Thursday, September 13, 2012

Das Loterie!

On Monday, I received in the mail what is now the oldest ephemera (that I know of) in my collection:


I got this amazing set at Paper Flea Market (speaking of this wonderful shop - have you entered our giveaway for the PFM $15 gift certificate yet?!?).  When I saw all of that amazing handwriting, it had to be mine.

Because it's 124 years old, it's in pretty delicate shape.  I haven't even dared to take the largest piece out of its sleeve yet - it's folded unto itself and I fear even more damage.  But the envelope and blue "folio" are in amazing shape for their age!

What strikes me the most about these pieces is the wording - firstly, the office is in Hamburg, but it's all clearly in English.  Also, people must've had a lot more time on their hands back then, because not only is it handwritten (they may not have even had a typewriter yet!), but they use a LOT of words to say what they want to say.  Whereas today, someone would write: "Here is the 5th class prize list and 6th class 1/4 renewal ticket", Back then they said, "Herewith I beg to hand you the official prize list of the 5th Class and also your 1/4 Renewal Ticket for the 6th Class Hamburg Money Lottery, wishing you the best success - "

I can't say as I know how this lottery works, seeing as how it's written in what I like to call "casual legalese". :)  I think what's going on is that this guy, a Mr. George Goss from Cameron, Pennsylvania, pays into the lottery and if he wins, then a percentage of his winnings go right back into the lottery - sort of like a dividend. What's interesting is that nothing's really changed except the printing; there's as much advertising and excitement generated around this lottery and there are our state lotteries of today.  But it smells like a giant scam to me, and a VERY expensive one at that!  I used a currency calculator and inflation adjuster, and 300,000 Marks in 1888 would equal $4,742,902.24 in today's US dollars.  YOWZA!!  Of course, there is no such thing as a Deutche Mark anymore, but I digress.  :D

Some of you may be wondering if I'll be using this stuff in my art work - yes?  Please don't hurt me!  I know some of you feel sick right now - HOW could I possibly deface some 124 year-old beautiful papers?!  I completely understand how you feel.  But since they're decaying already - so badly that I don't want to remove the sheets from the casing - what good will it be in 100 years?  I may leave the blue sheet intact, but the envelope and other sheet are fair game in my book.

If I do happen to use it, I'll be sure to post the final result!  :D


  1. Go for it Mel - it deserves to be incorporated into art. If your REALLY concerned about using the original then scan it... otherwise it just sits unappreciated in a "new" drawer (considering it probably came from another drawer). LOL

    1. Thanks Jewels! You're absolutely right. And since I always use originals in my work, cutting it up is the right thing to do. I'll give it a new lease on life! :D Thanks for the push! :D

    2. What a treasure! As for using it, think of it as giving the piece a new whole life.

  2. Definitely fair game. At least, by using them, parts will be preserved for much longer. Absolutely fabulous find.

  3. Wow, what a find! I just love old handwritten papers. Not only was the style of writing more fancy and flowery (herewith, etc.), but the handwriting itself is so fancy and "graceful". It's almost like calligraphy. I suppose since they were using the pens that they dipped in ink, maybe that gave the lettering a fancier look, and I think they would have had to write more slowly and carefully with that kind of pen.
    I also struggle with guilt when thinking about using really, really old pieces in my work, but I always justify it by thinking that, not only am I preserving it, but I'm also making it "artful", so to speak. You could preserve it by putting it in a frame just all by itself, but, since it's falling apart anyway, why not make it a bit more interesting by presenting it in a creative way in one of your art pieces?
    Very cool stuff!