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Ephemera: Transient Documents of Life

Filling your home with meaningful/amazing artifacts is fundamental to human expression. It essentially lets us “think” outside our bodies, leaving reminders of what is important to us through the artifact’s placement and presence. Some favor old manuscripts and books lined across rustic bookshelves. Others prefer music from old records or unique graphic notations for experimental music. These vintage items, tastefully displayed, enlighten our perspective more fascinating ways of viewing the world.

… Funny all those majestic feelings can come from art meant to last a day! We’re talking about Ephemera artifacts in this article, showing how old advertisements and newspapers give a truly unique window in how past generations saw the world.

Remind me What Ephemera is Again….

Simply put, think of ephemera as the daily documents of everyday life that grow more rare as generations pass. That’s why newspapers and advertisements from earlier centuries are good examples, but when you really starting thinking, there are literally hundreds of different ephemera artifacts to check out! They get auction off as unique and rare antiques in most marketplaces. A few of our favorites are below:

⦁ Newspaper

⦁ Poster

⦁ Luggage label

⦁ Advertisements (old time ads from the 50s like Coppertone girl)

⦁ Bank checks

⦁ Birthday cards

⦁ Bookmarks

⦁ Brochures

⦁ Cinema lobby cards

⦁ Invitations

⦁ Magazines/newspapers

⦁ Manuscripts

⦁ Maps

⦁ Menus

⦁ Pamphlets

⦁ Rare books

⦁ Postcards

⦁ Posters

⦁ Programs

⦁ Stock bonds

⦁ Tickets

⦁ Timetables

⦁ Antique graphic notation

⦁ Trade catalogues

⦁ Those little plastic cards you get for your hotel room door

⦁ Like a thousand other things like this

Anyways, now that you have a firm grasp of what kinds of artifacts ephemera entails, check out a few ephemera pieces that provide simply crazy windows into the past. It should help get you thinking what kind of unique ephemera pieces you might be interested in picking up! There are ephemera auctions held online frequently, so check that out too if you want to dive into the unique world of ephemera antiques!

Three Shockingly Interesting Ephemera Art Pieces

Bayer Pharmaceuticals Sold Heroin Alongside Aspirin

Check it ouuuuuuut, you used to be able to pick up some nice clean heroin with your Bayer Aspirin! Awesome! Wow, the early 1900s were just a good time, weren’t they? America was manifesting its destiny, and it proudly advertised heroin to children. God Bless it, anyone who hangs this up in their house somewhere is an absolute legend. Perfect example of a unique graphic from a certain point in time. Some people have compiled old books of all the craziest advertising pitches from these generations; they make for a real cornucopia of imagery. This was one of our favorites because look at the kids in the corner; they are seriously considering drinking that bottle of lean on the kitchen counter. What kind of world did people from this time live in? Jesus. Moving on to more unique auction ephemera…

The Letter that Inspired Beat Poet Jack Kerouac’s On the Road

This old manuscript is apparently the letter that inspired one of the Beat Generations greatest poets: Jack Kerouac. As far as old books and rare books go, you can see why this manuscript may be treasured by literature lovers of a new generation. You can almost still see the imprint of the pen and the fingerprints from Kerouac sealing up his letter. His side notes look like they were scribbled in English class, and there is something so serene knowing this unique manuscript led to some of the greatest books of the 20th century. It’s a unique find, and if you ever find something like this up for auction, take it!

Led Zeppelin Original Posters

For music lovers, this could be considered the best ephemera on the list: some original Led Zeppelin posters. The one of Jimmy Page playing at the Forum is particularly unique. Some antique graphic notation of Zeppelin’s sheet music or lyrics would be crazy interesting to find too, so keep an eye out for auction items that involve writings like that. For now, we that these posters would get you thinking about all the crazy music ephemera that is on auction! Everything from hip hop to EDM to Jazz, there must be thousands of highly unique collectibles out there.

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