Ephemera articles and stories that will
educate, inspire, and delight!


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…

Labels by Crump

Recently I was contacted by a descendant of Samuel Crump, the well-known Victorian era printer and president of the Crump Label Company. The firm had been founded in 1832 by his father—also Samuel Crump, a wood engraver and printer in Montclair, NJ, an immigrant from Wales. Crump senior retired …

Valentine Party Time – The Gospel According to Dennison’s

This article appeared in the most recent version of the National Valentine Collector’s Association periodical titled the “Valentine Writer”. What do you do to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Perhaps a romantic candlelit dinner at a cozy local bistro? Is a bouquet of roses part of your day? How abo…

Stretching the Truth

Exaggeration abounded in mid-to-late-nineteenth century imagery, for comic effect and/or to emphasize product features. One oft-repeated graphic, in numerous variations, showed a pair of pants resisting mighty efforts to pull it apart. This may have originated with Levi Strauss, who used that vi…

Split Fountain Printing

Split fountain printing is a time-honored technique for printing in two or several colors in one pass. It was a way to have more colorful pieces without the expense of full color. Modern printing presses have ink trays, or “fountains”, situated above the press sheet. Rollers below then spread th…

We Are All One

To make a personal long long story very very short, I was a stamp collector before I was an ephemera collector. But the more 19th-century stamps on envelopes I saw, the more I began finding my eyes roving to the left, finding myself less interested in the postage stamp at the upper right, or its…