People know the word ephemera but not exactly what it means.
It is in fact very specific and is transitory written and printed matter not intended to be retained or preserved. The word derives from the Greek, meaning things lasting no more than a day. Some collectible ephemera are advertising trade cards, airsickness bags, bookmarks, catalogues, greeting cards, letters, pamphlets, postcards, posters, prospectuses, stock certificates, tickets and zines. Decks of personality identification playing cards from the war in Iraq are a recent example.
The term covers a wide range of documents including leaflets, handbills, tickets, trade cards, programmes and playbills, printed tins and packaging, advertising inserts, posters, newspapers, etc.
Essentially produced to meet the needs of the day, such items reflect the moods and mores of past times in a way that more formal records cannot. Collectors of printed ephemera vary in their approach. Some focus on the ephemera of a particular trade or profession, others are interested in its social or graphic history. Other ephemerists collect documents simply as evocative reminders of the past.