Ephemera articles and stories that will
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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…

Whale Washing

Today as I write, this large, reverse-painted-on-glass nineteenth-century advertising sign is to be auctioned by Morphy’s. The image of a whale being cleaned by Soapine is one of those truly classic vintage images, and variations on the theme are popular collectibles. (For that matter, any i…

Yankee Peddler

In an earlier blog, I made the point that the “separate hobbies” of collecting paper, stamps, postal history, prints, and antique objects are often—perhaps always—part of the same historical trail, one encompassing hobby. Some folks chose to focus in one or another aspect, others collect a bit o…

Scratching the Surface

So many kinds of interesting ephemera, so little time. I find match scratchers, a useful thing to have on hand back in the day of ubiquitous wooden matches, to be pretty interesting. There are all sorts of ceramic and other pottery match scratchers (also called match strikers) out there; tho…

Greetings from “Over There”

Holiday and other greeting cards in the United States developed throughout the 19th century, but by the first decade of the 20th century, the industry was dominated by postcards designed and printed in Germany. That ended with the outbreak of WWI. During “The War To End All Wars” (yeah, right…