Thursday, May 31, 2012

Persimmons Finds!

Before I begin discussing my AMAZING ephemera finds from Ephemerafest, I have a couple of announcements.  Firstly, I have the BEST readers in the whole world!  Thank you so much for your feedback on yesterday's post - it's so affirming!  :D

Secondly, I'm a doofus and I never told you when the 100K Giveaway is ending!  Silly me!  So here goes:  You have until tomorrow night (Friday) at 5 p.m. CST.  I will then randomly draw a name - I hope you remembered to include your e-mail address!  If you haven't signed up yet, now's the time!  :D

OKAY!  On to the good stuff - the reason you read my posts every day - the EPHEMERA!!!

This is the third year that I've been going to Manitowoc to visit the lovely and talented Kim Geiser at Persimmons, and I think this year's haul is the best I've ever gotten (I know, I say that every year!).  Check this out:

Aren't they so cool?  It's a lot of unused vintage restaurant checks!  I don't think Pete's Cafe exists anymore, but I can imagine myself ordering a juicy T-bone steak - that's what it says right on the check, after all, "The Home of T Bone Steaks"!  :D  I don't know how I'll use these just yet, but I do have the spark of an idea.  :D

I love it when I find little packets of things that have never been used, like these "fancy trimmings"!  I love these and I will definitely be ripping open the package and using the contents.  Okay, maybe not ripping the packet open - I have to save that top part for another project!  :D

This next piece is a bit of a mystery - we know it's from 1963, but what for?  The closest I can come to an answer is that Bay Meadows is a racetrack - it says "4th race' on there and "IF 1st, 2nd or 3rd - CASH", which made me think that it means "win, place or show", maybe?  Well, whatever it is, I LOVE the weird ZEiQH lettering in different fonts - is that some sort of security measure or something?

This next lot is amazing in that it exists at all!  I mean, wouldn't vintage cigarette wrappers count as quite possibly the most ephemeral of ephemera?  They were created to be destroyed!  At first I thought these might've come from a cigarette manufacturer but upon searching I discovered that these were made for "rolling your own".  This makes sense - I have NEVER in my ephemera journeys ever seen anything quite like these!  They may be from the 40s or 50s and I believe they were made in Canada.  I won't use all of them but oh yes, these will be employed in a project or two.  :)

Speaking of Canada - last, but certainly not least is this Canadian flag decal, still in its original sleeve!  I wouldn't even try to stick this on anything now - I'm certain the adhesive is shot.  But I LOVE Canada, and I've actually been to Sarnia many times - my dear friends Kim & Dave used to live in Port Huron, Michigan, which is right across the border from Sarnia.  Whenever we'd visit we'd spend far more time on the Canadian side - it was cleaner and the restaurants were better.  Plus, this was in the days where the dollar was far stronger, so we'd eat like kings for 10 bucks!  And doesn't Sarnia sound like a magical place that you can find via a wardrobe, only Canadian?  :D

By the way, this is only about 5% of what I bought on Saturday, but the other items either warrant their own post or they're an integral part of another group of ephemera items I have.  You'll probably be seeing "fallout" from this past Saturday for the next year!  :D

I leave you with more fun photos from Ephemerafest, courtesy of my friend Kristi.  Just more reminders that good times are created with people of like minds, whatever our backgrounds or history.  Ephemera is a tie that binds!  :D

My dear friend Suze and me!

Kristi and me - what a fun day.  :D

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What a FABULOUS Day!

Saturday I had one of those days where it was fun from beginning to end.  How could it not be, when you're a part of Ephemerafest?  :D

For those of you who didn't read last Monday's post about this fun event, Ephemerafest was created by my friend Kim Geiser to be a day-long celebration of all things paper.  Kim also owns Persimmons, which is an art studio/ephemera shop in Manitowoc, and where I had the pleasure of being an instructor for Inspire my Life last summer.

