Transportation and Travel Ephemera

Travel and transportation ephemera constitute some of the most popular collectibles among lovers of this interesting hobby. Most travel and transportation ephemera are from the late nineteenth century to the twentieth century, obviously because that is when the world was introduced to the multiplicity of transportation modes we use today.

What Do Travel And Transportation Ephemera Consist Of?

Travel and transport ephemera consist of brochures, stamps, leaflets, safety booklets, rule books, maps, plans, conveyance rules, itineraries for Royal Trains, commemorative publications, advertisement or publicity materials, travel-related catering, advertisements for touring exotic places, and so forth. The list literally goes on and on.

Postage stamp ephemera

Some Of These Ephemera Pieces Tell Of A Different Time

Transportation modes such as air travel, train travel, car travel, and ship travel were viewed quite differently when they first began. For instance, airlines portrayed flights as glamorous experiences that could very well be an end to themselves, thanks to breathtaking aerial views of beautiful places such as cities and sea ports, premium on-flight catering services, and the exclusivity associated with this great mode of travel.

Travel And Transport Ephemera Quite Broad

Many people might not know this, but, travel and transportation ephemera collectibles constitute one of the biggest categories of this craft. In fact, collectibles featuring this popular theme were created even by companies that had little or no connection to the travel or transport industry. For instance, cigarette companies made cigarette cards in the late 19th century featuring popular transportation companies such as the Atlantic Transport Line, or their most famous vessels.

Similarly, you will be surprised to learn that some travel or transport related ephemera are actually postage stamps featuring exotic vacation destinations such as Paris with its iconic Eiffel tower or popular modes of transport such as trains. Other travel ephemera actually have their origin in popular culture. For instance, the license plate from Back To The Future movie franchise “OUTATIME” is one of the most recognizable travel-related ephemera pieces today. The point is, this category of ephemera collectibles is quite broad, which explains why it permeates other popular subcategories.

Travel And Transport Ephemera Collectibles Quite Popular

This ephemera genre even has archives that exists specifically in its honor. As you might expect, such collections are quite vast and diverse. For example, The Forsythe Collection of travel and transport ephemera has in its archives a large amount of collectibles that feature air, road, and water transport from early 20th century to the 21st century.

The collection was started by Robert Forsythe and his wife Fiona and dates back to the early twentieth century. The collectibles are spread across three public repositories. The collection is also one of the most notable ephemera collections in the world today.

The 1981 publication, Ephemera of Travel and Transport, a book by Janice Anderson, is also quite popular. It also serves as evident proof that this ephemera collection subcategory is quite important to the field as a whole.

The Ephemera Pieces Feature Broad Artistic Styles

The artistic styles you will find on travel and transport ephemera are quite varied. While some forms of these ephemera were printed, some were hand-made, while others consisted of the use of photographs. Others even featured a collection of styles, for instance postcards and hand-colored maps.

Car Hire Services A Critical Travel And Transport Subgenre

Believe it or not, motor car hire services began over a century ago, there were advertisements for car hire services for as short a time as half a day or even a day. These publications have become rare valuable ephemera collectibles today. Nevertheless, the car hire services sector continues to be a source of important ephemera pieces, thanks to differentiation that has brought subcategories such as limo services. This elite car hire services is associated with popular occasions such as weddings, prom, important social occasions and first-class road travel, which has made it a treasure trove of ephemera collectibles.

As you can see, travel and transport industry is one of the defining categories in the art of ephemera collection. Not only does it consist of innumerable collectibles, it cuts across other ephemera collection categories. From horse carriages, bicycles, trains, cars, airplanes, ships, exotic destinations, and so on, these ephemera pieces document major milestones in the travel and transportation industry, which make them some of the best ephemera collectibles you can possibly own.

