Ephemera articles and stories that will
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Strange Trains

Though both my father and his father worked for the Boston & Maine Railroad for their entire careers, I’ve never been especially interested in trains. (Though when, as a boy, I got to actually drive a steam engine for a short distance in the Charlestown, MA yards, and a few years later likew…

Old Glory

Here is a blog post base on a presentation on an “Old Glory” booklet which I wrote and designed, and was put out by the U.S. Postal Service in 2003. It contained 20 postage stamps, it was entirely ephemera-based and a fun project. I have been asked to post it to this Ephemera Society web…

Fresh Items

This ephemera world of ours is just chock-full of interesting stuff. Here are some things I’ve recently come across. A simple little diecut label, yet printed letterpress in three colors, on a coated stock. I always loved this example of Victorian imagination, picked up this one as…

Digital Ephemera

What is digital ephemera and how do we save it? Digital ephemera is just that: ephemera that is created in a digital space, such as email, tweets, text messages, and so on. Adam Doster wrote a thought-provoking piece on the subject in American Libraries Magazine entitled, “Saving Digital Ephe…

What Did Printers Print?

What Did Printers Print? by Richard Sheaff Many 19th century promotional cards and advertisements for printing and engraving companies list of the sorts of things they had produced, or wished to produce. I always like to take a close look at such listings, and am often rewarded with new inform…

Knock Me Your Lobes

The Incomparable Jim Flora Artist and commercial illustrator Jim Flora (1914-1998) had one of the most wildly imaginative twentieth-century minds. I started collecting his record album covers decades ago when finding these obscure items was a matter of haunting the record bins at every thrift…

John Sayers Donates Ocean Liner Collection

John Sayers Donates Ocean Liner Collection to John Johnson Collection in the Bodleian Library. John Sayers is a longtime ESA member and a collector of ocean liner ephemera. In an interview conducted with Julie-Ann Lambert of the John Johnson Collection, he recalls what first drew him to the s…

Take Me Out to the Ballgame with A Trade Card

This 1886 trade card (4 3/8” X 7 3/8”) depicts a baseball game and reproduces equipment that appears dated to contemporary viewers. Yet despite its antiquity, we recognize the images, affirming that the basic game of baseball has not changed in the 130 years since the card was issued. …

Off the Cuff

Did you know that the expression came from nineteenth-century politicians (and others) cribbing from notes written on their paper cuffs? Apparently the urge to avoid washing the white collars and cuffs that were a hallmark of Middle Class employment or womanly gentility was strong enough to c…