Ephemerafest was a HUGE hit, and more than we bargained for!  Firstly, not only did Kim open her studio to us, but she was shocked when Angelica and Jorge Suarez, of Market Street Stamps, presented her with her complete stamp line!  That's right - Kim now has her own line of acrylic stamps coming out on June 7!
So besides collaging with ephemera all day, she also got to play with stamps created from her own designs.  How many of us can say THAT?  :D  What I love about this is that the whole operation, from start to finish, was created right here in Wisconsin - Market Street Stamps is located in my hometown of Green Bay, and they're manufactured there as well!  :D

While all of this was happening, folks started trickling in.  Two local moms came in with their kids, who had a BLAST making stuff at the art table.  I sat with the moms and talked while I made some ATCs and drank my coffee.  My friend Kristi walked in a little later - she made the trek all the way from Waupun, which is about 75 miles away!  She is relatively new to the collage scene and this was her first "workshop".  A little later, my friend Kim Rae Nugent walked in.  If this name sounds familiar, it's because Kim was the founder of Raevn's Nest, a fantastic art retreat that brought in nationally renowned artists like Michael DeMeng, Jill Berry, Richard Salley and Laurie Mika.  I had the pleasure of attending in 2009 and taking one of Jill's classes.  HEAVEN.  She has also written a book called Interactive Art Workshop: Set your Artwork in Motion.  I'm always inspired when Kim's around!  :D

Little by little, more and more people came; some stayed, some didn't.  Two ladies from Waukesha, Darryl and Marsha, came in around noon and got right to work.  They were on a mission!  :D  Darryl set about collaging a lampshade she had found at Goodwill for $5 and Marsha created a smaller collage.  Marsha had brought some AWESOME trading stamps with her, so I traded some of those for some mosaic tiles I had brought along for the 'free' table.   Here they are - I heart them!  :D

A little later, an entourage arrived from Sussex (near Milwaukee) - it was Vanessa, the Rhinestone Contessa, with her husband and her friend Pam!  Here's a photo, taken by Angelica of our motley crew:

EPHEMERAFEST!  Standing, from L to R: Kristi, Pam, Angelica, Vanessa
the Rhinestone Contessa, and Kim Geiser.  Seated, starting at left: Kim Rae
Nugent, me (notice my closed eyes - GRR), Darryl and Marsha.  Many thanks
to Angelica for use of the photo!  :D

Lastly, my wonderful friends Susan and Nicci came up from Fondy!  I knew they'd love the place and they did!  Both said they had an absolute blast.  It was so nice of them to come up for the afternoon!  :D

Saturday was one of those days that rejuvenated my art spirit.  It's so inspiring to be amongst such lovely ladies (and a few husbands!) and drool over all of Kim's amazing ephemeral treasures.  Did I buy any of it?  You bet your sweet bippy I did!  :D  And I'll show you some of that wonderfulness tomorrow - that's a post in and of itself!  :D

Kim and Vanessa.  What a HOOT!
Thank you again, Kim, for hosting such a wonderful event and inviting me to be a part of it.  It was so much fun, I hope we can do it again!  :D

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A 100K Giveaway!

Welcome back, my dear Ephemeraologists!  For those of you who live in North America, I hope you had a lovely 3-day weekend.  I had a WONDERFUL time at Ephemerafest and will be posting all about it tomorrow!  But first, I have some exciting news:

WE HIT 100,000 VIEWS YESTERDAY!!!  Here's a photo of the auspicious occasion (kind of a boring photo but it makes its point):

I knew it was going to happen soon, but I was still astonished when it did.  When I began this blog on May 6, 2010, I really started writing it for myself.  I love my stash o' goodies and thought that there may be others like me who would enjoy reading about this kind of stuff and would possibly enjoy commiserating about it.  Only in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine hitting one hundred thousand views.

When I look back on the page views from those early months, it makes me laugh.  In September of 2010, for example, I had 158 views for the whole MONTH.  Now I average about 350 a DAY.  I'm proud of that.

