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World's Most Curious Ephemera

"QUANTUM SHOT" #366(rev)
Link - article by Avi Abrams

Pieces of Paper that Intrigue & Inspire

It's hard to put a value on certain printed artifacts of our culture, this ephemeral flotsam and jetsam that we encounter every day and - admittedly - sometimes even hate with a passion (these pesky bills, tickets, receipts, statements, etc).

And yet, for all we know, what's considered passe and banal today may acquire a highest collectible value tomorrow. It's hard to gauge the sensibilities and popularity trends of our successors. They might blithely 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...)

Here's the Japanese Electronics Catalog, 1971:

Why do we like to flip through pages and pages of vintage ephemera and fancy scrapbooking so much? Maybe because we are subconsciously measuring how much we've changed ourselves through the years, and how much our own world grew different from that of our ancestors. For this very reason, I believe that the sites and collections that preserve such seemingly little-valued printed material deserve the most of respect - and may eventually score big when the tide of society and culture shifts in some rather obscure direction.

A miniature television set, 1941 -

The World of Old Paper

Marty Weil from the excellent (though currently inactive) site Ephemera for years explored the "world of old paper" and has accumulated a wealth of items worth a second look. Here are a few items that almost could be called a "hit parade" of the World's Coolest Ephemera:

The 1921 Multiple Choice Correspondence Card

Certain love-struck ladies (and "bedazzled" guys) who found it hard to correspond with their love interests in the midst of unforgettable vacation, could use this handy tool to make up their mind - see if they feel "OKEH", or maybe significantly, unbelievably better? -

(image credit: Rachel)

A 1950s Parisian strip club flyer

This flyer also has a printed opposite side, which, "if shown in full glory, might be too salacious for ephemera regulars" -

(Submitted by Sarah Norris)

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

For a classy wartime lady, here is a fold-out fan to disperse the gun smoke and achieve the heights of elegance - and damn all the torpedoes:

(Submitted by Owen Tew)

A Porno Movie Waiver from 1969

You could not enter a sleazy theater to see some "Infrasexum" movie, if you did not sign this form (which asks for your address, too!) -

(Submitted by T. Mike Childs)

If 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... and turkeys preparing to roast a chef:

We heartily recommend Ephemera as an extensive collection for all things printed and vintage. 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 some this honor goes to the autograph of William Shakespeare:

(image via)

Every tangible occurrence of this signature, if ever found by some lucky individual, can be sold on an auction 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 found many hilarious, and politically incorrect items, for example:

Hilary Clinton and George W. Bush barf bags may present an impossible choice for politically indecisive voters (if struck by a moment of barfing weakness during these politians' campaign).

A Medicine Atlas Not for the Faint of Heart

Courtesy of National Library of Medicine comes this freakishly bizzare, but also strangely fascinating Medicine Atlas (Germany, early 17th century):

(images via)

You find human anatomy too disturbing? Then feast your eyes on Basilius (Basil) Besler's (1561–1629) Wunderkammern (Cabinet of Curiosities):

(images via)

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

Gorgeous French Postcards from "La Belle Epoch":

Certainly a good find for Valentine's Day, the Tallulah collection offers lots of vintage French art and photos, many of the "Love & Romance" variety (some might be nsfw):

The Winged Ladies:

(bottom image via)

Some of 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 & Tajikistan stamps... There were actually many UFO-themed stamps issued around the world, see some of them here.

(images via)

Ivy Pete & his Limbo-maniacs record sleeve cover - see a lot more strange vintage LP covers here:

Some of the old pulp art was simply beyond amazing... and out-of-this-world thrilling:

Hmmm.... this vintage ad for Springmaid Fabrics seem to kill two birds with one stone (left image); on the right is the beautiful poster of U.S. ice skater Tara Lipinski:

The Early Vegas postcards site is a treasure-trove of sorts - see a lot more awesome Vegas pieces here:

(images credit: Erik Wunstell)

Early Detroit (see more here):

...and Early Disneyland (see here)

(images via)

Vintage motels cards collection :

Computer-related ephemera: the "How it Works" book from 1971 is located here. Check out the SMALL (and MINI !) digital computer, designed for a businessman:

Although computer-related "ephemera" deserves its own article in due time. In conclusion, I am going to give you a link to the Flickr Vintage Postcard Pool - one can spend days there...

Article by Avi Abrams, Dark Roasted Blend.




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