Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Why we keep what we keep

I've been fortunate to do some traveling.  I've been to 26 of our lovely 50 states, and have been to the two most remote, Alaska and Hawaii.  I've been to Canada (only Ontario and B.C., though) ten times.  In college I was able to spend a month in Vienna, with side trips to Salzburg, Krems and Budapest.  And I have many, many souvenirs to show for it.

Maybe that's why I love collecting foreign invoices.  I totally understand why someone would keep these!  The invoices that I've chosen for the photo are some of my favorites, mainly because of their images, but I'm also very interested in US brands overseas.

Check out the Esso invoice!  That's a lot of color for a gasoline receipt!  I also love the Exxon tiger peeking out from the side.  It's fascinating to me that Finnish kids would have the same memories of that tiger as I do (although, to be fair, they discontinued that tiger when I was really young).  I also can appreciate the Sheraton invoice from Jerusalem and the TraveLodge from Adelaide, SA, Australia (in the group photo).  When I think of TraveLodge, I think of kitchy vintage motels on now-forgotten highways like Route 66.  Who knew that the Aussies had the same thing? 

Here's a little Chinglish for you - did you notice the "Ex chauge" misspelling on the exchange certificate?  Love that.  He got 417.13 Yuan for his $50.  And that was back in 1995!  Today, he would've gotten only $341.52.  Just goes to show you how weak our dollar is (or the strength of the Yuan!).

I also like devising stories to go with these now-forgotten souvenirs.  Were these trips for business, or pleasure?  Did these people go alone, with a tour, with their spouse or their kids?  Why did these particular places appeal to the trip-goers?  If it was recreational, did they plan these trips because of ancestry, or because they got a good deal?  Maybe the just enjoyed that particular ethnic food type, and wanted to learn more about that country.  Sometimes it's more fun when these questions aren't answered, except by me.

If this type of collection appeals to you, you can still get them for a song at various online shops.  I think the whole collection I've shown cost me less than four bucks.

Here is a collage that I made with some of my Grammie's Paris receipts - I was the fortunate recipient of all of her European souvenirs when she had to go into assisted living and rather than have them sit in a drawer somewhere, I thought I'd make art out of them, as an homage to her love of travel.  It's unfortunate that she doesn't remember any of her trips - she loved to travel so much, and she saw many corners of the globe.


  1. Travel! What a great topic and the color really went with great with my morning coffee...thanks for posting on the Ephemera Society Facebook....Maybe you should lecture next symposium or share with the group with this cool topic!

  2. Hi Elizabeth!

    Thanks so much for finding me here and on the Ephemera Society Facebook page. I appreciate your comment - I would love to give a talk at the next symposium; I've spoken with Frank DeFreitas about it too!

    I took a look at your blog and promptly began "following" you, as I know I'll enjoy hearing about your very cool project! :D