World’s Most Curious Ephemera

Posted: February 9, 2008 in WEIRD

Pieces of Paper that Intrigue & Inspire

It’s hard to
put a value on certain printed artifacts of our culture, the flotsam
and jetsam that we encounter every day and sometimes even hate with a
passion (like tickets, receipts, statements, etc).

For all we
know, what’s considered passe and banal today can achieve highest
collectible value tomorrow. It’s hard to gauge the sensibilities, or
even trends, of our successors. They might disregard old books and
postcards, but go squirrely nuts about old grocery receipts, or product
bar codes (perhaps containing secret code plans for fledging worldwide
revolution by some sinister AI…)

Japanese Electronics Catalog, 1971:

like to flip through the pages of vintage ephemera and fancy
scrapbooking, possibly measuring how much we’ve changed ourselves and
how much our own world grew different from that of our ancestors. For
this very reason, I believe, the sites and collection that preserve
such seemingly little-valued printed material deserve respect – and may
score big when the tide of society and culture changes.

Miniature television set, 1940 (?)

The World of Old Paper

Marty Weil from an excellent blog Ephemera explores the "world of old paper" and regularly comes up with items worth a second look.
Here are a few, admitted into his "hit parade" of World’s Coolest Ephemera:

1921 Multiple Choice Correspondence Card

ladies (or "dazed" guys) who found it hard to correspond with their
love interests in the midst of the intense vacation, could use this
handy tool to make up their mind – if they feel "OKEH", or not.

(click to enlarge)

1950s Parisian strip club flyer

This flyer also has another side, which, "if shown in full glory, might be too salacious for ephemera regulars."

World War II hand-held fan (with the Pledge of Allegiance)

For a wartime lady, a fold-out fan to disperse the gun smoke and achieve some elegance – all the torpedoes be damned.

Porno Movie Waiver from 1969
(click to enlarge)

could not enter the theater to see some weird "Infrasexum" movie, if
you did not sign this form (which asks for your address, too!) –

you read the fine print, this flyer also has the audacity to declare
that by signing it you throw your full support to the adult industry,
their production and distribution of such films in your community – a
moral waiver, as well as a political one – all for a single pen stroke
and a price of one admission.

One Good Turn Deserves Another

From the collection of Malcolm Warrington comes this culinary reversal of roles:

Mice preparing to eat a cat:

Turkeys preparing to roast a chef:

We heartily recommend Ephemera
as a one-stop destination for all things printed and vintage, and will
continue to feature some of the coolest stuff appearing there. Marty
Weil says: "I’m on a mission to explore the world of old paper, but
truly, I am are exploring the world
through old paper. Meaning,
I’m on a journey to both showcase interesting ephemera and the small
histories suggested by these remarkable and wonderful pieces of raw,
unedited history, and at the same time, bringing my own personal
experiences to bear on the topic at hand".

The World’s Rarest Signature

According to this honor goes to the autograph of William Shakespeare:

Every occasion of this signature, if found, will go for a cool $3 million.

Barf Bags (Air Sickness Bags) Collection

Steve Silberberg has been collecting barf bags for more than 25 years (see interview with him at Ephemera), and has some politically correct/incorrect items –

Clinton and George W. Bush barf bags present a hard choice for those
politically indecisive in a moment of barfing weakness.

Medicine Atlas not for the faint of heart

of National Library of Medicine comes this freaky, but strangely
fascinating Medicine Atlas from Germany in the early 17th century:

Human anatomy too disturbing for you?
Feast your eyes on Basilius (Basil) Besler’s (1561–1629) Wunderkammern (Cabinet of Curiosities) – read more here
(click to enlarge)

You can see McDonalds’ hamburger in the middle of this page:

Gorgeous French Postcards from "La Belle Epoch":

Especially good find for the coming Valentine, the Tallulah website offers extensive collection of French vintage art and photos, many of "Love & Romance" variety (some might be nsfw):

Winged ladies –

Among the especially rare postcards are the so-called "satirical metamorphic" images:
Portraits of famous political figures made up of nude women and romancing couples!

Read an interview with Tallulah’s web master here

Other amazing printed bits & pieces

UFO Turkmenistan stamp (?!)

Ivy Pete & his Limbo-maniacs record sleeve cover:

Some of the old pulp art was simply beyond thrilling:

Hmmm…. vintage ad for Springmaid Fabrics. Kill two birds with one stone:

Early Vegas postcards site is a treasure-trove of sorts:

Early Detroit:

and Early Disneyland (see here)

Vintage motels cards collection :

Computer: "How it Works" – book from 1971 on-line here
(check out the SMALL digital computer, designed for a businessman)

However, computer-related "ephemera" deserves its own article.

In conclusion, I am going to give you a link to Flickr Vintage Postcard Pool – one can spend days there…

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