He displays each of these items in the “Museum of Innocence” he has created -- with the aim of “transforming time into a place” -- after Füsun exits from his life. In a sense, Kemal, who searches for days for particular objects, is a real ephemera collector.
And these days, this is a kind of collection whose popularity is growing, with more and more interest being shown in auctions of people’s ephemeral effects in various spots all over İstanbul. This interest, which is quite widespread throughout Europe, has collectors searching everywhere for the detritus of past daily life, looking through antique shops, Web sites and flea markets for such seemingly innocuous items as diplomas, report cards, newspaper clippings, promotional brochures, business cards, bank drafts, candy and gum wrappers, posters, passports, postcards and wedding invitations.
Along these lines, the İstanbul Auction House’s upcoming ephemera sale on March 22, being held at İstanbul Dedeman Hotel, will attract many collectors of ephemera. A wide range of objects and items stretching all the way from Ottoman times to modern daily life will find new owners at this auction. The owner of İstanbul Auction House, Uğur Yeğin, notes that in the process of the formation of the Turkish Republic, all ties with the past were broken. “Recently there has been a great deal of interest in auctions of ephemera. Society wants to return to its original ties. In fact, Turkey is certainly one of the nations where demand for ephemera is higher. I suppose we could say that this interest began during the Turgut Özal era [in the 1980s]. Many things have changed since then, and there is a sense of being at peace with the Ottoman past, but of course, there are those people who don’t want ties to the past and who are not curious about the past,” he says.
‘Ephemera is not purchased with the aim of making a profit’
Generally, collectors of ephemera are quite detail-oriented and interested in making discoveries. Their interest in collecting such ephemera is not in making a profit for themselves. You can find people interested in ephemera in every segment of society. Yeğin notes that while the profiles of people who go to auctions of paintings and antiques are quite similar to one another, this is not the case for those who attend ephemera auctions. He points to an interest in history as the uniting characteristic in ephemera collectors.
Two İstanbul districts rich in possibilities for collectors of ephemera are Nişantaşı and Kadıköy. Perhaps this is because these are spots where old İstanbul families once lived in force. Since Turkish society tends not to be so at peace with the past, antique sellers and auction houses find that they have many items flowing in.
Commenting on what drives collectors of ephemera, Yeğin says: “Ephemera is not purchased to make a profit. When it comes to paintings and objects, yes, these are items in which the buyer is making an investment. Also, while people purchase paintings and objects in a flush of enjoyment, it is simply to enjoy that ephemera collectors buy their items. This is something for which people need to adjust their personal budgets.”
And so it appears that the desire for what has already passed will never end; better save those old beads and little bits and pieces from days gone by. You never know, after all, just what they might mean to your grandkids!