Monday, 30 April 2012

Antique Spectacles

Antique Spectacles and other Vision Aids ('the online museum and encyclopedia of vision aids') is a site which caught my imagination from our first involvement with it and its very enthusiastic and knowledgeable curator, Dr Fleishman. It is a shining example of a site which uses ephemera to tell their part of the story (in this case of the history of spectacles) in conjunction with the widest possible range of other media. I thought I would look at it again to see if I could justify including it as an Ephemera resource, and I was amply rewarded. The new Quick links include pages aimed at librarians and curators. Of particular note is a discussion of the Edward Scarlett trade card: the newly discovered Bodleian version, 1714-1727  (not JJ Coll but Douce adds 139 (766)), with pop-up transcriptions and enlargements of details, and a scholarly comparison of the two known versions of the card (one of which is represented in two collections).

This is supplemented by a slide show of other optical trade cards from a wide range of collections, including the John Johnson Collection, all with mouse-over pop-up enlargements.

copyright © 2003-2012,

The whole site is fascinating, but also of particular interest to ephemerists are three slide shows of spectacles on stamps, a slide show of paper labels rarely seen, and slide shows of spectacle peddlers, and International currency showing spectacles.

A site to enjoy for itself as much as for its ephemera!

Friday, 27 April 2012

V&A Theatre Collections Online

The V&A Theatre Museum sadly closed in 2007 and the theatre collections are now part of the main museum, with special new galleries.

The Theatre and Performance holdings are awe-inspiring: playbills and programmes, prints and posters, as well as artefacts, costumes, ceramics, etc., etc. There are excellent pages on researching theatre and performance, an overview of the V&A theatre and performance collections and excellent illustrated essays on such topics as 18th century theatre19th century theatre, Circus, etc, and a series of subject hubs which include Theatre History, Pantomime (already discussed in an earlier post), Dance, Music Hall and Variety, Circus, and Black Theatre and Performance.  These hubs lead to essays, videos, images, biographies, links and reading lists.

Much is digitised and you can search the collections. Initially searches are initiated across the V&A collections, often revealing fascinating and unexpected references, but they can then be narrowed by category, collection, material, name, place, subject, technique, etc.   My search for benefit ticket, for example, returned items from Prints and Drawings as well as the Theatre Collections, as did my search for Vauxhall Gardens (screen shot).

A very rich resource.

© V&A Images

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Folger Library Digital Image Collection

I briefly visited the Folger Shakespeare Library a few years ago and was delighted to see exhibited an array of fascinating Shakespeare playbills, many British but some for performances in the United States.

Those ephemera which have been digitised are online through Luna. I searched for Playbill (49 results).

Copyright © Folger Shakespeare Library®
Ephemera collections, scrapbooks and playbills are not included in the Folger's online catalogue, Hamnet, but there is an online finding aid to Garrick playbills (552 items).

There is also a fascinating blog post about the conservation of tinsel prints.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

The Library of Congress: Performing arts posters and Shakespeare

There is much to explore for the ephemerist in the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs online catalog.
For this series on theatre and entertainment (for Shakespeare week), I will confine this post to the 2114 performing arts posters. These include theatre, magic and minstrels and can be browsed as a list (with thumbnails), a gallery, a grid (as in the screen shot) or as a slide show or searched.  Searching is aided by helpful drop-down lists: a search for opera, for example, prompts opera houses, opera bouffe, opera Normandy, etc as well as operas and operatic.

(C) Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

There are hits for Shakespeare, of course, and additionally the Library of Congress has a special section in its Imagination Gallery (part of American treasures) devoted to Shakespeare in America, which includes ephemera.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

The University of Bristol Theatre Collections: the Mander and Mitchenson Collection and more

I first saw the wonderful collection of theatre memorabilia lovingly formed by actors Raymond Mander and Joe Mitchenson many years ago, when it was still in Beckenham Palace. It was an Aladdin's cave of printed material and artefacts. Its future was then uncertain.  From 2001 until 2011, it was housed at Trinity College of Music in Greenwich, where it became part of the Jerwood Library.

