The dictionary defines ephemera as “collectibles (as posters, broadsides and tickets) not intended to have lasting value.” However, these items have indeed become valuable as snippets of history like those found in a time capsule, only in better condition. This week we present a representative collection of ephemera spanning the 20th century. Take a look at some of the outstanding pieces below.
Interest in space exploration and travel is firing up again, and demand from collectors is at an all-time high. A collectible from the NASA space shuttle era is a crew-signed STS-38 launch date cover. The commemorative envelope is dated Nov. 15 1990, the day Space Shuttle Atlantis, on her seventh voyage, carried a classified payload for the U.S. Department of Defense. The cover is signed by Richard O. Covey and crew.
The resignation of President Richard M. Nixon in 1974 as a result of the Watergate cover-up was a dark moment in U.S. history. A limited-edition commemorative broadside marking the swearing in of Vice President Gerald R. Ford as the 38th U.S. president on August 9, 1974 marked a fresh start for the nation.
The broadside includes the full text of the president’s swearing in address, which reads in part: “My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over. Our Constitution works; our great Republic is a government of laws and not of men. Here, the people rule. But there is a higher Power, by whatever name we honor Him, who ordains not only righteousness but love, not only justice, but mercy. … let us restore the golden rule to our political process, and let brotherly love purge our hearts of suspicion and hate.”
Going back to the early 1950s is a four-page sales brochure from the Ravenswood Novelty Works of Ravenswood, West Virginia, for its glass marbles. The cover photo features boys playing a game of marbles, while the other pages picture “American-made quality marbles.”
Several lots date to the World War II era, including a group of 87 envelopes printed with patriotic scenes and mottos. All are unused and in very good condition. Some salute branches of the military, while others feature specific events or public figures. During the war patriotic mail was one of the many forms of support that helped sustain the morale of those abroad and at home.
Another WWII-era lot consists of four black and white photographs of U.S. Navy pilots in flight gear with their planes.
Early photographs of Native Americans are always of interest and this collection has two unusual examples. One is an 1880s magic lantern glass side of three girls from a Yuma, Arizona, tribe. Magic lanterns projected images on a screen for entertainment or educational purposes. No photographer’s name is stated, but the image is numbered “08” in similar fashion to Elias Bonine’s photographs of this era. A lesser-known photographer, Bonine established a studio in Yuma in 1881, where he produced images of local tribes in situations mostly staged for the benefit of the public.
The other photographic image of a Native American is the famous Chiricahua Apache leader Geronimo, taken by W.H. Martin in 1905 at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. The postcard bears a 1909 copyright, the year the Apache leader died.
Also featured in this curated sale, is a collection over 60 20th century road maps and travel brochures. Take a look at the full auction here and enjoy.