Sometimes doing this you get items in you fall in love with and almost don't want to sell! This grouping of St. Louis bus passes certainly falls into that category for me.
The funny thing is that they're not the prettiest collectible I've ever seen, and while some are quite nice, the overall condition isn't the greatest. It's not quite the rarity of these movie bus passes which has me so attached to them, but instead the condition leading to their rarity. Best put, that condition is best stated as so ephemeral that I'm amazed I have the opportunity to handle them.
Ephemera is a funny term. There's a national society dedicated to the collecting of it, a social network that I'm a member of built around it, as well as highly trafficked and informative blogs about it, such as Marty Weil's ephemera blog and Tom Murphy's Encore Ephemera, two men passionate about the subject and that I'm lucky enough to count among my friends within the hobby world. Yet the definition of ephemera itself is so wide that it's basically open for interpretation.
Here's my own definition of ephemera: items unintended to be kept, but which were. Most often these items are paper based, though sometimes I'm willing to stretch that part of the definition.
Can you think of something better fitting that description than a bus pass? The funny thing is, if you don't keep your bus pass it's no longer ephemera, in the short term it's garbage and in the long term it's forgotten as if it had never existed. Is ephemera junk? I mean, what use is a 60 or 70 year old bus pass, it must be junk, right. Ah, no, see my reference to the short term above. Extending this definition of ephemera it is again by its very nature, not junk. If it were junk, garbage, or whatever other negative term you can think of, it wouldn't be here.
So is anything saved ephemera then? No. Many items have been issued which were intended to be collected and kept. It gets tricky though and is very subjective. For instance, I'll argue that a tobacco card is ephemera, that a bubble gum card may be ephemera, but that any trading card issued in a pack containing nothing but other trading cards is not ephemeral, but instead considered a collectible from an outset.
The following point digresses from the main idea some, but just let me say this--most anything issued as collectible is in actuality the least collectible of collectibles. Do you get me? In other words, you can't manufacture collectible. Collectibles are collected because of the collector's natural desire to collect them. Most often the item issued as collectible is issued, printed, manufactured, etc., in such quantity that there will never be any future demand. Thus, to beat up on an old example, a JFK Memorial magazine or in more modern times say a Lady Di tribute magazine are poor collectibles. Why? Because they were issued in great quantity to meet current demand, not only that, but they were often kept. A collectible requires future demand, otherwise ain't nobody collecting it.
Magazines are actually an interesting case when referencing ephemera. Try Googling ephemera and magazines, and I can tell you I spent the better part of one night doing so, and you'll find no clear-cut association between the two. In fact it seems to be a sticky subject, are magazines ephemera? There is little doubt that magazine ads are, but what about the entire issue? I go back to my own definition above, items unintended to be kept, but which were, and say that they are. I'll go a step further and say that bound volumes are not, as the very purpose of several issues of a magazine being bound together is to keep them, to maintain them.
So, back to my bus passes. These were weekly passes issued to riders in St. Louis which contained an advertisement for a current movie on them including an image of the stars. I suppose technically they're stubs, as there is a perforation at the left edge where I assume the bus driver detached the portion of the bus pass allowing for the ride.
My own infactuation with them is one of the fun parts of being a dealer. Items I put for sale have a certain value put on them by me based largely on what I paid for them. In addition the perceived value is factored in, for instance, if there's any kind of price guide I'll use it to do exactly that, guide me. I also have developed enough of an eye that I'll factor in my own perceived value, in other words I'll tap the price guide I keep in my head, as I find it far more accurate than anything anyone else has ever printed.
When an item I love meets my own perceived value I'm in the enviable position of declaring that value with the attitude of this is what it's worth to me. If you don't like my price, find another. Chances are you can't.
You'll find all of my World War II era St. Louis bus passes featuring Movie Stars here for as long as I have them ... and I bet that's not too long:
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