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