How to Turn Old Paper Into Hard Cash

A good example of ephemera - Vintage Lawn Tennis brochures.

A good example of ephemera – Vintage Lawn Tennis brochures.

Over the last couple of weekends I’ve attended two separate summer fetes, both hosted in nearby villages.

Each fete was entirely different, but they did have something in common when all said and done.

‘The Midsomer Murders Fete’

Well… I call it a ‘Midsomer Murders’ fete because it so reminds me of the popular TV programme, which until recently starred John Nettles as DCI Barnaby.

The first episode of Midsomer Murders, entitled ‘The Killings at Badger’s Drift’ was broadcast in the UK in 1997. Viewing figures for the series were healthy initially and they still consistently exceed 6 million even today.

This ever-popular TV series is always filmed in idyllic settings; usually featuring a quaint village with a pond, a local flint church with a somewhat suspicious vicar, and the sound of willow on leather emanating from a cricket match in play.

Furthermore, there also always seems to be a summer fete, taking place on the village green.

The fete I attended two weeks ago was just like that – idyllic.

I’ve been a regular to that same village fete over the years, partly because my old dad likes to visit its wonderful display of vintage cars. As an event, the fete is always incredibly well organised, with marching bands, pony rides, a beer tent and even a Punch & Judy stand for the kids.

What’s more, the signage for the different events is perfect and the stalls are well manned by a smiling troop of helpers… and of course, the sun always seems to shine.

‘The Fete Worse Than Death’

This fete took place only last Saturday and is located about 20 paces from my driveway.

I could see them setting up their stalls from my upstairs window… I could also see the thunder clouds rolling in!

By contrast, this fete was a complete disaster!

The rain came down in torrents, soaking the marching band, which preceded a gaggle of soggy school children, all dressed in Roman Centurion costume.

These poor kids more resembled a soggy Worzel Gummidge than Russell Crowe from Gladiator.

And I’m still waiting for the phone call telling me that my duck (plastic) came first in the annual duck race.

Hundreds of these plastic blighters are hurled in the river every year, with an identifying number attached, and the winning duck is the first one floating past the pub down-river… except the river was moving a bit too swiftly this year for ‘the catchers’ to fish out the early contenders.

(I’m sure the beer had nothing to do with it.)

Well the sun did come out in the end, so did the customers… so all’s well that ends well.

The common factor – at both of these fetes, I was able to buy some really great items of ephemera.

The term ‘ephemera’ is defined as, ‘collectable items that were originally expected to have only short-term usefulness or popularity’.

Paper-based items, such as old menus, brochures, posters, tickets and letters are a perfect example of ephemera. They were originally designed for short-term use, and were usually discarded.

Some items of ephemera can be really quite collectible today… particularly if they relate to some event or date of significance from the past.

I snapped up the three early Wimbledon tennis programmes – illustrated above – for just a couple of pounds, and I think I’ll try my luck selling them on eBay.

There are two points worth making here:

  • Summer fete’s, or any other similar one-day events, are great places to snap up such bargains – because all the goods for sale have been donated, so the prices are not high. Furthermore, they really want everything to be sold during a few short hours. The last thing they want is to have to take it away and store it for another year. So price is never really a problem.
  • Timing is everything! – when buying topical or seasonal-related items, such as my Wimbledon brochures, it’s important to get them ready for sale to correspond with the timing of the event in question. If I get my items listed on eBay for a short three-day sale, then maybe that’s OK. Otherwise, it would be better for me to hold them back until just prior next year’s Wimbledon.

Notwithstanding summer fetes – always keep your eyes peeled for good date or event orientated items of ephemera.

Within my new website, The Profit Box, I am publishing a new blueprint today, which is a perfect example of collectible ephemera. I’ve run out of room to elaborate further here, but if you want to take a peek at this great profitable and collectible niche, click here:

Until next week, happy hunting!

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