THE RELIGIOUS AND SOCIAL SIGNIFICANCE OF METHODIST TICKETS, AND ASSOCIATED PRACTICES OF COLLECTING AND RECOLLECTING, 1741-2017
Among all the paper ephemera surviving from eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century Britain, the humble Methodist ticket has attracted little attention from scholars and collectors. Issued quarterly to members as a testimonial to religious conduct, many still exist, reflecting the sheer quantity produced by 1850, and the significance of keeping practices, where Methodist habits were distinctive. This article explores first the origin and spread of tickets primarily within British Methodism, but also noting its trans-oceanic contexts. Apparently inconsequential objects, they shaped experience and knowledge, illuminating eighteenth-century religious life, female participation, and plebeian agency. Discussion then turns to patterns of saving and memorialization that from the 1740s preserved Methodists’ tickets. Such practices extended the life-cycle of the individual ticket and created the accidents of its survival, giving it new uses as an institutional resource. In recovering the dead, it acquired nostalgic value, but other capacities were lost and forgotten. The ticket’s origins, uses, and preservation intersect with major historical and historiographical currents to complicate established narratives of print, urban association, and commerce, and to present alternative understandings of collecting.