Ephemera articles and stories that will
educate, inspire, and delight!


Hunt’s Remedy

William E. Clarke of Providence, Rhode Island produced and marketed “Hunt’s Remedy”, a widely sold nostrum for kidney complaints, for decades. Research into Providence city directories provides insight into Clarke and his activities. Clarke was a grocer situated at College & Benefit Streets …

Woman’s Home Guard

For a variety of reasons, St. Louis, Missouri became a leading center for aviation in the early 20th century.Back in 1859, balloonist John Wise set a long-standing record by flying some 1,150 miles from St. Louis to Henderson, NY. Captain John Berry and others experimented in St. Louis with …

Made in The USA

Many items of historical ephemera bring fresh things to think about, new subjects to explore. An impulse buy at one ESA annual auction lead me down some interesting roads. The lot was an 1809 billhead/receipt with an unusual and interesting eagle-and-stars device at the top, surrounded by t…

The “Experiment”

This small copperplate engraved ticket, found in a Providence antiques mall, is interesting on several levels. The engraver was William Hamlin (1772-1869), Rhode Island’s first engraver. According to an article in Rhode Island History, Hamlin “probably engraved less than one hundred plates.” (1)…

The First Mickey Mouse Ephemera

Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse made his debut November 18, 1928, in the Disney short film Steamboat Willie, at the Colony Theater in New York City. Coinciding with the arrival of sound in film, Mickey was an instant worldwide hit – inspiring a deluge of products in his image. Given the throw-away…

Architecture and the Photo Studio

The expanding popularity of inexpensive photographic portraits of the “cabinet” size (4.25 x 6.5 inches) in the 1880s and 1890s increased competition among photographers. The printed backs of the portrait card offered a prime venue for advertising; not just text but often an architectural render…

Horse Trading in New Hampshire 1824

A sealed packet of depositions taken at Andover, New Hampshire July 17, 1824, unfolded one of those narratives that was differently ‘colored’ for each correspondent. (Illustrations 1 and 2) Illustration 1 Illustration 2 The Justice of the Peace, Samuel Kimball, had subpoenaed eight men …

Happy Ruby Anniversary

1980 to 2020 Ruby-red is a color at the end of the color spectrum (next to orange): the color of rubies or blood or cherries. 1893 trade card for H.W. Johns paint Red of all hues is a signature color for a wide range of ephemera. Red is the color of Santa Claus (thank you Thomas …

A New Year’s Card, Decoded

Ephemera can embody something universal that immediately “speaks” to us across decades or centuries. On the other hand, some ephemera needs translation! An example, spotted by ESA President Richard Sheaff, is this 1911 New Year’s postcard from the A. M. Davis Company of Boston. Its cheerfull…