of them as being on an unintended and extended hiatus. I never meant to quit writing for them; business and life slowly eroded my spare time for such pursuits. But I have about 50 drafts still waiting to get fleshed out and I hope to return soon.

    Bibliophemera was focused solely on book trade-related ephemera. As I collected more and more interesting ephemera that had no connection to bookselling, but still mattered to me, I started Paper Matters. Its "focus" was everything else paper.

    Both were preceded by a blog called Archaeolibris (, which dealt with interesting things found among the leaves of old books, either a physical object left as a bookmark or an interesting passage or theme in the printed text. That one probably is shuttered. Its focus tended to wander, but it gave me the idea for another one that dealt with writing found in books--marginalia, provenance, etc. That one I called Writing in Books ( It was fun and most entries were relatively brief. I still come across interesting marginalia and notation in the books I acquire for my inventory, but the time thing got in the way with that blog also. Hope to get back to it as well.

    I've just discovered your blog and have enjoyed the little I've read very much. I look forward to reading more. I had even thought a few years back I would just roll all my blogs into one, similar to yours, and not have four or five to deal with (there's an ill-fated fifth out there that dealt, or wanted to deal with, verse about books).

    Anyway, good to come across your writing and I'll add a link to it on my blogs for whomever still finds them.

    Kind regards,