Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Nothing Counts on Leap Day....

...At least according to the folks on 30 Rock!  You mean you didn't grow up with Leap Day William either? :D

About a century ago, everything was backward on Leap Day!  Why, a young lady could even (GASP!) ask her beau for HIS hand!  According to Wikipedia, women can propose today only, which confirms the poem on this card.  But don't get married on a Leap Day in Greece - it's bad luck!

I once again have to thank my friend Robin for this wonderful postcard.  I have more than one, so I'll post another on February 29, 2016.  I HOPE I'll be still writing in the blog then - maybe it'll even be a BOOK!  :D  Hey, it could happen - anything's possible on Leap Day!  :D

Speaking of anything being possible on Leap Day, wouldn't it be AWESOME if we hit the 500 mark on Facebook today?  I am itchin' to get this giveaway in motion!

Here's a card that I made in 2009 - not for Leap Day, obviously, but it works today, doesn't it?  :D

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Oh (Ho Ho), it's Magic!

Sorry for the song title subject heading today, but that's the first thing I thought of when I saw this catalog!  :D

Isn't it fabulous?  I just got it from Old Stuff Only!  It's put out by the Warwick Press, makers of magic tricks, bingo games and novelties.  Don and Chris from OSO say it's circa 1950, but I'm going to put it at a little earlier, judging by the hairstyles - maybe 1945?

One of the neat things about this little catalog is that it contains a lot of "freebies" - fun "tricks" you can show your friends at school or work, like match tricks and illusions with cursive writing.  (Incidentally, "magic" tricks were pretty big when I was in grade school, but they seem to have disappeared themselves!  Is it too geeky?  Or are kids looking for Harry Potter-quality magic tricks now?)

You can most certainly tell that this is an older catalog; not only is it printed on newsprint, but there are a few novelty cigarette items for sale.  I remember seeing these at a store in the Port Plaza Mall in Green Bay called Joker's Wild, but they were in the "adults only" section of the store, along with the "nudie" ice cubes and those pens where the lady's clothes fall off when you flip the pen upside down.  Yet here they are, available for any kid to buy, no questions asked!  I would think that you'd try and find a very understanding adult to try these tricks on;  I don't think kids' jokes were tolerated as well back then.  (My mom tells the story of how her younger brother put "loads" in her cigarettes when he was a kid, but he was about 10 and my mom was 19, so she didn't get upset at him.)  :D

Speaking of magic tricks, I do have some vintage "snapping gum" packs, probably also from the 40s.  They're in MINT condition (hee hee!  Get it?  "Mint" condition because of the mint-flavored gum?  I kill me!).  I believe these also came from Old Stuff Only a few years back.  Brian and I tried them out and DANG!!  They hurt!  I love how they maneuver around the copyright by spelling Wrigley's "Wriggeyl's" - clever!  :D

I'll admit - I'm not really into magic tricks.  But there is one that intrigues me so, and it's not even real.  It comes from a movie called "The Illusionist", with Edward Norton and Paul Giamatti.  In it, Edward's character makes an orange tree grow onstage from a seed.  I love orange trees, so this fantastical illusion would be wonderful to see.

My non-magical Orange Tree ATC.  :D

Monday, February 27, 2012

But what IS it?

One of the most enjoyable things for me about collecting ephemera (and using it in my art) is finding unusual items.  I love it when I find something for sale (or on those rare occasions, literally finding something) and neither I nor the seller knows what it is, but we all know that it's cool.

I happened upon just such an item last week!  Maybe one of you, my wonderful readers, can help me out with this?  I honestly have no idea what it is.

I have some guesses, of course - that's half the fun!  I was thinking that it's a gauge of some sort; perhaps it's a measure of lines of type?  It may look like paper, but it's a very thin, vintage plastic (the melamine kind).  Judging by the back, it was stuck on something for a long time.  There are even tiny nail holes, so I'm guessing it was meant to be seen often.

It starts out in 1/8 (rounded) increments, as you can see.  Further up the line, starting at the 2, it goes to 1/4 increments.  Starting at the 4, it goes to half-increments, until finally at the 14 it goes every 2 numbers up to 20.

I also LOVE the font!  It doesn't look like Pica or Elite, but some other typewriter font of 50-60 years ago.  I can't tell if someone actually took the time to type this or if it came this way, but it's nicely embossed.

