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Ephemera On Ephemera

Richard Sheaff

One interesting aspect of studying trade cards and other sorts of ephemera is that insights can be gained from those examples of ephemera which reference ephemera itself. This includes text which reveals how items were produced, circulated, offered as premiums and used to promote. Here are some examples; many others are out there awaiting scrutiny.

This is one of a series about “card fiends” . . . avid collectors of trade cards to mount in albums or otherwise save. As do some other cards, this one also sees to criticize the publishers who crank out vast numbers of such cards in order to make a buck one way or another.

This one refers to “the edition racket”, presumably the practice of issuing whole sets of cards in order to induce collectors to seek completion. Just why this is condidered “bad”, exactly how profits is made and by whom, are questions worth examining.

See the text at the bottom addressed “To Card-Collectors”

So why isĀ  this street peddler of trade cards labeled a “fakir”?

An offer made to card collectors.

Lion coffee made a seemingly endless series of offers of one kind or another. As mentioned on this trade card back, one manner of distribution and a sales stimulator was the placement of a colorful chromo card in each package of coffee.

“Gives Cards with Brown-Bread”

Lion coffee often correlated its offers with the season . . . Christmas cards, Easter cards, etc.

Available November 1st through Christmas Day.

Save those “Swanine” wrappers, or else!

A trade card shown on an advertising carte de visite. The dishware may or may not (?) have been premiums on offer from Lincoln baking powder.

An advertising poster.

A poster advertising chromo cards. (Collection of John Kemler)

A door hanger: Take it to your grocer to show him which product you wish to buy.

19th century ephemera on a modern postage stamp.

Another example, from Romania.

Ephemera was involved, one way or another, in quite a few of the U.S. postage stamps I designed between 1984-2006.