The importance of preserving digital ephemera

When we talk about digital ephemera, it just means the type of ephemera forming in a digital space via means like tweets, emails, text messages, etc. Now, there has, need to preserve this kind of ephemera to give an opportunity to future researchers to gain insight into the digital trends, dialogues, and cultural norms of the current time. It might appear to some that collecting and preserving this sort of information might be easy due to its digital nature, but in reality, the sheer volume of information present makes archiving quite a difficult task. Adam Doster created a thought-provoking piece on this non-tangible asset titled ‘Saving Digital Ephemera’, in which he discussed the need to preserve this data and the potential impact it might have on future studies on the life we lead now. But, Adam is not the first person who thought about the necessity of preservation because, in 2010, the Library of Congress reached out to Twitter and formed an agreement to develop an on-site archive for research.

With Twitter’s current number of users an overwhelming amount of tweets, exceeding more than 200 billion per year, LC’s method of sustaining their records became unfeasible very soon. Other academic libraries have also joined in to contribute in achieving this mammoth of a task by researching on digital ephemera from social media trends and collecting data. An open source tool named Social Feed Manager was developed by George Washington University, in Washington DC, to capture data from social networking sites and use them for academic purposes and archiving for future reference. Due to the success of this project, George Washington Libraries received a grant of $ 24,550 from IMLS (Institute of Museum and Library Services). Software like Social Media Tracker and Collector Toolkit Syracuse (STACKS) were developed by Syracuse University School of Information Studies, to collect and analyze data from social media about the presidential campaign of 2016.

Rachel Bower, who is the director of Internet Scout Research Group, at Wisconsin University, says that preserving digital ephemera is becoming cheaper and is of no concern at the moment. However, accessing this vast collection of digital material can turn out to be a difficult hurdle to overcome. Knowing where to look and where to look for doesn’t help either. She also went on to say that archivists and librarians must also take into account the pace at which technology is evolving and an archived copy of a particular source, say a podcast, must also include the necessary software that can actually play the show at a later date, even if that software becomes obsolete many years from now. A digital archivist involved in digital ephemera preservation, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, stated that organizations like the Society of American Archivists and ALA frequently conduct discussions and workgroups with the aim of finding out the best way to optimize preservation of data without spending finite resources that lead to nothing. So, all the efforts going towards collection and recording of data only says that such data is the key to giving unrestricted access to future analysts and researchers an in-depth look at current trends and demands.

What’s Cool About Ephemera?

Ephemera collection is something that is slowly catching on, and anyone who likes to add some sense of distinction to their identity and personal taste by paying homage to iconic moments in human history, art, or culture, can definitely appreciate some of the most interesting pieces of ephemera in history. There are few things cooler than owning valuable ephemera pieces dating back several decades or centuries ago. To put it simply, ephemera is very cool, and here are some reasons why.

So, What’s Cool About Ephemera?

Some Ephemera Themes Are Plain Cool

First off, ephemera can make you seem really cool and witty by speaking to your sense of humor. Some ephemera pieces have been made popular by timeless witticisms that will certainly put a smile to the face of anyone who lays their eyes on them, and to your credit no less. For instance, Americans have always had whimsical views on rats, which are loved and hated in equal measure for their dual roles as pets and destructive rodents respectively. An ephemera piece featuring a sharply dressed rat, walking on two feet, peering through a pair of glasses while poring over some paraphernalia on rat extermination should certainly give your house an exciting aura that should get your guests chuckling and shaking their heads in bemused disbelief.

Some Ephemera Collectibles Make You Seem Awesome

You can also use ephemera collectibles to make your house more welcoming to visitors, making you an awesome and gracious host in the process. Old airline advertisements featuring pampered travelers being made to feel as comfortable as possible by smiling and bubbly flight attendants at their beck and call to ensure they have a broad selection of delicacies can certainly make you seem interesting, welcoming and quite cool. A classic ephemera collectible proclaiming that “Your Vacation Starts When You Step Aboard” should certainly make any guest feel truly at home in your exciting home.