Those of you who follow my Facebook page or are friends with me have already heard me say this, but I'm going to say it again because I think it's a good tenet to follow:  It's only taken me six months to go from 40,000 views to 100,000; it took me a year and a half to get from my first view to 40,000.  If you believe in something that you're putting out into the world, keep doing it.  NEVER give up.  :D

Okay!  So who wants to do a GIVEAWAY?  :D  It's a doozy - you'll be entering to win a $25 gift certificate from my dear friend Trina at The Paper Flea Market, a JUMBOT ephemera pack (100 pieces!!) from my wonderful friends Annie and Pete at Silver Crow Creations, and a coupon for $5 off your order of $25 or more from my great friend Sara at Manto Fev!  WOO HOO!

Here's what you have to do:  In the comments below or on Facebook (but not both), let us know what you would like 100,000 of.  Money is too easy - get creative!  It can be anything, tangible or intangible!  Also, and I'm going to highlight this in black, italicize it and capitalize it so that you don't forget - YOU MUST LEAVE YOUR E-MAIL ADDRESS WITH YOUR COMMENT OR I WILL NOT COUNT YOUR ENTRY.  PLEASE LEAVE IT IN THE name(at)domain(dot)com FORMAT SO THAT SPAMMERS CAN'T FIND IT.

Okay!  Let's see those entries!

One last thing, but certainly not the least thing:  Thank you, all of you, for reading this blog.  It means so much to me that you would actually take time out of your busy schedules to pause and read what I have to say.  I hope my posts brighten your day, or at least make you smile.  I love writing it and will continue to do so until I have no more ephemera to discuss (i.e., until blogs no longer exist).  :D  Who knows - maybe I'll even write a book about it someday!

Thank you again - you're all so lovely.  Now, on to 200,000 and then, maybe a MILLION!  It might take me ten years, but wouldn't that be COOL?  :D

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Day to Remember

Note from Mel:  Here's my Memorial Day post from last year.  Enjoy your day but remember our fallen.

Today's post is going to be a short one - I'm taking the day off too!

But as we all have fun today, whether it be at a local parade, at the beach, camping in the woods or spending time with family and friends - let's pause for just a second and remember this guy - or your grandpa, your dad or mom or your brother or sister -  who perished fighting for our freedoms.  THEY are the reason we can enjoy our day off.

Regardless of how you feel about the wars we're involved in, let's remember our fallen troops today.  Even though we may not know any by name, we salute them just the same.

Back with a full post tomorrow - have a SAFE and happy Memorial Day!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Welcome Back to 1965!

I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but I ADORE "Mad Men".  How could I not?  It has everything an Ephemeraologist could ask for!  I think that if I weren't doing my dream job currently, my other dream job would be the prop mistress for the show.  I think I'd be really good at it, too.  :D

Some of my friends and I commiserate about the show.  My friend Julie Wild, who for the third day in a row has proved that people named "Julie" are the most benevolent people on the planet! -  saved this for me and I am eternally grateful:

I had heard that Newsweek was attempting this flashback issue but really wanted to get their advertisers on board to use vintage ads from their respective companies.  The plan worked!  Not only is the cover spectacular, but check out this old Dunkin' Donuts ad:

FABULOUS!  Other companies didn't haul out the oldies, but designed new ads to look old, like this Mercedes one here:

It had me totally fooled until I saw the Web site address - I didn't even notice the 2013 date at the top!  :D

This BOAC ad has a little bit of a history lesson attached, and we're all the better for it.  What a FABULOUS ad!  I'm willing to bet that those of you reading who are around my age (43) first heard of this airline because of the Beatles - in their song "Back in the USSR", the first line is, "Flew in from Miami Beach, BOAC, didn't get to bed last night...."  At least, that's how I knew about it.  :D  As you can see, they inform us that BOAC was a direct predecessor to British Airways.  I don't think I knew that!

