Before the Internet reduced all correspondence and information to colorless bits and bytes, paper was the medium through which one learned what was happening in the world or back home. Newspapers ran banner headlines shouting yesterday’s news, magazines published important stories about things that had occurred weeks before, and letters from soldiers in far-off lands could take months to arrive. Now we can get these sorts of communications instantly. Who needs paper anymore?

Well, one of the things we’ve lost as we’ve consigned paper to history’s recycling bin is a record of the important events and moments in our lives. By definition, the documentation produced on paper is always incomplete, lacking 21st-century givens such as audio and video, for example. But paper does give us a snapshot of how events were viewed at roughly the time they occurred. And for scholars, historians, and amateur archivists, the omissions missing in the printed record are often more important than what made it onto the page.

Newspapers are probably the bulkiest and most fragile form of paper. Made of thin, inexpensive material, newspapers were meant to be disposed of, or perhaps reused at the bottom of a bird cage, after their contents had been consumed. The ones that have survived remind us that in the 18th century, Benjamin Franklin printed and published the “Pennsylvania Gazette,” and that the “New York Times” has been around long enough to have reported both the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in 1865 and the death of John Wilkes Booth a few weeks later.

In fact, death is a favorite topic of newspaper collectors, whether the unfortunate subject is Babe Ruth, President Kennedy, or Elvis. Similarly, the beginnings and conclusions of armed conflicts are in demand, as well as catalyzing events like the bombing of Pearl Harbor. But newspaper collectors also like to amass records of achievements, such as when Apollo 11 landed on the moon in 1969 or when Harry Truman defeated Thomas Dewey for the U.S. presidency in 1948, although the most sought-after paper from that election is the November 3 edition of the “Chicago Daily Tribune,” which famously got the story wrong.

Because magazines could never be as timely as newspapers, which themselves were out of date before the ink had dried on their pages, publishers and editors focused on evergreen subjects. Photographs of naked women fit this model perfectly, which is perhaps one reason why “Playboy” is among the most collected magazines around, especially its first issue in December of 1953, which featured a centerfold of Marilyn Monroe. Other magazines deemed historically significant include a late-19th, early-20th century humor magazine called “Puck.”

Beyond these bound examples of paper are the loose pieces, which range from maps to menus, letterheads to stock certificates, used and unused ticket stubs to out-of-date brochures. Of particular interest are calendars, which assured that an advertiser’s message would remain in a home or on the wall of a business for a full year, as well as paper dolls, which had heydays during the Victorian Era and in the decades between World War I and World War II.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

National Archives of the U.K.

National Archives of the U.K.

A treasure trove of early paper and historical items from the Middle Ages to the 20th century awaits at the United … [read review or visit site]

Ephemera Blog

Ephemera Blog

Marty Weil's wide-ranging, in-depth blog on ephemera, including lots of great interviews with ephemera collectors. … [read review or visit site]

Ephemera Society of America

Ephemera Society of America

Great reference on ephemera... includes examples and descriptions of various ephemera categories, selected special … [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Most watched eBay auctions    

