Ephemera articles and stories that will
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The Secret Life of Victorian Cards

Like other forms of mass-produced ephemera cards of all types proliferated with the new technologies of the mid-1800s, allowing for increased social interaction and the regulation of social standards that characterized the Victorian era. As the 19th century progressed, rules of deportm…

Ephemera Collecting – A Growing Field, Hard to Define

In 1980, the Ephemera Society of America came into existence and the first Ephemera Show was held. The organization has prospered and the show has become a widely anticipated fixture of the collecting world. Even the phrase “ephemera,” a somewhat equivocal term used to describe “a thing” essenti…

Foreshadowing the Silent Movie

The Grandon Hotel opened in Helena, Montana in 1885 when there was still gold in nearby Last Chance Gulch. The daily table d’hote dinner at the Grandon typically began with oysters that were delivered by the Northern Pacific Railroad. Oysters were shelled and packed in containers on the…

Passport 1814 — Commonwealth Of Massachusetts

The above image is of Caleb Strong. Signed By Caleb Strong who had an influential role in drafting The United States Constitution. Partly printed document with handwritten additions, large paper seal and signed by Caleb Strong. Early 19th century US passports are one of the rarest …

Arabesques and Circle Eights

Roller skating is a subject which offers 200+ years of ephemera to collect and/or study. The first appearance of skates with wheels is said to have occurred on stage in London in 1743. Over the next 50 years or so, many different sorts of skates were devised, with the activity’s popularity real…

Dressmakers’ Tools

I recently came across a stunning example of Victorian “Artistic” decoration, on a dressmaker’s square, a 15-inch wide tool. It was registered in 1884 by B. C. Noel, and called “The Parisian Square”. As so often happens in the world of ephemera, this object opened new doors to me, and I soon…

The Roycrofters – The Roots of Protest?

Ephemera Detective Were 20th Century art and antiques the expressions of protest – with Arts & Crafts representing a revulsion to the elaborate styles of the late 19th Century, and Art Deco representing a level of protest elevated even further? A publication purchased recently at a local …

A Woman and Her Bird

One thing I find interesting to look for is various different usages of the same “mortised stock cut”. Stock cuts were designs on type-high metal sold by type foundries such as MacKellar Smiths and Jordan of Philadelphia; “mortised” refers to an area left blank where individual printers would in…

Demonizing Our WWII Enemies

The world of printed ephemera reveals something interesting: WWII was the last American war in which demonizing the enemy was widely practiced, popular and totally acceptable in ways that would be politically unacceptable today. Exceptions can, of course, be found, but such blatantly vicious ima…