Not only are the ads vintage, but Newsweek takes it a bit further - there are fun price comparisons, an article on the politician George Romney (Mitt's dad - didn't know about him, either!), a "Where are they Now" with the "Daisy Girl" from President Johnson's nuclear war ad - the first attack ad ever run.  She was 2 back in 1964; she's 50 now (egads, that's just WRONG.  How can 1964 be that long ago?).  Eleanor Clift, who went on to become a Washington correspondent for Newsweek, interviews the Mad Men cast and discusses how she began almost exactly the same way that Peggy Olsen began - as a secretary at the magazine.  In this post-feminist landscape, it's easy to forget that "we've come a long way, baby!"

Because this "old" magazine is so near to my own age, it's even more fascinating.  Who among us hasn't wondered what life was like when they were brought into the world?  Call me narcissistic, but it also helps to orient myself to the world around me.  If I can get an idea of the cultural zeitgeist of the time, it helps me to understand where people are coming from and why they feel the way they do.

I hope someone does a "Welcome Back to 2012" issue in 47 years.  I'll be 90 then, so I hope I'm around to see it.  :D

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Finds from the Fire!

I have wonderful friends.  Truly, I do!  Not only are they super fun and nice and funny and talented, but they're also generous to a fault.  Case in point:

On Tuesday, I made a trip to Gallery & Frame Shop, which is essentially my home away from home downtown.  :D  I was picking up a collage that had just been framed, when Julie Balson, the owner of G&FS an also a good friend of mine, handed me a little packet.  She said, "I thought you might like these".

WHOA.  MIGHT?  Julie thought I might like these?!?  Look at 'em!  They're amazing!

What's even better about them is that they come with a local back story!

Let's flash back to April 3 of this year.  You may recall a very somber post I wrote about the fire that destroyed a 155 year-old building, which happened to be only 2 doors down from Gallery & Frame Shop. (It turns out that had my beloved Fond du Lac Antique Mall not vacated their premises next door, the entire block would've been destroyed due to the kindling-type qualities of all of the old paper and wood that would've still been in the shop.  I can't believe I'm going to say this, but THANK GOD they were gone!)  Because Julie's husband Brian is a volunteer firefighter (ANOTHER saving grace!), they knew about the fire the second it was called in.  Julie had about 8 volunteers at the shop doing nothing but hauling art (including my pieces!) out of the building.  Due to their quick thinking and awesome help, the building only sustained minor damage.  WHEW!

There is one wall, however, that really needed to be redone due to smoke damage.  Julie and company are in the midst of repairing it, and that's where the ephemera comes in!  As they were cleaning between some of the wooden slats, these little snippets showed themselves.  Julie said she went in there with a tweezers to get it out (spoken like a true archivist and restorer, one of her many jobs as a framer!).

If you're asking yourself why on earth there would be all of this shoe ephemera in a framing shop, well, that's a good question.  You see, before the building housed Gallery & Frame Shop, which has been in that location since 1975, it was Fitzsimmons Shoe Store.

How's this for cool?  According to this Milwaukee Sentinel article from June 18, 1971, Graebel's Shoes bought out Fitzimmons at that time.  The article also states that Fitzsimmons had been in business for 116 years, which counting down from 1971 would mean 1855.  HOLY MOLY!  Wisconsin had only been a state for 7 years at that point!

So we know that the ephemera is from some time between 1855 and 1975.  :D  After doing a little research online, I discovered that the Hush Puppies brand dates back to 1958 (a fun history timeline can be found on the Hush Puppies Web site).  Because of the "hell cat" phrase and the fact that there's no apologies for all of the chemicals used to tan the pigskin, I'm going to say that the snippet with the pair of shoes is one of the earliest ads for Hush Puppies, probably 1958 or '59.  The other one, with the family and the iconic Basset Hound, I'm going to put at around 1967.  It uses that "Frontier"-esque font that was so popular then, and, well, I just have a feeling.  :D

The Brown Shoe Company (as in, Buster Brown) piece was harder to investigate, but just on looks alone I'm going to say mid-Fifties.  Anything later than that and it would be "flashier", I think.  :D

If you're wondering what I'm going to do with them, you're dern tootin' I'm going to use these in a collage somehow, and preferably all together!