Whatever it is, I'm glad it exists!  This could've been thrown out SO easily, when an office closed or when the place updated to computers.  Instead, it probably languished in the back of a filing cabinet or drawer for decades before my friends at Silver Crow Creations found it!  Now it's mine!  And that makes me happy. :D

P.S.  We're getting clooooserrrr!!!  You must be telling your friends about our AWESOME giveaway, coming up when we hit the 500 mark on Facebook!  Tell your friends to "like" the page so that we can get this baby rollin'!  :D

Friday, February 24, 2012

Oscar Fever!

Lana Turner, August 1944

Are you feelin' it?  Do you have Oscar Fever?  :D

Rita Hayworth and Glen Ford,
November 1948
Brian and I are big movie buffs.  Every year, right around Oscar nomination time, we make a list of movies and shorts that we want to see.  We haven't seen many of the nominations yet but that's because some of them aren't even playing in our theater (we only have two theaters in Fondy; one with 8 screens and the other with two).  Sometimes movies will be shown AFTER they win Oscars - like "The Artist".  And even then it's a big "maybe".  Thank goodness for Redbox, Netflix, and my fave, the FREE rentals at our library!  :D

Check out these old "Movie Story" and "Modern Screen" magazines from the Forties that I got from my friend Suze - aren't they a hoot?  When one peruses these periodicals, it becomes very apparent how fleeting fame is.  Half of the people mentioned in these magazines are a mystery.  It could be my age, or it could be that they had their 15 minutes and disappeared forever.  It always makes me wonder who amongst the latest crop of movie stars will be all but forgotten in 2080?  :D

Case in point - I've never heard of half of the people in this "Sensations of 1945" revue.  I had to "IMDB" them (I always use that as a verb now!) to find out who they were, because of course the article just assumes that the reader would know.  And I'm sure in August of 1944 they did know, or were about to find out. Because I love Big Band music, I know who Woody Hermans and Cab Calloway are.  I've heard of Eleanor Powell, W.C. Fields (of course) and Sophie Tucker.  But Dennis O'Keefe?  Dorothy Donegan?  Eugene Pallette?  Not a clue.

So, while you're watching the Academy Awards this Sunday, write a short list of actors and actresses who you think will never be heard from again.  Keep it in a drawer and forget about it until 2032.  Read it again and see how right (or wrong!) you were.  Won't that be fun?  :D

Here's an ATC I did of silent movie star Richard Barthlemess.  It's from a 1927 newspaper ad.  He was a handsome devil, wasn't he?  Like so many of the silent movie stars, I'd never heard of him until I saw him in the vintage paper.  He must've been very popular because he was in at least three of the movies advertised on the page!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Almost There....

My dear readers, I am so excited - we are about to hit a MAJOR milestone on the Ephemeraology Facebook page!  (See that button directly to your right?  If you haven't yet, just press "like"!)

Now, 500 fans (or "likes", or whatever you'd like to call them) may not be a lot compared to some of my favorite pages, but to me it represents a huge accomplishment!  I am so thrilled that there are others out there like me who just love vintage paper and sundries (I love that word, "sundries"!).

When I started out writing Ephemeraology, I thought it would be a once-a-week post.  And for a while, it was.  But in December of 2010 I thought I'd ramp things up a bit and try to write every weekday.  In February of 2011, I had an idea to call on my favorite online shops and see if they'd like to "advertise" with me. (I put "advertise" in quotes because I don't charge them anything; these are shops with whom I personally patronize and in whom I put my trust.)  In most cases I've been shopping with them for years and they actually knew who I was when I approached them with the idea of doing giveaways.  In one case (Retro Cafe Art Gallery), I've actually met Kristin in person!

I love my advertisers and I know you do too!  So here's what we're going to do:

When the Facebook page hits that big 5-0-0, we're going to have a BLOWOUT giveaway.  I'm talkin' HUGE.  Here's what one lucky fan will win:

See what I mean by BLOWOUT?!?  This is a prize pack worth well over $100!  I am so grateful to these wonderful folks for getting in on the fun.  So tell your friends and get 'em to "like" our page - the more, the merrier!

Once we hit the 500 mark I'll write again with contest rules and all of that fun stuff.  Until then - keep your eyes on the prize and your feet buried in ephemera.  :D

Thank you again to all of you who read my blog - I couldn't have made it this far without you!   

P.S.  See that Pinterest button on the right?  You can follow me there now, too!  :D

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

When the Chips are Down

I am a salty snack person.  Who's with me?  If given the choice, I would much rather have some dill pickle-flavored cashews or potato chips than chocolate on most days.  Don't get me wrong - if there's chocolate in the house it will be eaten.  But I love chips!

