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Two for a Nickel

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On Tuesday, 11 May, the Book Arts Press (BAP) opens the next in its ongoing
series of exhibitions with undergraduate curators:

        "Two for a Nickel:
        Ephemera Concerning Thomas Jefferson and Monticello"

The curator is Elliot Tally '99, a UVa history major who is interested in a
career in public history. For the past two years, he has worked part-time
in Alderman Library, where he supervises the Early American Fiction
digitization project.

Tally's exhibition, mounted by the BAP in cooperation with the Thomas
Jefferson Memorial Foundation (which owns and operates Monticello), will be
on view in the Dome Room of the Rotunda throughout the summer.

As part of the festivities surrounding the opening of the show, the BAP
announces  a Jefferson paper airplane flying contest on the Lawn on
Tuesday, 11 May, from 3 - 5 pm. The contest is open to all those with a UVa
affiliation (and also to members of their immediate families). A total of
$150 in cash prizes will be awarded.

For more about the contest, consult the Book Arts Press's Web site:


where downloadable instructions for making a particularly distance-worthy
Jefferson paper airplane may be found.

"Two for a Nickel" features a wide variety of items that use the appeal of
the name, or face, or residence of Thomas Jefferson for information,
publicity, or consumer purposes. The practice of using celebrities to
advertise products, services, and events has been used for hundreds of
years by an endless number of entrepreneurs. "Two for a Nickel" documents
this practice through the display of a collection of ephemeral objects.

*Ephemera* may be defined as objects that are meant to be thrown away after
use. Items such as brochures, invitations to events, paper placemats,
menus, wooden ice cream spoons, license plates, and whiskey bottles fit
this description comfortably =96 but what about things that began their
existence as throw-aways but have now turned into collectibles? The
definition of ephemera must become far more complex. This exhibition
includes a surprising variety of ephemeral objects which have evolved (or
are in the process of evolving) into serious collectors' items: ashtrays,
bank checks, coin banks, beer cans, beer bottles, bells, bobelles,
bookmarks, booklets, bowls, busts, calendars, Christmas tree ornaments,
cigar bands, cigarette souvenirs, club soda, coins, cologne bottles,
coloring books, copies of the Declaration of Independence, dolls, encased
pennies, erasers, food containers, fuse boxes, games, gift catalogs,
"Jefferson" cups, jigger glasses, keychains, letter openers, magazines,
magnets, matchbooks, medallions, milk bottles, milk caps, models, money
clips, mugs, nail clippers, needle threaders, newsletters, oversize
nickels, paper dolls, paperweights, patches, pencils, pendants, pens, Pepsi
bottles, phonograph albums, pins, pitchers, plates, playing cards,
postcards, posters, pressed pennies, prints, rulers, shopping bags, shoe
mitts, shower caps, snow globes, spoons, stamps, sticker books,
switchplates, tea towels, thimbles, tickets, trade cards, model trains,
T-shirts, $2 bills, wine bottles, writing tablets =96 the list goes on and
on. Examples of all of these items (and a good many others) are represented
in "Two for a Nickel."

There are many counties and towns named after Jefferson or Monticello. The
majority of the 50 states have a Jefferson County, and there at least nine
U.S. cities, towns, or villages named Jeffersons =96 plus five
Jeffersonvilles, two Jefferson Cities, a Jefferson Township, a Jefferson
Valley, a Jefferson Village, and at least twelve Monticellos. In
preparation for this exhibition, curator Elliot Tally wrote to
administrators in about three dozen of these counties and towns, begging
for examples of local Jeffersonian ephemera.

Elliot Tally is looking for additional examples of such
Monticello/Jefferson material; if you know of local establishments with
these words in their names and have access to their stationery, business
cards, brochures, newsletters, or other printed matter, we would be very
glad to have copies, which should be sent to Elliot Tally, Book Arts Press,
114 Alderman Library, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22903.

Notable objects in "Two for a Nickel" include:

        .  a scale model kit of the Polaris class atomic submarine, "Thomas

        .  a complete set of Presidential Marbles

        .  a Jefferson Massage Salon (Monticello, IN) encased penny

        .  a Thomas Jefferson doll

        .  a "Long Tom Jefferson, Sage of Monticello" Cracker Jack prize
        .  the press kit for "Jefferson in Paris," accompanied by

        .  a pirated DVD (with Chinese subtitles) of the movie

        . a souvenir medal from the 1904 St Louis World's Fair ("Napoleon sold it
| Jefferson bought it"!

        .  a comprehensive display of Monticello souvenir plates, and (best of all)

        .  a "Choose your Virginia Attractions" publicity brochure (issued by the
Virginia State Tourism Board) advertising Virginia's important landmarks -
but excluding Monticello, Poplar Forest, and the University of Virginia

The exhibition will be up during Rare Book School's 1999 summer session; it
closes on October 25th. An illustrated catalog of the show will be
published later this month.

Terry Belanger  :  University Professor  :   University of Virginia
Book Arts Press : 114 Alderman Library : Charlottesville, VA  22903
Tel: 804/924-8851   FAX: 804/924-8824  email: belanger@virginia.edu
              URL: http://www.virginia.edu/oldbooks/

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