Ephemera Society Member Web Sites

Members of the Ephemera Society have embraced the Internet, and many of them have their own web sites that reflect their collecting interests. While all of the sites are informative and educational, three represent the diversity of ephemera that appeals to our membership.

Art Groten collects poster stamps and through his site at http://www.printerstone.com/ tells us what he has, offers help to others as they build their collections, and provides information about poster stamps.

Poster stamps are what their name implies: stamp sized versions of posters. Colorful and imaginative, they were popular as a way to advertise 75-100 years ago. Their beginnings were in Europe and they later caught on in America.

Art began collecting postage stamps when he was eight years old and over time began to appreciate the collateral material associated with stamps, including ephemera. Several years ago he purchased the largest collection of poster stamps in the United States. As Art writes, "these advertising vignettes are often miniatures of posters created by the great graphic designers of their time and are quite wonderful to behold."

Art says that from a hobbyist's point of view, poster stamps are collectible by a number of criteria, including topic, image, designer, or whatever else might strike a person's fancy. Stamps are available depicting sports, schools, home furnishings, celebrations, architecture, clothing, and the list is virtually limitless.

Art's bibliography on the literature of poster stamps reveals the range of topics and images found on them. Arranged by country, the list shows how broad the appeal is for poster stamps with citations of writings in French, German, English, Italian, Russian, Swedish, and Norwegian. A good book in English on poster stamps, though it is out of print, is Lick 'Em, Stick 'Em, by H. Thomas Steele, published in 1989.

Ian Nicholson's web site is devoted to vintage luggage labels, what he rightly terms "the lost art of travel." It is located at http://www.vintagelabels.org.

Ian offers a brief essay on the history of travel in which he discusses why people have traveled, modes of transport, organized tours, the development of hotels, and the need for luggage for people to use to carry their clothing and possessions as they moved about.

Another essay, "What to Collect," offers insights about what to consider when putting a collection of luggage labels together. Ian writes: "They [collections] can be as specific or generalized as you want. Individual collections illustrate the evolution of the label and the more focused the collection, the more interesting it becomes to both the collector and to the observer." For beginners, Ian suggests going to flea markets and ephemera shows, establishing price limits, reading about luggage labels, and using archivally sound supplies for housing their collections.

Ian identifies five types of labels:

Luggage labels are pieces of printed paper used to show the destination of a piece of luggage. Luggage stickers, dating from the 1950s onward, customarily have a self-adhesive, peel-off backing and are printed on bright colored paper; they also show destinations. Luggage tags, usually made of stiff cardboard, were used by hotels to route baggage once a guest was in residence. Similar in design to luggage labels, mailing labels were also used by hotels to send letters and packages to their customers. Finally, reproductions of all of these labels are available to collect, reflecting the recent interest in much that is vintage.

Society members Debra Clifford and Angela Amato appreciate all kinds of posters, including travel, entertainment, movie, circus, military, advertising, and sports posters. Their web site is at http://vintageposterworks.com.

By clicking on several categories, site visitors can see a variety of posters on various topics. For example, “American Advertising” shows an anonymously designed Hires Root Beer Poster from the 1940s, a poster designed by Lucille Patterson advertising Royal Baking Powder, and a poster from circa 1900 for the Maison Fonde Vineyard in Sandusky, Ohio.

The section on European and French posters includes two samples from the highly prolific designer Leonetto Cappiello; one advertises breath mints and the other is for a product that claimed to bring a person warmth and cure coughs at the same time. A poster from France is for Lulu Biscuits, dating from around 1897, and a poster from Bruges, Belgium, "Cycles Lea et Norma," dating from the early 20th century, shows bicycles.

Debra and Angela show European travel posters from Spain, Portugal, and Italy as well as from other continents. In addition, they offer a vintage poster electronic newsletter.

Check out the society’s web site for other member sites. Better yet, become a member so yours can be included!

E. Richard McKinstry
Past President

[This article originally appeared in the Northeast Journal of Antiques & Art.] Photo courtesy of Carnegie Hall Archives

   © 2011 The Ephemera Society of America