The collection  moved in 2011  to the University of Bristol Theatre Collection where it joins a wealth of other theatre collections, including 150,000 theatre programmes, and 2750 playbills and posters. Many of the University of Bristol collections are catalogued, and there are over 1,500 images online through the Visualising Theatre Project, a selection of which can be seen in the form of Powerpoint slides.

The Mander and Mitchenson collection is currently being catalogued and list of the collection is available for download. Commercial image requests are handled by Arenapal, and a free Mander and Mitchenson E-brochure is available on this site.

The University of Bristol Theatre Collection is currently being refurbished and is closed from today (April 23) until October 2012.

(C) University of Bristol Theatre Collection

Monday, 23 April 2012

Playbills and programmes in the John Johnson Collection

18th and 19th century playbills and programmes from the John Johnson Collection are online. As well as those for theatrical performances, we have digitised ephemera relating to Actors and Actresses, Animals on Show, Circuses, Dioramas, Human Freaks, London Play Places, Magic and Mystery, Miniature Theatre, Museums, Minstrels, Playbills on Silk, and Performances in Royal Residences.

18th century material is on the Oxford Digital Library 18th century Entertainment site.   Access is free to all.  Images and (more detailed) metadata are also available through the John Johnson Collection online catalogue.

19th century programmes and playbills are online in The John Johnson Collection: an archive of printed ephemera (ProQuest). As well as being cross-searchable with Crime, Advertising, Booktrade ephemera and Popular prints,  Entertainment resources have their own search screens.

The ProQuest project is free in the UK, through Higher and Further Education, Schools, and Public Libraries. Access to the last two requires the completion of a form.  Outside the UK, the resource is available through institutional subscription only.   Records (without images) for 19th century Entertainment are also available through the John Johnson Collection online catalogue.

The image gallery below gives a tiny glimpse of the sort of material you will find.

(C) Bodleian Library, University of Oxford: John Johnson Collection

Friday, 20 April 2012

Seed catalogues 3: The US National Agricultural Library

The National Agricultural Library (United States Department of Agriculture) has, within its Special Collections, a major collection of seed catalogues: The Henry G. Gilbert Nursery and Seed Trade Catalog Collection. There are 200,000 catalogues, from America and a wide range of other countries (including Britain), mostly from 1890 to the present but with some dating back to the late 18th century. The image gallery presents selected covers of catalogues from the US by period (1750-1875, 1876-1900, 1901-1925) and from Japan, mostly from the Yokohama Nursery Co,. Ltd.

(C) National Agricultural Library (United States Department of Agriculture)

The Library also has a collection of posters relating to the Women's Land Army, War, Rural Electrification Administration, and the World's Poultry Congress.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Seed catalogues 2: The John Johnson Collection

The early seedsmen's catalogues in the John Johnson Collection were identified and removed to guardbooks. They are cited in the pioneering work of John Harvey in Early horticultural catalogues: a checklist of trade catalogues issued by firms of nurserymen and seedsmen in Great Britain and Ireland down to the year 1850, . The shelfmarks (Johnson a.50 and Johnson d.1640) can be searched for in SOLO  Other Bodleian seed catalogues can be found by keyword searches on SOLO, or by referring to the annotated copy of Harvey (op cit) on the open shelves in the Special Collections Reading Room.

Seedsmen's lists and later catalogues remain in the Horticulture section (boxes and outsize folders).   The catalogues have not yet been digitised, except for Oxford seedsmen and nurserymen, which fall within Oxford Trade (box 5). These are available through the ProQuest project: The John Johnson Collection: an archive of printed ephemera. Notable are late 19th century catalogues by C.B. Anstey.

Trade cards for Horticulture, Nurserymen and Seedsmen (Trade Cards 14 (2-14)) are available through the JJ online catalogue.