Thanks so much again to Julie for saving these for me!  They made my day!  :D

Update:  I heard from Julie Balson that Gallery & Frame Shop was planning to remodel that wall anyway - not because of the fire.  Sorry for the misconception!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Rastus WHO?

Every once in a while, usually with the help of a friend, I am reminded of something from my childhood that takes me back in time so completely, it's almost jarring.

That happened on Friday night.

I was still packing up from our monthly Tour the Town gallery walk (I sold a LOT!) at Cujak's, when in walked two of our friends, Julie and John.  Julie was also part of the Tour and she had already loaded up.  When I was done the four of us headed to Theo's, a popular restaurant downtown that serves dinner later than everyone else.  I love Theo's because you can eat in the bar but it's quiet enough where conversation is actually possible.

To be honest, I cannot remember how Julie and I got to talking about it, but she mentioned Cream of Wheat.  We got to reminiscing about how we had it every day as kids - and that's when I was instantly transported to 1303 Morris Avenue in Ashwaubenon.  I could taste that Cream of Wheat like I had it yesterday (it's been YEARS).  What a lovely experience!  So not only did I relive a fond childhood experience, but Julie told me about Rastus.

You already know who Rastus is - he's the chef on the Cream of Wheat box!  I'll bet you didn't even know he had a name - I sure didn't!  I mean, I vaguely remember from my book Symbols of America the story of the icon, which was originally just a drawing but later became the image of a gentleman named Frank White, who supposedly was paid 5 dollars to pose in a chef's uniform.  According to Wikipedia, Mr. White, who died in 1938, finally has his Cream of Wheat image engraved on his headstone.

In the early days of Cream of Wheat, though, Rastus wasn't the only spokesperson for the cereal.  Some other advertisements feature kids, too.

In fact, check out Julie's AMAZING collection of honest-to-goodness advertisements from super-early magazines.  Truly, it is unbelievable that: a) they even exist, and b) they're in such fabulous shape!  As you can see, her collection is quite comprehensive.

I love this ad - that Rastus is everywhere!  Here is is, comforting a poor kid whose cat beat him to his Cream of Wheat.  I hope the cat got diarrhea.  :D

This ad seems positively radical for the time - black and white kids eating....TOGETHER?  This ad is nearly 100 years old and I can't imagine that this ad sat well with the Southern states.  Cream of Wheat was invented in Minneapolis, so maybe that's how they got away with this.  Personally, I think it's a lovely, sweet ad, especially when you consider the era.

This last ad, which came from Harper's, reiterates how I feel about its product: "The Joy of Childhood".  Indeed!  It's amazing to me how one cereal could bring back such a flood of memories.  And how fun is it that I have friends who share the same fondness?  :D

Here is Julie's collection as it appears on her wall.  What a fascinating conversation piece!  And with that, I have to say a HUGE thank-you to Julie for sharing these photos with me so we could all enjoy them.  I know Julie and I are not alone in our fondness for Cream of Wheat - I know there are many of you out there who feel the same about this product, and icon - let's hear from you!  What's YOUR favorite flavor?  :D

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Wrappers Delight!

How's this for wonderful - I was checking out the haps on Facebook on Saturday morning when I stumbled upon a post from Silver Crow Creations.  This is nothing surprising in and of itself, as Annie and Pete are constantly updating their inventory at the shop.  But Annie had just posted this photo of a bunch of envelopes, sleeves, wrappers, etc. that really caught my eye (click on the photo to see it large, or click the link above):

In case you just want to know the caption, Annie wrote: "Here are just a few of the cool vintage envelopes and bags we got to package up your orders. We get new bags, too, but we think it's fun to use the vintage kitschy stuff when we can. Hope you like them, too."

