Ephemera articles and stories that will
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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 …

Fire! Victorian Advertisers Capitalize on Danger

Nineteenth-century advertisers had no need to sensationalize the dangers of fire; its threat was ever-present. Homes were heated and meals cooked on wood, coal and gas-fueled stoves. In the evening, families gathered by the light of oil or gas-burning lamps, portable versions of which were car…

Larkin – The New Business Model

In this post, Dick Sheaff presents ephemera that points to a new business model – selling by mail. You don’t actually go to the target market yourself – you mail to it. An example of that model is The Larkin Company of Buffalo, which fine-tuned the model to a highly successful level. I guess tha…

A Double Coincidence of Wants

From the earliest days of our nation throughout the 19th century and beyond, barter has been a way of life in many times and places, generally when cash money was in short supply. Money was indeed in short supply at many times throughout those decades for a variety of reasons at different times …

Lehigh Valley Tours

We were discouraged by neither the tropical storm warnings nor the twisting back roads of rural Pennsylvania – the two intense days of tours were superb! We had chosen to meet around the Allentown Paper Show (that sprawling cornucopia of the full range of paper collecting, on the same campus as …

Pig Scalders and Such

Back when America was largely an agricultural nation, folks were accustomed to personally processing their crops and their animals into food for the table. As the 19th century moved along and industrialization increasingly created manufactured tools and equipment, farm machinery became a major s…

Those Wild & Wacky Victorians

I am regularly amazed at the reckless abandon of so much Victorian imagery. In an era that has somehow became labeled as staid, convention-bound and repressed, ephemeral evidence often testifies otherwise. Here is an engraved image, in full Aesthetic Movement style, of a hippogriff, a mytholo…

The Mammoth Garland

Perhaps the most spectacular exhibit at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition held in Chicago was the truly giant replica of a cast-iron stove at the Michigan Stove Company booth, in the Manufactures Building. Constructed and sculpted of painted oak, the huge stove had room underneath to…