It Can Make You Really Interesting

Some ephemera items are quite funny, especially because they went over-the-top in their attempt to make a valuable point about a product or service. The “No Loafers Allowed Here” trade card perfectly fits the bill. This awesome and undeniably hilarious ephemera collectible is a Le Page’s Glue Advertisement demonstrating two hefty bewildered policemen, dressed in funny uniforms by today’s standards, finding it impossible to pull a man away from a bench he has stuck himself onto using Le Page’s Glue, and all the while, two kids are laughing in the background.

Another variant of the card shows four cops having an even harder time getting the man who “Used Le Page’s Liquid Glue In The Wrong Place” off the bench as three more rush to the scene to assist, making for an even more hilarious situation. This classic ephemera and its various types will make anybody appreciate the simple, profound, and yet untiring humor it gets across. There is no way you would not seem extremely cool and interesting by owning one of these iconic pieces.

As you can see, the various exciting themes you can hit using ephemera collectibles are inexhaustible. You can explore witty, warm, funny, and even more serious and thought-provoking themes using carefully chosen pieces of ephemera. If you have always wondered how you could be cooler, more interesting, or make yourself seem more awesome and even enviable, ephemera collectibles are certainly worth a shot.


Popular Ephemera

There are literally hundreds of ephemera classes, some of which consist of thousands of ephemera collectibles, and yet, some of these collectible items manage to stand out from the rest as the most popular in the world. Granted, the list of ephemera pieces considered the most popular in the world is quite long. Here, we look at various popular ephemera pieces from around the world.

Popular Ephemera

Brand names make some of the most popular ephemera collectibles in the world today. For instance, Campbell’s Soup can advertisement is one of the most recognizable ephemera pieces in the world. The piece was created in the 20th century, and has been popularized by popular culture such as the Desperate Housewives television show. Other popular brands that have produced some of the most popular ephemera collectibles include Coca-Cola and Harley-Davidson

Baseball cards are also quite popular ephemera collectibles, especially due to their rarity and the popularity of this game, widely considered America’s favorite pastime. Of all baseball cards out there, the T206 Honus Wagner card is very popular, and also the most valuable ephemera collectible in the category. The card has been featured in shows such as Prison Break. Other popular baseball cards include the Jimmy Foxx 1933 Goudey baseball card and the 1954 Bowman Gum baseball card of Vern Bickford.

Playing cards have also given the world some of its most popular ephemera collectibles, specifically the Joker playing card. For instance, the Imperil Bower, a Joker from 1863 by Samuel Hart, is quite popular, simply for being the first illustrated card.

Magazine advertisements have also been responsible for some very popular ephemera in the world today. For instance, the Got Milk? ads, created to promote consumption of cow’s milk, have become some of the most popular ephemera collectibles in the world today. The advertisement has also been featured heavily in its original form or as parodies in popular media through shows such as Johnny Bravo, and other popular shows and films.

Movie posters have also turned out to be some of the most popular ephemera pieces ever. For instance, the original The Silence of the Lambs poster from 1991 has won accolades for being the best movie poster over the past three decades. The poster for the Attack of the 50 Foot Woman from 1958 is also considered an iconic movie poster and a must-have among lovers of this category of ephemera collectibles. The Bollywood poster for Hunterwali, a 1935 film, is also considered a favorite among collectors of film posters.

Postage stamps, thanks to one of the most popular hobbies in the world – stamp collection – also feature prominently among the most popular ephemera collectibles in the world. A few stamps have won international recognition for the huge sums of money they have commanded in auctions. For instance, The Three-Skilling Yellow, a Swedish stamp, was sold for $2.3 million in 1996. Other popular stamps include U.S’s Inverted Jenny and 1-cent Z grill stamps.

For some reason or another, some ephemera collectibles have managed to command world attention and become popular pieces that every ephemera collector would love to have in their collections. Surprisingly, some of the popular collectibles are less than 30 years old, while others are well over a century old. Popular ephemera collectibles include baseball cards, popular brand name advertisements, postage stamps, and even movie posters.


