Friday, 23 December 2011

Tinsel prints at the Ten Chimneys Foundation

While on the subject of tinsel prints (see post of  Dec 19), I came across this 2005 exhibition at the Ten Chimmeys Foundation. Some 30 miles from Milwaukee, this house museum was created by actors Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne as a world-class museum and national resource for theatre, arts, and arts education.

The exhibition website explains how the prints were made and outlines their conservation, a theme which is also expounded by the Folger Shakespeare Library in Conserving tinsel prints of stage characters.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Pantomimes in the V&A Collections

The V&A have several web articles dedicated to Pantomimes drawing on the resources of the Theatre and performance collections (formerly Theatre Museum): notably Early pantomimeThe origin of popular pantomime stories, Victorian pantomime and Principal boys, dames and animal impersonators in pantomime. These are linked through the Pantomime hub, which includes further essays and a reading list. Search the collections reveals a wealth of images from across the collections, but for dedicated ephemerists the simple search for pantomime can be combined with poster, playbill, etc. to narrow the results appropriately.

(C) V&A

(C) V&A

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Christmas postcards in the New York Public Library

The New York Public Library has c.700 Christmas postcards in its collections, mainly from the first two decades of the 20th century. Both front and back are digitised, making a good discrete collection (which they tweeted about yesterday).within their Digital Gallery .

(C) New York Public Library

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Posters in the London Transport Museum

The London Transport Museum site is a major source of 20th century posters, which were used on the Underground or on  buses. Commissioned by Frank Pick from 1908 onwards from leading and avant-garde artists of the day, these posters caused the Underground to be dubbed 'the world's longest art gallery.'  The posters advertised London attractions and events, accessible by Underground or bus. They are all online, and searchable by theme, artist, date, and colour.  There are also online essays and an online exhibition.  The screen shot shows some of the results of a search for Christmas, with posters encouraging people to shop early, go to the theatre, make room for other passengers, or just wishing customers a Happy Christmas.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Tinsel prints in the Museum of London

The Museum of London has just put its tinsel prints online, in time for Christmas. As well as some 250 prints (not all digitised), there are printing plates, stock sheets and dies (used for stamping the metal pieces). A blog post shows examples of the prints, and explains the process of creating tinsel prints.
The prints themselves often show actors in specific roles, so are important sources for theatrical history. The metallic foil was often used for characters in combat (shields, swords, helmets, etc).

Christmas from the V&A collections

The Victoria and Albert Museum has an important collection of Christmas cards including the first Christmas card (the Cole-Horsley card), which is print of the month). The Museum's website includes a Study room resource on Christmas, with teachers' notes, and a Greetings cards study guide (bibilography and links).  The V&A has provided a useful link to Search the Collections for Christmas with 184 seasonal images. You can also create your own animated e-Card from a selection of images.

(C) V&A

Friday, 16 December 2011

World of Kays (University of Worcester)

Mail-order catalogues from Kay & Co. Ltd, of Worcester, are the focus of World of Kays, a JISC-funded project at the University of Worcester. Not only does the site include1500 images from 1920-2000, film and audio interviews with ex-Kays staff and local residents, but members of the public are invited to comment on the images from their own experience or contribute stories. You can search by type and purpose of garment, season and date, and restrict to men, women or children. There are pages on the history of 20th century fashion and body image, videos, and a blog. The project is on Facebook and Twitter: @WorldofKays

The catalogues are part of a larger archive of business records relating to Kay & Co. Ltd, deposited by the Kays Heritage Group and held as part of the Research Collections at the University of Worcester.

© University of Worcester
© Kays Heritage Group.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Games at the V&A Museum of Childhood

The V&A Museum of Childhood website has very useful introductions to games, such as Game of Goose, Maze games, Chronological tables, The Kings & Queens of England, Snakes and Ladders, as well as later games (Monopoly, Scrabble, Jenga, etc.) all with images. There are pages too on toys (including Lane's telescopic view of the Great Exhibition and a Zoetrope), toy manufacturers, childcare, clothing, etc.  I particularly like the German toy sample book.

Copyright: © V&A Images.

Search the Collections is the over-arching V&A Search the Collections screen, which I have already blogged enthusiastically about, but a search for games produces a treasure trove of over a thousand board and card games, all illustrated, most in the museum's store.

Copyright: © V&A Images.

And, there is an exhibition of photographs of children by Julia Margaret Cameron, at the Museum of Childhood until 13 February 2012.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Mary Evans Picture Library

I visited the Mary Evans Picture Library many years ago and loved it.  There is a wealth of ephemera, enthusiastically collected by the late Mary and Hilary Evans, initially as a hobby and then as a business. The images are beautifully presented by theme,date, etc.

