Ephemera articles and stories that will
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Duck and cover!

During the Cold War days of the 1950s and 1960s, it began to seem inevitable to one and all that atomic bombs might well soon rain down. At first, mass hysteria ensued, slowly replaced by resigned shrugs as public attention wandered elsewhere. At the height of the phenomenon, bomb shelters g…

“Your vacation starts when you step aboard!”

Yeah, right. These days I hate to fly, avoid it whenever I can. Long gone are those halcyon days when taking a commercial flight was a joy when everyone put on their Sunday-go-to-meeting duds to fly when travelers were pampered. Nowadays airline advertising is filled with heart-warming, …

Baltimore’s Order of the Oriole Pageants

In the 19th century, Baltimore was a thriving city. Many of the town’s influential burghers formed a highly secretive society, The Order of the Oriole, which organized what was intended to be a hugely extravagant pageant parade in 1881. It did take place, but was in many ways a disappointment; u…

The Wende Museum and Cold War Ephemera

The Wende Museum in Culver City, California has a fascinating collection of Cold War Era ephemera, including political documents, menus, and posters. The museum houses over 2,000 Soviet and Easter Germany posters, and many are from crucial first free elections in the German Democratic Republ…

What’s So Interesting about THAT?

One of the pleasures of collecting ephemera is coming across details that are intriguing or surprising or revelatory or surprisingly relevant or interestingly obscure. The banner running around and through the word “DUNHAM” does something sophisticated, rarely attempted in wood engraving: emu…

Variants: LePage’s Glue Trade Card

Many collectors of trade cards also collect variants of certain cards, which indicate different print runs. Sometimes the word content changes, sometimes the changes are more subtle. Generally one finds but two or three variants of a given card, but some cards have more variants than that. For o…

Stitching Together a Catchy Tune . . .

In our modern world of iPods, CDs, internet streaming services, live concerts, NetFlix, 3-D movies, video games and a thousand other ways to be entertained, we rarely stop to realize how very different the world was in centuries past. Back in the proverbial day, infinitely less entertainment was…

Ghost Signs

Signs on the walls of buildings are by definition ephemeral. Some may last but days, some may last decades, some may linger for a century or more, some from antiquity even remain readable after thousands of years. But eventually, each and everyone will succumb to the vicissitudes of time. Old…

Unusual Steel Engraving

I recently won a steel engraving proof on eBay, one of the thousands of engraving proofs that have been out there for several years now following the sell-off of the archives of the American Bank Note Company (ABN). A premier securities printer since the mid-1800s (including the printing of …