To which I replied, "Annie, I would BUY those wrappers and envelopes!"  Annie responded with, "I'll send you some, Mel. We sell a product called, "Envelope of Envelopes" - a bunch of vintage envelopes, sleeves, bags, etc. and a few new ones - I took one of those - added all these bags and sent you one - you always write such nice stuff about us on your Ephemeraology page, we thought it would be a nice thank you."

Can you believe that?!  I can!  These are the kind of folks that Annie and Pete are - always thinking of others.  Even though they've both been through the wringer this past year with myriad SERIOUS health problems, they're always thinking of their community, or their customers, or their friends.  I feel very fortunate that I found them online and that we've become such great Internet friends.  :D

Talk about speedy - Pete sent the envelope out on Saturday, and I got it YESTERDAY!  I can't believe how awesome these wrappers and envelopes are - each one is cooler than the next.  Here is just a smattering of the neat items I was so generously bestowed:

I can't wait to use these in collages!  I think that clown image is calling my name....  :D

Thank you again, Annie and Pete, for your unwavering generosity.  I'm so glad I met you through Silver Crow Creations!  :D

Monday, May 21, 2012


Welcome back, everyone!  I hope you enjoyed our little trip down memory lane last week with some "oldie-but-goodie" posts!  It was nice to hear from some of you, my wonderful readers, that you had not seen them before.  That's great!  Maybe I'll do some more "retrospectives" in the future!  :D

I'm glad I'm back "live" today, though, because I really want to talk about this super-fun event that I'm a part of this coming Saturday - Ephemerafest!!

A little background:  perhaps some of you remember me talking about Inspire my Life, the retreat that I was a part of last July at Kim Geiser's place, Persimmons.  Well, she is the same lovely lady who is hosting Ephemerafest!

And what IS Ephemerafest, exactly?  Well, it's just that - a celebration of all things paper and other ephemeral goodies.  As Kim so rightly puts it on this awesome poster she created, "We love junk" (on a side note, I don't think I've ever looked so good!), and we'll have plenty of it!  Kim has one of the best collections of ephemera I've ever seen, and a lot of my stuff I got at Persimmons.  I'll be bringing some of my own stuff, too!  We're also going to be collaging, drawing, painting, swapping ATCs - all kinds of arty stuff with the ephemera.  And let's be honest - one of the best things about having a gathering like this is to meet new people with whom you share interests.  There will be LOTS of that going on!

One of the best things to come of this blog is the new friendships I've formed with people of like minds.  If you live in the New North, Valley, Lakeshore, Madison or Milwaukee areas of Wisconsin, you're relatively close to Manitowoc.  We hope you join us!  As you can see from the poster, it's 11-5 this coming Saturday, May 26, and it's FREE!  Kim's studio, Persimmons, is located at 314 N. 8th Street in Manitowoc and it's super easy to get to from any highway.  Here's the link to the Facebook event - we hope to see you there, even if it's only for an hour or two!  Stop and play or stay all day!  :D

Friday, May 18, 2012

Supermarket Sweep!

Note from Mel:  This week I'll be running some of my favorite posts from the past two years.  Consider it a "retrospective".  Maybe you'll discover some posts you never got to see the first time around!  :D

If you follow my other blog, Much Ado About Stuff, you may already know that I LOVE the supermarket.  I always have!  While some kids may have dreaded the bi-weekly trip to Sure-Way or Copp's or Red Owl (the stores where we shopped when I was a kid), I loved it!  Usually my sister Jen and I would hang out at the magazines or the cheap Japanese toys (like Play Money or pretend doctor kits - I still love those too!), or hide in the wide aisles of the warehouse grocery store.