(C)Mary Evans Picture Library Ltd
In addition to its own collections, the MEPL holds images from the National Archives, Women's Library, Weimar Archive, the work of Ernst Dryden, the Illustrated London News, material which has passed through Onslow Auctions, political cartoons (mid 1790s-1810) from The Reform Club, and many other photographic and other archives. These can be viewed individually from the Collections page or cross-searched with other collections.  

The Features section is one of my favourites, with pre-selections of material relating to nearly 200 tantalising themes.

(C) Mary Evans Picture Library Ltd

You can also subscribe to an online Newsletter, download ME and You Magazine, and follow the MEPL on Twitter: @Mary_Evans

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Winterthur ephemera collections

The Winterthur Museum holds several important collections of ephemera, including the recently acquired John and Carolyn Grossman Collection, which has 250,000 items documenting lithography and chromolithography and the Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera, a guide to which can be downloaded. The Winterthur Digitised Collections page contains selections of images and introductions to the collections. Apart from the Grossman Collection, notable for ephemerists are:  cigar labels, bookplates, Shaker postcards (and photographs), the Charles Magnus Collection (lithographer), mathematical playing cards (Thomas Tuttell Collection), French candy wrappers, lantern slides, indentures, and the Maxine Waldron Collection of Children's Books and Paper Toys. You can search and browse the library digital collections (including advanced searching) and the undigitised collections, through the library catalogue. You can also subscribe to RSS feeds for updates on each collection and follow Winterthur on Facebook.

© 2009 Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library

There is much to explore, including attractive research guides, a downloadable guide, and online exhibitions.

© 2009 Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Louis Prang at the New York Public Library

Among the collections represented in the New York Public Library's Digital Gallery are Publishers' Proofs and Related Work from L. Prang & Company.  23 albums are digitised (17 of chromolithographs of publishers' proofs and 6 of advertising cards of Prang and other companies). Not only is this a wonderful resource of material relating to Louis Prang, one of the most celebrated American chromolithographers, but these are also fascinating examples of stock books and include annotations and progressives, such as Prang's prize babies (screen shot). A treasure-trove for social and printing historians.

(C) New York Public Library

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Trade catalogues at the V&A and Manchester Metropolitan University Library

The Victoria and Albert Museum is one of the few British institutions to have collected (and to continue to collect) trade catalogues. Often falling between books and ephemera, these fascinating documents are rare.  The trade catalogues, which date from the 1760s to the present, are split between the National Art Library (Jobbing Printing and EKCO collections) and the Archive of Art and Design (Liberty, Heal and others from within archive collections). These collections are not digitised. Readers' tickets and appointments are required.

Another major British collection of trade catalogues is held at Manchester Metropolitan University Library, where an exhibition was held in 1992 with a catalogue by Gaye Smith: Trade Catalogues: A Hundred Years, 1850-1949  (Manchester: Manchester Metropolitan University Library, 1992).

(C) V&A

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

French Trade Cards at Waddesdon Manor

At Waddesdon Manor are three volumes of exquisite mainly French trade cards and a fourth volume of mainly German material, including prints relating to human prodigies. This material was acquired by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild in 1891. These date-span of the material is early 17th to early 19th centuries.  The majority of the trade cards are high-quality 18th century engravings.
The material is catalogued, digitised and searchable in a number of sophisticated ways. It is also translated into English.


The Warwick Eighteenth Century Centre has a research site: Selling consumption in the Eighteenth Century: Advertising and the Trade Card, which specifically discusses the German material in the fourth volume and has a very useful bibliography of articles about the Waddesdon cards and trade cards more generally.

Friday, 2 December 2011

The Ephemera Society of America

The Ephemera Society of America was founded in 1980.  Its focus is an annual convention which combines a conference and fair, usually in March. The society publishes The Ephemera Journal three times a year, communicates with its members through eNews, ( a monthly electronic journal) and has published some major reference works on ephemera. It has an excellent and informative web presence, including illustrated sections defining types of ephemera, articles, links, and bibliographies.  It is also on Facebook and Twitter: @EphemeraSociety

© 2011 The Ephemera Society of America

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Online Advent Calendars

I really like the online 'advent' calendars launched today, especially those of the Geffrye Museum, Oxford University Computing Services Open Advent calendar (24 open educational resources free to use, not just for Christmas) and the Regional Support Centre South East 'Appy Christmas calendar, which introduces educational apps, gadgets and tips.

©Geffrye Museum

My favourite so far is the University of Glasgow House of Fraser Archive Advent Calendar, which reveals a new Christmas image from the archive each day in a countdown to the launch of the online catalogue after Christmas Day. A fun way to introduce a new resource which, judging from the first image, will contain a lot of ephemera.

