By Moira F. Harris
When Ibn Battuta, Marco Polo, and Father Hennepin set off on their journeys they lacked travel information. What they had were probably some maps,
ancient accounts written by past wanderers, and not always up-to-date word-of-mouth data. When they returned home, their stories would inform and fuel the dreams of others who sought to explore, convert, or conquer.
For the traveler there have been ever since sources such as travel literature (like theirs) and guides ranging from Baedeker to Lonely Planet and Rick Steves for tourists of every economic level. The transportation companies -- land, sea, or air -- have provided a wealth of ephemera including luggage labels, brochures, posters, tickets, postcards, schedules, calendars and much more.
Upon arrival at a destination the collector of travel ephemera could find more brochures, postcards, business cards, matchbooks, and posters.
On recent trips another type of ephemera was noted. Small cards, measuring four inches tall by three inches wide are available often displayed in racks in tourist offices, hotels and restaurants. They promote places to stay, eat, and visit.
In southwestern France, for example, the Aquitaine Tourisme organization printed cards that explained how to visit the Bordelais vignoble. On one side was a view of the vineyard (often featuring the same chateau seen on its wine labels) and on the other was the history of the vineyard, listing what wines it produced, and when and how one could visit. The presentation was bilingual, in French and English.
These travel cards were first seen in 2000, but since then, in 2011, similar cards have been spotted, and saved, produced for hotels in the same area as well as in Asuncion, Paraguay, suggesting that this form of ephemera is reaching new audiences in many regions.