Ephemera articles and stories that will
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Colonial America Lotteries

In the United States today, lotteries are run by 46 jurisdictions: 43 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and (US) Virgin Islands. Hot Lotto. Decades of Dollars. Wild Card 2. 2by2. MegaHits. Tri-State. Mega Millions. Powerball . Win for Life. Pick 10. Mid-day Numbers. MatchPlay. T…

Civil War “Dog Tags”: Sutlers Solve the ID Dilemma

During the American Civil War, soldiers were concerned that their bodies would not be identified in the aftermath of a battle because neither the Union nor Confederate government-issued identification tags, commonly called “dog tags” today. Consequently, many soldiers would write their name …

The Black Fives

How the “Sporting Life” impacted the social and cultural development of America: The Black Fives Era of Basketball (1904-1950) explores the important role of African American basketball teams. “The Black Fives” is a short film by award-winning director Marco Williams, produced by the New Y…

Mt Washington Cog Railway

I recently came across a sketch I had made back in 1989 for a U.S. postage stamp which I had designed, issued in 1995. What caught my eye was a notation I’d put on it saying that it was the first time I had used my spanking new first computer in the process, a Macintosh II. From the perspective …

Cash Railways

Some stores still use them: a rubber-footed canister that speeds through a maze of tubing via compressed air, delivering receipts and change with a satisfying ‘thonk.’ At one point, most of the major cities of Europe and America even had such pneumatic tube service integrated with the postal s…

Colorful Circus Paper Traces the Spread of ‘Jumbomania’

Despite its featherweight, printed paper from the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art exerted enough power back in the 1880s to ignite and sustain enthusiastic public interest in a beloved 13,000-pound curiosity named Jumbo. Circus paper encompasses a wide range of material such as tickets,…

America’s Future has always been achieved through American ingenuity

The Ephemera Society’s 2017 conference was entitled “AMERICAN INGENUITY: What’s The Big Idea?” The advances of “this American experiment” have always been dependent upon native inventiveness, and the conference will explore various aspects of American creativity. Our nation went from a rural agr…

You Dirty Rat

Cagney actually never spoke that line famously attributed to him, but no matter. Millions of others have said it. Though rats are said to actually make very nice pets, most people find them repulsive. Mankind has fought a losing bat with the rat populations of the world since Time immemorial. Mu…

Call me! back in the day

The 19th century Industrial Revolution brought to the world a host of seemingly miraculous advances . . . photography, color printing, the X-ray, automobiles and a lengthy list of other advances. One of these was a device which could send one’s voice anywhere and everywhere: the telephone…