History of Ephemera Collectibles

Ephemera collectibles consist of postcards, posters, trade cards, greeting cards, bookmarks and so forth. Basically, as the name so clearly suggests, ephemera collectibles are documents that were meant to serve a transitory role. These simple documents and items have been part of human history for quite a while now, with some collectible ephemera collections featuring items created a several centuries ago. Here is a detailed history of collectible ephemera.

History of Collectible Ephemera

Some Ephemera Collectibles Are Several Centuries Old

Some of the most popular ephemera collectibles in the world today date back several centuries ago. For instance, there is an ephemera collectible in the form of a New Year’s card from Germany depicting Christ that was created in the 1470s. There were all forms of ephemera since them, and they include trade cards, catalogs and so forth.

For example, in 1584, history documents one of the earliest uses of bookmarks through a fringed bookmark presented to Queen Elizabeth I. This later turned out to be one of the more popular ephemera pieces currently available today. The 1600s also has various ephemera collectibles that include wills, deeds, and other documents that are held in high regard by ephemera collectors.

Every Century Brought With It Unique Ephemera Pieces

Practically every century has brought with it a special ephemera collectible class. For instance, the 1700s gave us the paper dolls, which were popular in France. This century also marks the period for the most valued newspaper collectibles, which were printed on high quality material that made them survive for many years, were created. Some of these newspaper pieces are still in existence today.

The 1800s gave us postcards and greeting cards, which proved quite popular. Even pieces from the twentieth century continue to be favorites among collectors. The 1900s helped create audio and visual ephemera collectibles, thanks to the invention of the radio and television and the rarity of finding historical footage from the early periods of this form of mass communication technology.

Libraries Have Been Critical In Preserving The Historically-Significant Ephemera Pieces

National and academic libraries have been know to create ephemera collectible collections as a way to document the history of these documents. There are literally thousands of ephemera collectibles held in various archives around the world. Some of these collections contains thousands of ephemera collectibles dating back the Victorian and Edwardian era.

If you have no idea what this means in terms of real calender dates, the Victorian era began in the 18th century, specifically from 1837, and ended in the 19th century in 1901, which is when the nine-year Edwardian era began. The ephemera collectibles from the nineteenth century are mainly greeting cards,although there were also a number of Valentine’s Day card from the Edwardian era.

Notable Changes In Ephemera Collectibles In The 20th Century

The nature of collectible ephemera changed considerably in the 20th century. During this period in history, the breadth of collectible ephemera expanded to include video and audio tapes of historical broadcasts and groundbreaking television advertisements. This class of ephemera collectibles is unique in that earlier audiovisual content was not intended for future use, which means most of this content was either lost or stored poorly, making it very hand to obtain years later.

Recent And Future History Of Ephemera Collectibles

Over time, the list of ephemera items continues to grow, and the history of ephemera collection continues to change. There are currently hundreds of ephemera collectibles categories, and this list continues to grow in length as rare items considered to have profound historical significance are added to the list.

For instance, while at the beginning of the 20th century, when this field is believed to have been officially established, ephemera collectors were more discriminating in what they considered collectible items. However, towards the middle of the century, new collectors were more willing to broaden the category.

It was also at this point that old newspaper pieces and other forms of printed ephemera became part of the genre. Popular collectors have helped define global ephemera collection trends through the new items they add to their collections. Going by this trend, future ephemera collections will most likely include items from the current century that are proving to be passing fads.


Ephemera collectibles have a long history, with some of the known ephemera pieces more than half a millennium old. Generally, there is a historical link to these collectibles, which is why the list of what is considered ephemera expands every couple of years as items from more recent history are considered valuable ephemera collectibles. Although mainly consisting of printed materials such as greeting cards, Valentine Day’s cards, menus and the like, what qualifies as ephemera now includes things like archive audio tapes and video tapes, ephemera pieces that are hardly a century old.