There are so very many choices available to us now - a stroll past the chip aisle in the grocery store can be overwhelming!  But it wasn't so long ago that you had just a few choices - potato chips or nuthin'.  :D

Growing up in Green Bay the two main brands were Old Dutch (from Minnesota) and Jay's (based out of Chicago but now owned by Snyder's of Hanover).  Sometime in my early childhood my dad discovered Pringles and the rest was history.  I have to admit - they're my favorite, too.  Don't put a can in front of me or they will be eaten (notice a trend here?).  :D

On my first trip to Canada (Sault Ste. Marie, ON) back in 1991, I was overjoyed at the new flavor variety of potato chips available, and I tried every one.  Canadians seem to enjoy a regular tomato-flavored chip (DELISH) over our tomato blends, which almost always include some "Mexican" flavors, like "salsa".  I happen to LOVE their ketchup-flavored chips, because they're a little sweeter than ours.  Canada is also where I first tasted dill pickle potato chips, which I also love.

When we went to Hawaii four years ago, I discovered Maui Onion-flavored chips, and they're everywhere over there.  If I would've been forward-thinking at the time, I would've kept my packaging - there were some local chip companies whose names now escape me (but I believe it was this brand).

But of course, I do have some vintage packaging!  I got this canister at a garage sale last summer (the same garage sale where I purchased this mayo jar).  Potato chip canisters make me smile, probably because they'll never be sold this way again (unless it's some special "original packaging" promo).  I did a little research on these Chesty chips, which were based in Terre Haute, Indiana.  The company was founded in 1945 by a man named George Johnson.  Some say that our present-day Ruffles brand got its start from Chesty; others claim it was from a company called Dan-Dee (judge for yourself - that Ruffles logo looks pretty darn unmistakable)!

These next two bags are wonderful, aren't they?  They have that lovely late  1940s look to them, with those brilliant-but-dull colors (does that make sense?  It's the only way I know how to describe those flatly-fluorescent hues).  I got these from my favorite new-old stock emporium, Old Stuff Only.  I tried some quick research online and I found zip, except for other vendors who obviously got their two bags from OSO and are trying to resell them for insane amounts of money.

I haven't done anything with these yet, obviously, but I will.  They're just waiting for the right project.  :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

How and Why

UGH.  Science!  I dreaded this subject in school.  I was terrible at it!  There was no part of it that I enjoyed, except maybe collecting different kinds of leaves and identifying them.  Other than that, I was so lost and confused.

But maybe if I would've had these fantastic How & Why series of books, it would've made the way a little easier!  I love these - they're easy to understand, the illustrations are great, and there are little experiments to follow with the information the reader has been given.

I've collected these in many places over the years - junque shops, antique stores, our beloved AAUW book sale, Dretzka's (where it was actually new/old stock!) - they seem to be everywhere.  Which is why it's even harder to understand where these books went when I was in school, because they pre-date my school age by at least 10 years.

Take this "Sound" book - it's from 1962 (I started Kindergarten in 1973).  Aren't the illustrations fantastic?  It's also really easy to understand, although I have to wonder if this is in hindsight; maybe I just didn't "get" science back then.

As you can see, I have quite a few of these wonderful books.  They cover all manner of science - meteorology, physical science, biology, physics - all in that mid-century look that's unmistakable.  Even my beloved Futura font makes appearances!

Imagine this in a kids' book today!

These books will be collage fodder for the rest of my life - it'll take me that long to use them all!  :)

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Thrill of One-of-a-Kind

If you're a fan of vintage items (and unless you've stumbled upon this blog by accident, you are as rabid as I), then you know how much fun it is to find those items that are just so unusual, you HAVE to own it.  Today's item is just that!

I've professed my love of workbooks before, so when I saw this beautiful thing for sale at The Paper Flea Market, I knew it had to be mine.

Let's start with the awesome cover.  Our protagonist, one Martha Belt, obviously had a great sense of humor.  It is quite apparent that she didn't enjoy learning her Portuguese, either, because under the "Exercicio" title she expounded and opined, "is Extra Sick-o".  I like this girl.  :D

Judging by the "5o ano. beg." I'm going to assume that this is 5th year beginner's Portuguese (5th grade).  In the inside front cover we see that this workbook is for students of the "Ecola Americana do Rio de Janiero".  The "professora" was Arlette Maciel, which sounds as American as our Martha Belt.  My guess is that this was a school for Army base kids, perhaps?  I'm so happy that this page includes the date - 1972.  If Martha was indeed in the 5th grade range, that would make her around 50 years old now.

