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Or, Digging through paper instead of dirt

by Glenn Mason

Like many folks my age, I began collecting ephemera back in the 1960s as a result of being a bottle collector looking for advertising “go-withs”.  I was in college, married, and casting about for a career when the “bottle bug” struck.  As a result of researching and then hunting for 19th century logging camps, crawling under old houses, and digging outhouses and backyard trash pits, I ended up majoring in History of the American West and went on for an advanced degree in Archival Librarianship.   As a result?  Over 40 years in the history profession!  

While my collecting of bottle-related paper advertising was put on hold during most of my professional career (so as to not present any public perception of conflict of interest), I kept much of my old collection and began to add to it since my retirement.  I decided to narrow down my interest in bottle-related ephemera to pieces that actually showed what the labeled or embossed bottle looked like.  In most cases, these were product specific trade cards, billheads, letterheads, covers, circulars, almanacs, advertising post cards, and other printed material from the 19th and early 20th centuries.  Or, in the time-period jargon of bottle collectors, “Pre-Prohibition”.

So, in answer to the clarion call for ESA members to share portions of their collection (or collections), I offer the following as examples of ephemera illustrating bottles.