Ephemera articles and stories that will
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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…

Modern Victorian

Much to the delight of we collectors of vintage paper and design, an increasing number of designers, artists, and craftspeople today work in a retro-influenced way. Amongst the finest are Torquay England’s David Smith and Abilene Texas’s gun engraver Otto Carter. The craftsmanship of artists suc…

Christmas Ephemera – 1890s Chromolithograph Cigar Labels

I recently had the pleasure of visiting the John and Carolyn Grossman Collection at Winterthur. While reviewing cigar labels I came across a folder of labels titled “Schmidt Lithograph Co.” – Christmas. Upon examination, I found an array of predominantly sample labels for cigar boxes with Christ…

Railroad Hand Cars

Three-wheel and four-wheel handcars were—and are—work vehicles which have long had great appeal to popular imagination (remember that escape in Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? ?). There are numerous sources of information and many interesting collectibles out there for those so inclined. George S. S…

The Stratoliner

The Boeing 307 Stratoliner was the first commercial “high-altitude” (20,000 feet), pressurized airplane. Its design was based on the Model 299 B-17 bomber but had an expanded cabin, some 12 feet wide. The Stratoliner’s maiden flight took place on December 31, 1938. On March 18, 1939, that same a…