When the book is opened, that's when the real magic happens.  I LOVE these little drawings!  I love the typed/Photostatted look to the whole book.  For as much as Martha claims to loathe her lessons, she's a darn good student!  I see a lot of As and Bs, and her coloring skills are above reproach.

I haven't gotten around to using this book in my work, but I most certainly will at some point.  It's just too wonderful to not use!  Our Martha's work should be proudly displayed somewhere other than in a dark drawer.  :)

Friday, February 17, 2012


Quick - think of a product that has revolutionized the way we live.

Did you think of Tupperware right away?

Don't worry - I wouldn't have either!  But "Tupperware" is entering the pantheon of "proprietary eponyms", which is just the correct term for a word that is or used to be a service- or trademarked name but has been adopted by the masses to mean the entirety of the product it describes.  In other words, think Kleenex, Band-Aid, Hoover, Laundromat (I was surprised by this one!), Xerox, etc.

I grew up with Tupperware - and I am talking about the "real thing".  Back in the early 70s, there wasn't any other kind!  Every time I see a sturdy plastic juice glass, I think of my childhood.  We also had some of the early Tupperware toys (I believe they were actually called "Tuppertoys"). I very clearly remember the Shape-O-Ball.  Those babies were RUGGED!   Because I was born around the plastic boom I forget sometimes how innovative and new plastic was in those days.  No more steel, iron or wood!

Of course, Tupperware was also cutting-edge because of its direct marketing sales technique.  Back in the early days, you couldn't find Tupperware on the shelves - you had to attend a party!  This is so ingrained in our culture now (Pampered Chef, Tastefully Simple and, ahem, Pure Romance) but the "Tupperware Party" was completely innovative in the 60s.  When I think of my poor mom having to endure these parties just so we could have Tupperware, I love her even more.  :)

Now, let's talk about this AMAZING booklet!  It's a combination decorating-recipe book featuring Tupperware products. I love that old logo, don't you?  The "hostess" of the book is a woman named Virginia Stanton, who apparently shilled for Tupperware after a stint as Party Editor of House Beautiful magazine.  In the introduction, it's said that Ms. Stanton has hosted thousands of parties in her own lovely home.  Um, really?  She looks to be around 50, so that would mean approximately 3 parties a week in a 10 year span.  Apparently Virginia Stanton is the original "hostess with the mostest"!  :D

Aren't the color schemes a HOOT??  To use a horribly outdated vernacular, the only way I can describe these settings is "gaily-colored".  Another thing that made me laugh was the fact that monosodium glutamate is an actual ingredient called for in the "Iced St. Germain Soup" recipe.  See for yourself!

I learned something new when reading this booklet - I noticed that the copyright on the back is 1965, from the Rexall Drug and Chemical Company.  Sure enough - according to Wikipedia, Rexall bought the Tupperware Company from founder Earl Tupper in 1958.  How about that!

If you'd like to know more about Tupperware, I highly suggest this wonderful American Experience episode called (what else), "Tupperware!"  If you're a fan of this PBS series then you're already aware of how great it is.  This episode is no exception!  It's worth it for the rare Tupperware "Jubilee" footage alone.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies

I love kits.  I always have.  There's something about learning something new and having a complete set of tools needed for this skill at the ready.  There's the hope that you'll just dig in and be proficient right away - at least, that was always my hope.  :D

Check out this wonderful kit!  I got it at the Oshkosh Antique Mall about two years ago.  It's fairly complete - all that's missing is the bottle of ink, which I'm sure dried out 50 years ago anyway.  What it does contain is the original receipt of its purchase!  Isn't that wonderfully bizarre?  Apparently you could purchase art supplies at the Sherwin Williams store in Dubuque, IA back in 1952.  Of course, the fact that it's still in there tells me that someone got this as a gift and wasn't real keen on the idea. Indeed, only 4 of the 9 pen nibs look like they've been used.

His or her loss is my gain!  The instruction manual looks like it could've been printed yesterday!  There is also a price list that's in pristine condition. It appears that a modeling knife was thrown in the box later - it's really scary-looking.

This whole kit is so cool, I think I'm going to submit it to The Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies.  What's that, you ask?  Well, I just discovered it a
few days ago - if you visit, be prepared to lose HOURS there.  It was started by a man named Lou Brooks, who toiled in the field of graphic arts beginning in 1965 at the Philadelphia Bulletin, a now-defunct newspaper.  He's the guy responsible for, among other things, the redesign of  "Mr. Monopoly".  How fun is that?