The image below shows a broadside Catalogue of American trees and shrubs that will endure the climate of England, issued by Christopher Grey/Gray, nurseryman in Fulham, c. 1740. He was the first to receive Magnolia grandiflora from North America into Britain, and to propogate it, in c. 1734.

John Johnson Coll. Horticulture large folder

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Seed catalogues 1: Oregon State University Libraries

It is National Gardening Week, and this seems a very good time to focus on seed catalogues.

Oregon State University Libraries Special Collections has a very useful and well presented online exhibit on early seed catalogues, based on the collection assembled by the former agricultural librarian, Laura Kelts. There are over 2,000 items in the collection, from 1832 to 1966, which include seed catalogues from Great Britain, Holland and other European and Asian countries, as well as (predominantly) North America. The holdings are particularly strong in North American catalogues of the 1940s.

The website gives the history of both British and American seed catalogues. It is divided into pages on the Earliest European seed and nursery catalogues, Early 19th century catalogues (with separate pages for British and American catalogues, Mid 19th century,  Late 19th and early 20th century, World War I, 1920s, 1930s, World War II and 1945-1960.  The appendices are devoted to Art and photography in seed catalogues and, perhaps most useful of all, there is an excellent page of links to other collections and exhibits, mostly in the USA, but also in Britain, Holland and Canada and introducing the Lindley Library (Royal Horticultural Society) project to locate all European seed catalogues, and a separate Bibliography.  Which is why I have called this Seed catalogues I: there is much more to explore!

Friday, 13 April 2012

Library of Congress WPA posters

An American phenomenon, WPA (Work Project Administration) posters make a fascinating comparison with contemporary British poster style. The WPA website of the Library of Congress contains 932 posters of the 1930s and 1940s, which can be searched, browsed or viewed as a slide show.

The posters were a government intiative and were "designed to publicize exhibits, community activities, theatrical productions, and health and educational programs in seventeen states and the District of Columbia, with the strongest representation from California, Illinois, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania."

The images are accompanied by full metadata, including detailed iconographic indexing. Subjects include exhibitions, books, concerts, shows, and health and safety.

(C) Library of Congress

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Bibliothèque Nationale de France: press posters and more

Another post about one of my favourite sites: Gallica,  the Bibliothèque Nationale de France's digital library.  Gallica in fact goes far beyond the holdings of the BNF, covering some 40 other institutions with compatible collections, including the Collège des Irlandais de Paris, the National Library of Brazil, the Bibliothèque Sainte Geneviève (which has superb ephemera collections not yet digitised I think), the Cité internationale de la bande dessinée et de l’image, and the Library of Congress (joint France in America project).

I particularly liked the press publicity posters exposed through Twitter and Facebook yesterday.  Clicking on "informations détaillées" not only shows the metadata for the object but the user can click through to other works by the same illustrator or to further searches by associated terms. The menu on the left facilitates limiting the result set to specific artists, centuries or country.  There is an English language version too.

(C) Bibliothèque Nationale de France
The search screen is well designed. I used: Text : affiche  Limited by language:- Anglais and Document type : - Image to find 243 superb English posters with a further 58 results substituting publicité for affiche.  This site is very well worth exploring, especially for Francophiles and those interested in lithographed posters.

(C) Gallica. Bibliothèque Nationale de France


Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Sainsburys Archive at Museum of London

The Sainsburys archive is now hosted by the Museum of London, Docklands. It contains c. 16,000 items, documenting Sainsburys from its foundation in Drury Lane in 1869 to the present. A summary guide is online with hypertext links to further details of each category.
Although very litte of  the material is digitised, Story of a supermarket enables the user to explore several themes online, notably People, Places, Products and Progress. Within the Products theme, Advertising and War rationing are particularly fruitful for the ephemerist.