© UofG

British Newspaper Archive: British Library

The new British Newspaper Archive is a wonderful resource not only in itself, but also for contextualising and dating ephemera. .Functionality is superb, with browsing, searching, filtering of results, interactive map, highlights, facility to save search results to a personal workspace, etc. Searching is free and you see thumbnails of your results, but outside the British Library a subscription is necessary to see the full images.

© brightsolid Newspaper Archive Limited 2011

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Broadsides at the National Library of Scotland

The Word on the Street is devoted to Scottish broadsides, including public notices, ballads, speeches, and crime broadsides, between 1690 and 1910. Nearly 1,800 broadsides are available as jpegs and downloadable pdfs, complete with scholarly commentaries and transcriptions (with full-text searching and hit-highlighting). All can be browsed by title or subject or searched by keyword.
There are also excellent pages introducing the background, distribution and illustration of broadsides and highlights from Crime, Ballads, Emigration, Sport, Tragedy and disaster, Marvels, and Humour.
The screen shot is of Scotch Medley, in honour of St. Andrew's Day.

National Library of Scotland © 2004

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Vieux papiers, vieilles images

Vieux papiers, vieilles images is the seminal work by John Grand-Carteret, which introduced the Francophone world to the concept of ephemera. It dates from 1896.

Le Vieux Papier

Le Vieux Papier is the French equivalent of the Ephemera Society, and pre-dates it by 75 years. Its journal Bulletin de la Société archéologique, historique et artistique, Le Vieux papier, pour l'étude de la vie et des mœurs d'autrefois. has been published since 1900 (the Bodleian is among the libraries which have the complete run).

Le Vieux Papier holds 3-4 meetings a year over dinner and has less formal meetings on occasional Saturdays. The relatively new website includes an illustrated thesaurus which introduces the main interests of the society's membership.

© 2011 Le Vieux Papier


Monday, 28 November 2011

Cornell University: Games and other ephemera

Pastimes and Paradigms: games we play is an online exhibition (from 2004), documenting the evolution of games through material from the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections at Cornell University.  Many historic board games are online, together with card games, jigsaws, puzzles, and prints showing children at play.  There are some nice animations too.

Copyright © 2004 Division of Rare & Manuscript Collections

The Rare and Manuscript Collections pages reveal digital collections of political Americana and Food, wine and culinary history resources (from the Nestlé library), including 10,000 restaurant menus from 1850s to the present. There is much more to explore: Search Cornell reveals 171 hits for ephemera, including theatre ephemera, posters, scrapbooks, broadsides and much else. All tantalising!

Friday, 25 November 2011

Duke University Libraries: John W. Hartman Center

Still on the American theme, Duke University Libraries' Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History in the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library has seven major projects, one an encyclopedia, the other six digital, all aiming to promote "understanding of the social, cultural, and historical impact of advertising, marketing, and sales".  This is a major initiative, focussing mainly on magazines and newspapers (rather than ephemera), television commercials, billboards, and outdoor advertisiing.

The Emergence of Advertising in America: 1850-1920 has over 2,800 advertisements, mostly from magazines, searchable by company, product, date, format, publication, etc.

(C) Duke University

But there is more!
Ad*Access contains 7,000 American and Canadian advertisements, divided into Beauty & Hygiene (1911-56), Radio (1922-56), Television (1939-57), Transportation (1938-57), and World War II (1942-45).

(C) Duke University

... and more
 AdViews is a "digital archive of thousands of vintage television commercials dating from the 1950s through the 1980s, and created or collected by the D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles advertising agency"

...and more
Medicine and Madison Avenue has 600 advertisements relating to health.

Road: Resource of Outdoor Advertising Descriptions (no images) and Road 2.0 (20,000 images) document bill boards and other outdoor advertising.

There are online exhibitions, supplementary information, a blog, RSS feeds, comment boxes, twitter - a multitude of web 2.0 functionality, and it is fun! Thank you Duke University.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

New York Public Library digital collections

Happy Thanksgiving. The New York Public Library Digital Gallery contains a wealth of ephemera. You can search by collection (such as the Billy Rose Theater Collection or the Jerome Robbins Dance Division) or by subject.

(C) New York Public Library

(C) New York Public Library

Below is a selection of circus and magic posters from the Billy Rose Theatre Collection

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Museum of Music History

Just a quick coda to yesterday's entry. The Museum of Music History is new and has collections which can be consulted by appointment. Its web presence includes a lot of ephemera.  Definitely a development to watch!