18th Century Map United States North Armerica Unknown Territory 1780 Bonne GoodRare Hy Hintermeister 1930s Art Deco Cleopatra Pin-up Print Egyptian Splendor NrHuge 156 Vtg Handwritten Letters 1944 Young Lady & 6 Soldiers Ww2 CorrespondenceVintage Lot 200+ 1930s - 70s Greeting Cards Valentines Christmas Easter BirthdayOld Love Letters 1892 The Waldorf Normandy Hotel Paris 3 Cent Washington Stamp Ruehl Heckman 1940 Thos D Murphy Aviation Calendar Sample Flying Over Avalon Nr1726 Early Colonial Connecticut Court Document, Reign King George I3 Superb Antique French Document Letters Dated 1830 Theatre Subscription RequestDamsel 1930s Gil Elvgren Pin-up Print Louis F Dow Vintage Cheesecake Garter CladRobert Carter Iii Of Virginia, 1793 Autograph Document, Balitmore Indenture1940s Original Illustration Art Pencil Drawing Vintage Bathing Beauty Pin-up1790, Louisville, Kentucky, Daniel Brodhead Jr, Early Signed Document, Supplies1865-66 Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper Weekly Bound Volume Lincoln 57 MagsIraq Diplomatic Passport 1976 - Ahmed Hassan Al-bakr PresidencyPoster Cabaret Cancan Casino De Paris Music Hall Super Revue E313Gold Artifice Deck Of Playing Cards From Ellusionist-new Sealed Rare DeckJ78 - Victorian Cat Xmas Card - Anthropomorphic Kittens Eating At The FiresideVtg December 1954 Playboy Vol 2 #1 Playmate Terry Ryan Nude Pinup Men's MagazineDiplomatic Passport East Germany Ddr Federal SecretaryVintage Love Letter Lot (165) 1889-1890 Wharton Lockwood Westmoreland Coal Antique Victorian Scrap Book Trade Cards, Die Cuts Children, Pets, Lovely LadiesFantastic Lot Of 100 + Vtg Valentine's Day Cards Alice In Wonderland Art Playing Cards Miniature Pack Dominic Murphy Collectable1917 Arthur John Elsley Tdm Calendar St. Bernard & Family At Beach Antique RareVintage Wwii Era Scrap Book Memory Album Full Of Paper Goods, Clippings EtcElvgren 1949 Pin-up Print Nude Blonde Is A Modern Venus Brown & Bigelow Nr Fine1891 Boston Spiritualist, John S Adams Letter, Mediums, Spiritualism1857-1860 Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper Weekly Bound Volume Lincoln Big-huge- 1912 -titanic Sinking- Bound Newspaper Book - Hartford, MichiganOriginal Titanic Newspaper April 17,1912 Philadelphia Public Ledger Complete 20pBlue Ribbon 929 Pinochle Playing Cards, Blue, Mint With Stamp1784 Revolutionary War, Ct Pay Document Supplies, Timothy Bradley, George Wyllys1990 Canceled Passport Book Jamaica Many Stamps & Pages Stamps 1984 Canceled Passport Book Belize Many Stamps Residence Permit F.r. Of GermanyRolf Armstrong Pin-up Calendar Brown & Bigelow Remembrance Advertising Mint Nr1852 Athol Ma Spiritualism, Spirits, Handwritten Letter - Reverend ClarkeFreedom Of The City Of London Document, Dated 1879, Edward Rofs Charles WhethamCivil War Document 121st Pennsylvania Vols Gettysburg Wilderness FredericksburgWhite Centurions Playing Cards From Theory 11. Rare, Hard To Find Daniel Madison Blue Rounders Playing Cards Deck. Rare Ellusionist DeckVintage Scrapbooks Lot 3 Scrapbooks Montana Family Tons Of Greeting Cards, Pics 1 Single Swap Playing Card Antique Wide Train Ad Maine Central Railroad VintageFrancis B Ogden U S Consul Liverpool England Signed 1836 Customs DocumentVintage Bicycle New Fan Back Playing Cards 808 Tax Stamp Sealed Deck Air Cushion1861 Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper Weekly Bound Volume Civil War LincolnOriginal Nov. 3, 1948 Chicago Daily Tribune Newspaper: Dewey Defeats Truman Gold Monarchs Playing Cards By Theory111983 Canceled Passport Book D'haiti Many Tax Stamps Visa Canada 1989 Carol Alt Calendar 15 X 15 Opened But Never Used Vintage Nudes Adult Deck Of Playing Cards By World BeautyIndians - 1 Lady - Old Wide Single Vintage Swap Playing Cards !The Nile Fortune Telling Cards Playing No ReserveHuge World Paper Document Lot: 73 Items W/22 BanknotesVintage 1940s Art Deco Billy Devorss Drum Majorette Pin-up Girl Print Vibrant Nr1901 Very Large Morrison & Robinson Map Of Seattle Washington VicinityRare Painted Perpetual Calendar By Mackenzie Childs C 1983Antique 1815 Birth & Christening Certificate/fraktur Cumberland Pennsylvania1793 Court Document Signed Richard Varick !! Private Secretary George WashingtonMalta- 2 X 15/- Shilling And 1 Pound Passport Fee Stamps- Hand Stamps -1966Vintage Complete Varga "pin-up" Girl Calendar From 1943