Ephemera articles and stories that will
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Junk Mail Is Nothing New

The mid- to late-nineteenth-century saw the beginnings of advertising agencies (most, at first, simply placing newspaper ads for their clients), of compiled mailing lists and pre-printed labels . . . and of junk mail fishing for fresh, new contacts. For a variety of reasons, the first junk mail …

The Valentine – A Tribute to Love

Nancy Rosin is President Emerita of the Ephemera Society of America and the President of the National Valentine Collectors Association. Now in its 40th year, the National Valentine Collectors Association preserves and communicates the history of this beautiful material, and enable collectors to …

Dartmouth Winter Carnival Posters

Dartmouth’s annual Winter Carnival has been a major celebration since 1911. It is a long weekend filled with ski competitions, hockey games, a dogsled race, ski jumping (in years past), skating, parties, ice sculptures, receptions, talks . . . all sorts of events. I once met (twice) and talked w…

TJ Lyons, Boston’s Old-Timey Printer

From 1924 until his death in 1986, in his 93rd year, Thomas J. Lyons (“TJ”) was a collector of vintage wood and metal type fonts who designed and printed using those fonts. Considered a lovable, energetic, colorful Boston character, TJ loved to put multiple typefaces together in an “old-timey” k…

A Little Person Inspires a Big Cover: A Leap Year Curiosity

Every fourth year, an extra day in our calendar resynchronizes earthly time with cosmic time, creating what is officially called a bissextile year, or Leap Year. This year, February 29, 2016, is that Leap Day. Since the thirteenth century, tradition has allowed ladies to legally propose marriag…

So Much “Stuff”, So Little Time

One of the great joys of collecting ephemera is that each time we go to a paper show or to an antique mall or onto eBay, we come across interesting things we’ve never seen before. Here are a few recently encountered odds-and-ends. Given the current highly politicized season—and the theme of t…

Of Paper Americana and Philaphemerists

I have come to look at many collecting areas as parts of a cohesive whole, rather than a list of separate specialties such as stamps, covers, trade cards, letterheads, cancellations, postal history, greeting cards, revenues on a document, etc. It is, in reality, a universe of intersecting intere…

The Flowering of Color Printing

In “The Artist’s Garden: American Impressionism and the Garden Movement, 1887–1920”—the exhibition on view in The Huntington’s MaryLou and George Boone Gallery through May 9—you can catch a glimpse of a 19th-century innovation that brightened the visual culture of the age: color lithography, or …

As Trade Cards Morphed Into Postcards

Trade cards were a late 19th century phenomenon, and postcards were an early 20th century craze. In the period from, say, 1890 to 1910, all sorts of interesting transitions occurred as businesses moved away from advertising trade cards to advertising postcards. One interesting aspect was that so…