MOMH © 2011

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Music Resources

An additional blog for St Cecilia's day!  Concert programmes abound in collections, including the John Johnson Collection and the Bodleian Music Room. There have been three major iniatives to document holdings of concert programmes. Cecilia (Mapping the music resources of the UK and Ireland) was followed by  the Concert Programmes database which focuses on describing concert programmes and enables searching by time, people, place, subject, tradition and institution.
(c) University of Cardiff, RCM London, MLA

Additionally, there is the Concert Life in 19th century London database and Research project.

The Royal College of Music, which has very important holdings of concert programmes, is also currently collaborating with the Wigmore Hall to catalogue concert programmes.   The Wigmore Hall has two podcasts of a study afternoon in May 2011 which discussed the archives of the Wigmore Hall, led by Prof Paul Banks, from the Royal College of Music's Centre for Performance History, and Paula Best, Head of Publications & Archive at Wgmore Hall.

The Royal Opera House is cataloguing every performance at the ROH from 1732 to the present.

(c) Royal Opera House

In 2011, the BBC launched the online Prom Archive in which all 7,168 performances at the Proms since 1895 are indexed. This is a search for Benjamin Britten (whose birthday is on St Cecilia's Day)

(C) BBC 2011

New-York Historical Society

The New-York Historical Society has just re-opened, so a good moment to blog about the Bella C. Landauer Collection of Business and Advertising Art, in which I was privileged to work for a week on an exchange with the late Wendy Shadwell some years ago.  Bella C. Landauer and John Johnson were contemporaries and knew each other. Their collections differ slightly in focus, but there is much overlap.   Ephemera comes under Graphic Collections in the N-Y H S and are described in the following terms:
The Society’s ephemera collections include lottery tickets, trade cards, billheads, tobacco labels, theater playbills and countless other types of material that were created for temporary use but have survived to illuminate everyday life and popular culture. A highlight is the Bella C. Landauer Collection of Business and Advertising Art, assembled over a forty-year period by the tireless Mrs. Landauer (1874-1960) and arranged alphabetically into 100 product categories, such as Banking, Food, Hotels, Theatrical Enterprises, and Transportation.

There are other ephemera collections too: Broadsides (catalogued), Dining Menus (mainly donated by Arnold Shircliffe) and American Board and Table games (Liman Collection).

(c) New-York Historical Society

Monday, 21 November 2011

British Museum

The British Museum has superb collections of ephemera, mainly in the Dept of Prints and Drawings.

For bookplates and prints the BM catalogues are the standard reference works.

All three volumes of the Catalogue of the Franks Collection of British and American Bookplates in the British Museum Department of Prints and Drawings are now available online, thanks to a digitisation initiative by the University of Toronto.

The museum is putting increasing numbers of prints and ephemera online through its Collection database. At 21/11/11 there were 18,626 entries online under book plate.
There are 31,899 political prints online (which I found by entering satirical prints in the free text search).

The invaluable catalogue: Stephens, Frederic George; George, Mary Dorothy, Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the Department of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum, 11 vols, London, BMP, 1870 is also available online through the University of Toronto, together with a wealth of other reference works relating to prints at the museum.

The BM's collections of  British 18th and 19th century trade cards (the Heal and Banks collections) are unsurpassed. There are currently 14,754 trade cards online.

There is also a new online research catalogue of the museum's Paper Money (nearly 20% already online), with articles on banking history, security printing, etc.

Friday, 18 November 2011


It is a moot point whether book or dust jackets count as ephemera. When taken from the book, perhaps. We have a collection of Jackets in the John Johnson Collection, which are catalogued but not digitised. The Bodeian's jackets are also sent to us to process, but that is another story.
The New York Public Library has 2,511 jackets online, from American and European books.
(c) New York Public Library
And, while on the subject, G. Thomas Tanselle's long-awaited book, Book-jackets: their history, form, and use, has just been published by Oak Knoll (available in December).

(c) Oak Knoll

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Museum of London

The Museum of London has wonderful collections of ephemera and is actively surfacing them, notably the tinsel prints, valentines, Christmas cards and trade cards.
The Collections pages enable you to read about the collections and to search (here I searched for suffrage).
(c) Museum of London
(c) Museum of London

As well as the museum's website Ellie, the Project Assistant focussing on ephemera, is blogging regularly about progress.

The Museum's commercial site has thousands of images which can be searched and ordered.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

British Postal Museum and Archive

The British Postal Museum and Archive site is excellent. The British Postal History pages (under History and Learning) answer lots of questions about postal rates and stamps, postcode history, etc., all of which help with dating as well as being intrinsically interesting and very well presented and illustrated. The ephemera of postal history is there too, in abundance, and can be found via the Collections and Catalogues pages by theme, or in the online catalogue.

