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


A New Year’s Card, Decoded

by Anne Stewart O’Donnell
Ephemera can embody something universal that immediately “speaks” to us across decades or centuries. On the other hand, some ephemera needs translation! An example, spotted by ESA President Richard Sheaff, is this 1911 New Year’s postcard from the A. M. Davis Company of Boston. Its cheerfully archaic hand-lettering reads, “You’d…

Anthracite and Abracadabra

by Richard Sheaff
I collect items carved from hard anthracite coal. Recently I found a particularly interesting example, one which has lead me to stories beyond the object itself. As seen below, it was a presentation piece from Scranton, Pennsylvania (in the heart of coal mining and coal carving country) given to W.W.…

Early American Girl

by Lori Ann Achzet
Learning with Play In 1986, the Pleasant Company introduced a line of historically contextualized dolls named American Girls which were sold with books that told their life stories. America’s toy industry shares an important bond with color lithography. As toy manufacturers grew to be a major influence on children’s play and parents’ pocketbooks during…

Education Strike

by Lori Ann Achzet and Krystle Satrum
Learning with Play This nine-pin bowling set toy was designed as both a fun activity and an educational toy. America’s toy industry shares an important bond with color lithography. As toy manufacturers grew to be a major influence on children’s play and parents’ pocketbooks during the second half of the 19th century, lithographic…

Charles Dickens Manuscript Surfaces

by John G. Sayers
I was asked by an acquaintance to review a hoard of miscellaneous ephemera that they had been given by a downsizing friend. I discovered that there was a Charles Dickens First Edition apparently published in 1934! The book itself wasn’t in my friend’s archive. But there was a six-panel single-sheet…