The museum itself is divided into 16 categories, ranging from color charts to waxers to typography.  It is utterly fascinating to see what graphic artists, cartoonists and artists had to deal with before the advent of Micron pens and computers.  There is also a wonderful section called "Unforgettable Art Supply Moment", where artists talk about their worst nightmare experiences with vintage art supplies, and those art supplies that have bitten the dust but they still wish existed.  Like I said - expect to waste HOURS there, but it's time well spent.  :D

I've made one ATC that uses old art supply ads from the 1940s (and vintage Letraset letters!).  I'm quite nostalgic for the old supplies, even though they probably would've made me crazily frustrated!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Greetings from South Africa!

Or if you speak Afrikaans, "Groete uit Suid-Afrika!"

If you follow me on Facebook (and if you don't, then join us!), you might've seen the tease I did on Monday about today's post.  When I saw the envelope in the mailbox, it took me a minute to realize what it was.  Oh my goodness, was I ever thrilled when I opened it up!

Okay, a little back story - I got the loveliest e-mail from a gentleman named Cuan, who just wanted to write and tell me how much he enjoyed the blog.  Isn't that so nice?  :D  He is a fellow ephemera collector and mail artist (and as you can see, he included two of his wonderful ATCs for me!).  He wondered if I wouldn't want some ephemera "from his corner of the world".  

WOULD I?!?  In all of my ephemera swaps and ATC trades over the last six years, I don't believe I've ever had any contact with someone from South Africa.  From where I sit, here in Middle America, South Africa seems like a whole 'nother world.  I gladly accepted his offer and, less than three weeks later, the packet arrived, along with a very detailed note and the aforementioned ATCs.  What a wonderful surprise!

Since South Africa is 8 hours ahead of me time-wise, I wanted to get a quick thank you out (it was 10:45 his time).  In my haste, I hadn't even looked through everything yet.  Now that I've had a chance to digest its contents, allow me to share some of my favorite bits with you (in Cuan's own words from his VERY thorough and fascinating note)!  :D

Various tickets (Cuan says these are for library fines?): I live in East London, a city on the East Coast of S.A. It is set on the Buffalo River - hence Buffalo City municipality.  The white ticket is for a public bus. The yellow one is a train ticket from Berlin (small village named by German colonists) to Vincent.  The pink one is for a flea market in Johannesburg (it's SO cool to know that flea markets exist on the other side of the world!).

Bubble gum wrappers: one from S.A. and one from Botswana.  All South African kids grew up with Chappies (trivia).

Emirates sticker from when we flew to the Comores Islands (I had to look up where the Comores Islands are located!  I need to brush up on my geography!)  We did a Nile cruise.  This is a bar bill from the MS Glory (a NILE cruise?!  How cool would that be?!)

Found photo - I think the pic of the waiter must be from Zimbabwe or Kenya, circa 1960s (indeed, the photo is dated 1968).

Licky Lick sherbet pack - I have a notorious sweet tooth and collect sherbet, bubble gum, chocolate wrappers, etc. etc. etc. (that makes two of us, Cuan!).

Air mail stamp from the 1970s, featuring the notorious old S.A. flag (you can see the new one here). 

Old hair net package - possibly from the 1950s (you KNOW how much I love these!)

Some bar coasters - another of my ephemera interests - featuring long-defunct local brands.  A lot of S.A. stuff is bilingual, featuring English/Afrikaans.

Juicy Lucy sugar packet - this was a fast food chain featuring "healthy" food - didn't last long.  This is from the years before McDonald's colonized Africa (excellent choice of wording, Cuan!).

A page from a manual on Fangalo.  Fangalo was a language formed at the mines in S.A. where workers from various tribes worked together.  It was an attempt to create a simple communication medium where everyone could understand each other (and I thought my Esperanto dictionary page was unusual!  This one now holds the title as the COOLEST foreign language dictionary page in my collection!).

Some South African cigarette cards from when smoking was still socially acceptable. (Makes me wonder if there is anywhere in the developed world where smoking IS still acceptable?) 

There you have it.  And this was only about HALF of what I received in the packet (I'll do another post about the rest in the future)!  I know I learned so much from this packet!  Just from this ephemera I got lessons in history, geography, linguistics, pop culture, sociology.....and THIS is why ephemera, for all of its throwaway reputation, is important!  It's through our ephemera that we can learn more about cultures different from ours (and as we can see, sometimes not-so-different).

I want to publicly thank Cuan for taking time out to send me not only some great mail art, but some AMAZING ephemera!  I will treasure it, that's guaranteed!!!