I remember seeing a grocery store ad on TV right after a storm warning had passed - I'm going to say this was in about 1975.  In my 6 or 7 year-old head, that ad was a sign from God that everything was going to be okay.  Grocery store ads back then usually had a very happy family shopping for everything their little hearts desired.  Happy days ahead!

I also loved looking at the labels (and that's a whole different blog entry!).  I didn't know why, exactly - the colors?  The fonts?  The characters? - but they always held my interest.  I know now that this was the beginning of my obession with ephemera! 

As an adult I began collecting supermarket ephemera, beginning with a Red Owl needlecase (I still have it, but it's tucked away somewhere in a box).  This being the first grocery store I can remember (according to my mom, I called it Owie Owl), there's a pretty deep nostalgic and sentimental vein.  Ususally I'd find a thimble or some other item with a supermarket name on it at estate or rummage sales.  I hardly ever found paper.

But then Ebay happened.

It's just amazing to me how I've managed to buy so many different lots of supermarket items - one was an entire lot of matchbooks with only supermarket logos on them!  I've purchased two separate 1940s toy sets with die-cut cardboard Swift and Nabisco brands (heaven!).  I also have matchbox labels with foreign supermarket names.  Very cool.  And let's not even delve into all the grocery store price tags I own - oh wait!  We already have.  :D

Here is some of the art that I've done with these pieces - as you can see, it truly is a favorite subject of mine. I did an Etsy treasury about it and I even started my own Flickr group, if you're into this sort of thing yourself!  You're not alone!  :D

"Market Day" ATC

"Supermarket History" ATC

"Tuesday Morning, 9:30 a.m."

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Not quite sure.....

Note from Mel:  This week I'll be running some of my favorite posts from the past two years.  Consider it a "retrospective".  Maybe you'll discover some posts you never got to see the first time around!  :D

For today's Ephemeraology post, I'm going to show you one of my favorite types of ephemera I've ever seen and had the pleasure of owning.  It fits so many criteria of what constitutes a wonderful item (for me, anyway):  they're a great example of "durable" ephemera; they include foreign advertising; they're tiny and they're unsusal.

But - what exactly ARE they?

I've seen them described as "European Food Tags" and "Advertising Stick Pins".  Some guesses were that they were placed in the food, used much like fruit stickers today.  Another thought was that these were handed out to customers in grocery stores and markets and they were to be worn as a stick pin.  Either way, I LOVE THESE!

It got me thinking about product labels in general.  Because I've always lived in the States, advertising to me is all about those very American labels:  Tide. Hershey's. Ivory. Cascade. Welch's.  Even though I love foreign ephemera, I forget that there are millions (even billions) of people for whom these brands mean nothing.  They grew up on European labels:  Nestle. Royko. Spar. Cadbury. Franka (?).

If any of you reading have more information about these beauties, I would LOVE to hear about them!  Please drop me a message in the comments - you'll be helping educate us in the process! :D

Regardless of what they were used for, I really enjoy using them in my art!  I take a pliers and snip off the pin part and they're old enough that the glue comes right off with it.  So I'm left wtih just this beaut of a piece of metal!  :D

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Tag, You're it!

Note from Mel:  This week I'll be running some of my favorite posts from the past two years.  Consider it a "retrospective".  Maybe you'll discover some posts you never got to see the first time around!  :D

Here's an ephemeral item from the "Who knew?" file:  clothes tags!

And by "Who knew?", I mean, who knew these were available in bulk? 

Before this wave of collaging with ephemera became popular, I would imagine that these little gems sat, patiently waiting, in junque shops and antique stores all over the US and Europe.  Because really, unless your initials match up with those on the tag, why would you want it?

