Ephemera articles and stories that will
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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…

Seasons Greetings from Our Family to Yours

I want to look at three seasonal trade cards put out by 19th-century merchants. What I particularly like about these examples is that they include portraits of family members of the company founders. Like so many new businesses, these enterprises were family affairs and members of different g…

Valentine’s Day and the Romance of Cobwebs

The Ephemera Society of America is exceptionally fortunate to have a Valentine’s Day ephemera collector as our President Emerita. Nancy Rosin wears many hats, one of which is as Volunteer Cataloger for Department of Drawings and Prints of The Met! This year, she wrote about her expertise …

Electricity Makes Women Free

Nothing has changed the modern kitchen more than the introduction of electricity. The early 1900’s kitchen had the icebox on the back porch and wood stove in the kitchen. With electricity the refrigerator was moved inside the kitchen and it became the focal point instead of the stove. By 1930 …

The History of Swimwear

Let’s take a dive into a must-have beach staple: the swimsuit. From the Middle Ages through the 18th Century, swimming was strongly discouraged. The term “swimsuit” was coined by Jantzen Knitting Mills in 1915. Over the next several decades, Jantzen transformed the swimwear industry, from mat…

How to Date Cards

When people think about Ephemera, they typically think of paper – paper to which information has been added. Manuscripts are paper to which pencil or ink has been added. Trade cards, newspapers, bill and letterheads, menus and broadsides are paper to which ink has been added. Many, but not all p…

19th Century Spy Advertising

Surveillance is often an integral aspect of every modern spy movie. From the 1954 Hitchcock film Rear Window to the Bourne Identity franchise. We’ve always been fascinated with spies. There’s even a museum dedicated to this secret profession! In the late 19th century, C.P. Stirn…

The Movie Posters Collection

The Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin holds more than 10,000 vintage movie posters. From silent era film ephemera to current movie posters, you’re bound to spend hours exploring the collection. The famous Paramount Theatre in Austin, TX was operated by Interstate A bulk of…