© The  British Postal Museum & Archive 2011

Monday, 14 November 2011

Tuck Postcards

I've just discovered TuckDB, which aims to be the definitive listing of Tuck postcards. An amazing resource and clearly a labour of love, begun in 1998. Just the sort of thing the web is so good for, pulling together different collections. Many thanks to Allan Braun, James Lewis Lowe, Richard Moulton, Alison Milling, website designer Justin Tanner and all the other contributors. They are planning to open up the site for additions by other collectors. There are already 123,219 postcards online, documented and tagged. You can search (including advanced search options), browse by tag, set, etc. Immensely useful, especially as we are beginning to catalogue our postcards, including Tuck.

(c) TuckDB

Friday, 11 November 2011

Imperial War Museum

The Imperial War Museum has a new website. Lots of wonderful content for ephemerists but the decision to include artefacts under the heading Souvenirs and Ephemera makes searching harder. Within the Souvenirs and Ephemera category, searching is by keyword, which makes it difficult to further limit by genre. Nice site though.

(c) Imperial War Museum

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Scrap Albums and more

The Scrap Album site has beautifully-illustrated introductions to a range of ephemera, mostly connected to seasonal greetings, but also including English lotteries, rewards of merit and, notably, scraps and scrap albums. Excellent navigation and links to related sites.

(c) Malcolm Warrington, 2011

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Leeds Play Bills

Local studies collections are rich sources of ephemera. The Leeds Play Bills site is a wonderful example of how these can be surfaced for the benefit not only of the local community but also of theatre historians. The site links through to Leodis, a photographic archive of Leeds.

(c) Leeds Local Studies Library

Monday, 7 November 2011


Bookmarkers, etc. woven by Thomas Stevens of Coventry form a very specific category of ephemera. Stevengraphs, Bookmarks & Postcards, etc is an excellent example of a collector/dealer (in this case Malcolm J Roebuck) documenting and researching his field, taking forward in this case electronically, the work of Geoffrey A. Godden in his book, Stevengraphs and other Victorian silk pictures. The site isn't limited to Stevengraphs but includes other manufacturers of woven silk bookmarkers, postcards, etc. 1,600 images are already on the site, the aim of which is  "to offer the most complete history of Thomas Stevens."

© 1999-2009 Stevengraphs Bookmarks & Postcards Etc

Friday, 4 November 2011

American memory: Library of Congress

An American Time Capsule, three centuries of broadsides and other printed ephemera (Library of Congress) features a wealth of ephemera: 17,000 (of a potential 28,000) documents, with more digitisation scheduled for the future. There is a useful Introduction to ephemera, notably broadsides, reward notices, ephemera relating to anti-slavery, civil war, women, health, education, travel, industry, labor, and poetry and verse in ephemera. Full-text searching is available.

(c) Library of Congress

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Conservative Party Archive

The Conservative Party Archive, housed at the Bodleian Library, includes over 600 posters from 1886-2008, all of which can be viewed online. There are two different ways of seeing them, explained on the site.
(c) Bodleian Library

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

The Ephemera Society

The Ephemera Society website is full of information, news, online articles (see below), queries and, most relevant to this Ephemera Resources blog, a very useful links page which covers Organisations, Museums & Libraries, Archives & Collections and Online Resources.
(c) Ephemera Society

Monday, 31 October 2011

History of Advertising Trust

The History of Advertising Trust collections are divided into: Advertising Agencies, Advertising Regulation and Codes of Practice, Clubs, Associations and Organisations, Corporate Marketing Archives (including Hovis, HP Foods, Rowntree, SmithKline Beecham, and Sturmey Archer), Designers and Creatives, Professional Interest Bodies, TV and Cinema Commercials, HAT Special Collections & Compilations, and HAT Library. The site contains a wealth of visual material, including an Online gallery. There is also the facility to buy Vintage Advertising Poster Prints.

(c) HAT

Friday, 28 October 2011

Victoria and Albert Museum

The V&A Search Collections pages enable cross-searching their wonderful material in imaginative and very visual ways. For ephemera, try poster, ephemera, greetings card, Christmas, private view, menu, bag, programme (Theatre and performance collection), ticket...
(c) V&A
You can narrow your searches in all sorts of ways, e.g Ticket brings up lots of metal bottle tickets, but you can limit by Prints, Drawings and Paintings Collections, then by Advertising, Entertainment, Transport etc.  It's great to have the wider context of the material though. All with useful Help screens (at the bottom) explaining how to search, view and order images.
A real voyage of discovery: one of my favourite sites.