I'm so glad that these were able to be salvaged (or should I say, "selvedged"?  Get it?  Sorry, bad sewing joke.).  I love the antique linen tags in all of their grunginess.  The store and company tags are fantastic too!  And now, for a confession:  see this Starcy one here?  Um, well, I ripped it off of a tie before giving that tie to Goodwill.  Does that make me a bad person?  :D  I do love the fact that it says "Cravats of Distinction" and proudly displays the Union Jack, but right below it clearly says "Made in the USA". Hysterical!  :D

I wonder, too, how these Schuetze's tags survived.  The quick search that I did on the internet came up with an obituary of the mother of these two men that owned/operated the store; the mother, Sophie Schuetze, died in 1979 at the age of 105.  So if she was born in 1874, her sons were probably born around the turn of the 20th century, which probably would place these tags in maybe the 30s or 40s.  Can you imagine any store taking the time to make their own tags today?  And my guess is that if they placed the tags in the clothes, they probably made or tailored the clothes.  Fascinating.  And now I have a little of that history.  :D

Those tags where I own multiples of course get used in my artwork!  Here are a couple of pieces where those tags totally made the work:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Thank you, come again!

Note from Mel:  This week I'll be running some of my favorite posts from the past two years.  Consider it a "retrospective".  Maybe you'll discover some posts you never got to see the first time around!  :D

No, this isn't a post about Apu Nahasapeemapetilon (but seriously, no one says it better than he does!).  Today I'm talking about the lowly receipt.

Man, these can be annoying, can't they?  In fact, in some places, like fast food restaurants, they ask if you even want it at all.  I always say no.

But maybe I shouldn't!  I'm always shocked when I come across an old store receipt that wasn't thrown out.  Here's a Kohl's receipt from 1984 - my friend Lea found it at her grandma's house and thought of me (is that awesome, or what?). 

I have found old store receipts used as bookmarks, stuck to the backs of things, sandwiched between two items in the house and other odd places you wouldn't normally find tiny pieces of paper. These poor little guys are so forgotten and so mistreated!

Which is why I love collecting them!  It's hard to find them on their own for sale, because really - why would anyone want to buy a receipt unless it's incredibly old or from someone famous?  I count finding a receipt in a pile of ephemera a major score (Manto Fev and Paper Flea Market have both served me well in this arena!).

Every now and then, however, one comes across a find that is so amazing and so unusual, you can scarcely believe it exists.  And here it is.

I nearly plotzed when I saw this little book staring back at me.  It started innocently enough - I typed the words "vintage" and "receipt" in the search box on Etsy.  Lo and behold, this item popped up. I felt like the ephemera gods had placed it there for me and me alone.  I couldn't believe my good fortune and when I saw the price I purchased it on the spot.  It came in the mail last Friday and I've been geeking out about it ever since!

Isn't it AMAZING???  I love everything about it - that it's 75 years old; it's intact; it's foreign; they're receipts; and it's a little book to boot.  I'm going to bet that it's one of the most comprehensive unused receipt collections that exists outside of a museum (there are about 40 full pages of receipts!).  The poor sellers must think I'm insane because I left a rather crazed feedback comment for them (but in their feedback for me, they called me a "lovely customer", so I guess we're good).  :D  To give you a little history about it, let me quote from the placard that's still in the inside front pocket:

Receipts from now-defunct
(or different) department stores
 Through the co-operation of the Domestic Sales Department at Dayton and the Overseas Sales Department at London, England, this pocket-wallet is sent to you as a souvenir of the International Sales Contest, May-June, 1936.  NCR men from all over the world have contributed to the making of this wallet.  In it, you will find sample receipts of some of our most prominent users in the principal countries of the globe.  We trust you will find it interesting and useful in your selling (note from Mel: this is from NCR, or National Cash Register.  Interesting indeed!!!).  The material was assembled and the wallet prepared by the headquarters' staff of our Overseas Sales Department at London. - London, England, May-June, 1936

I don't know if I can use them just yet; these may have to stay in my "we'll see" collection.  But I have used receipts all the time in my artwork!  They are sooo versatile!