There are nice interactive pages too, encouraging the public to relate their memories of Sainsburys as employee or consumer, and Learning tools for children, especially KS2 teachers and pupils.
It is a good site to explore, but serious researchers will need to make an appointment.

(C) Museum of London

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Motoring ephemera: Taking the wheel at the NYPL and the John Johnson Collection's Toyota Project

Taking the wheel (from the NewYork Public Library's Digital Gallery) with its 804 images, 'offers a sampling from the year 1909 of the Science, Industry and Business Library's (SIBL) extensive collection of manufacturers' catalogs and price lists'. The entire collection numbers c. 8,000 items and covers the first three decades of the 20th century.  Other forms of transport, dating back to the 17th century, are represented in the Library but have not been systematically digitised.

The context of these 1909 images can also be searched in Related subjects, from ambulances, through opera houses to working dogs.  I loved the view of the chauffeur-driven Lorraine Diétrich in front of the Paris Opera House.
(C) New York Public Library

The Toyota Project (1996) was the Bodleian Library's first digital project.  All motoring material was indexed and digitised, together with a further 1,000 images representing the other Transport sections of the Collection.  Every page of every catalogue was scanned, but OCR was then in its infancy and the results were poor and attempts to provide full-text searchability had to be abandoned.  Keyword searching has been applied to the data (only).

(C) Bodleian Libraries: John Johnson Collection
(C) Bodleian Libraries: John Johnson Collection

The 1244 items, (570 Motoring ephemera, the rest other forms of transport) can be seen as thumbnails and medium and large images.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Women working: trade catalogues at Harvard

Available through the Harvard University Library Open Collections Program, Women Working, 1800-1930 includes (as well as books and pamphets, diaries and memoirs, institutional records, magazines, manuscripts, and photographs) 6,000 pages of materials from from 155 trade catalogs and pamphlets from 70 companies.

©2012 The President and Fellows of Harvard College
 Dating from 1870, the trade catalogues are divided into the following subject sections:
The trade catalogues are beautifully digitised in full colour. The text can be both viewed and searched (uncorrected OCR).  Related links (from individual catalogues) take the user to the full catalogue record on HOLLIS (the library catalogue for Harvard University) and to relevant external sites, where appropriate. There are also Teacher Resources, arranged by theme and a Timeline.

Patent medicine cards at UCLA

UCLA Library digital collections includes 247 Patent Medicine cards (1870 to c. 1906) from the Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library. History and Special Collections for the Sciences. These which can be browsed by language (almost exclusively English), name and subject.  Detailed metadata can be seen by clicking on the title. This also brings up a Zoomify function (which wasn't working when I tried it).

Thumbnails can be seen by clicking on the Patent Medicine cards main title or by selecting brochures, still images or trade cards under Type: still images and trade cards (genre) are applied to most of the material to enable cross-searching with other collections.   The beta viewer requires a specific term, but then allows panning of the image.


Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Posters at Harvard

Posters from the Widener Library are being digitised.  6,686 posters from the Thomas Hill collection and 470 from the James Howard Fraser collection are currently online through VIA (Visual Information Access). The main focus of the posters are the German Democratic Republic 1949-1990, and AIDS.

Other posters in Harvard collections are also online through VIA (11,364 hits for 'poster').  Good-size thumbnails are publicly available, but full-size images are restricted to the Harvard community.  Visible records are minimal (title and date) but results can be sorted by creator, title, nationality/culture, work type, date, and materials and techniques.

Copyright 2004 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Empire online

Ephemera is included in the Adam Matthew Empire online site, among manuscripts and printed documents.  The resource contains "original documents relating to Empire Studies, sourced from libraries and archives around the world". There are posters from the Empire Marking Board, for example.  The search box at top right (which can be limited by century) enables searching for genres of material: posters, programme, etc.
The site can also be searched by topic and there are academic essays, biographies, a chronology of empires and information for teachers.

Access is by subscription.

(C) Adam Matthew Digital