Where to buy ephemera Dealer-Member Websites List of dealers with a wide range of printed ephemera offered for sale.
Links to Other Websites
- Centre for Ephemera Studies
The Centre - the first of its kind in the world - is housed in and administered by the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication of the University of Reading.
- The Ephemera Society of America
A non-profit organisation formed in 1980 to encourage the preservation and study of paper ephemera.
- The Ephemera Society of Australia
A long-standing association of individuals bound by their personal and professional passion for collecting ephemera.
- Le Vieux Papier
The first Society devoted to the study of printed and manuscript ephemera founded in France in 1900.
- Printing Historical Society
has individual and institutional members worldwide. Still fully committed to its original aims, the Society fosters interest in the history of printing and encourages both the study and the preservation of printing machinery, records, and equipment of historical value.
The Antiquarian Booksellers' Association
Founded in 1906 the ABA is the oldest professional body of its kind in the world and runs a small but select number of book fairs each year.
The Institute of Conservation(ICON) is the leading organisation devoted solely to the conservation of paper and related materials. Paper conservation is sophisticated and diverse and one of ICONs main objectives is the advancement of the craft and science of paper conservation both within the profession and in terms of public awareness.
The New Baxter Society
was formed in 1983, following a very successful exhibition of Baxter's work at Reading Museum and Art Gallery. The Society's objectives are to further interest in the work of George Baxter, his licensees and nineteenth-century colour printing.
The Writing Equipment Society
For those interested in the collection, conservation, study or use of writing equipment – old and new.
The Crystal Palace Foundation
Specialists in the 1851 Great Exhibition, the Sydenham Crystal Palace and Crystal Palace Park.
The Bewick Society
The aim of the Bewick Society is to promote an interest in the life and work of Thomas Bewick and related subjects, especially with regard to wood-engraving.
The Bookplate Society
An international society of collectors, bibliophiles, artists and others dedicated to promoting bookplate study.
British Records Association
has played a major role in saving records at risk, and organising their distribution to the network of local authority, specialist and business archive repositories across the UK.
Transport Ticket Society
was founded in 1946 in the north-east of England to bring together collectors of transport tickets, principally road (bus and tram) and railway.
Poster Stamp Collectors Club
was formed in 2005 to increase awareness of an important area of ephemera often overlooked, these beautiful stamps, used for product promotion, exhibitions, political and social causes and so forth, are a window into their times, social and historical.
British Matchbox Label and Bookmatch Society
An International Membership Society whose members are interested in matchboxes, matchbox labels, bookmatch covers and all types of match related items from around the globe.
Museums & Libraries
- St Bride Printing Library (UK)
is one of the specialist public reference libraries of the Corporation of London. Its
world-famous collections cover printing and related subjects: paper and binding, graphic design and typography, typefaces and calligraphy, illustration and printmaking, publishing and book-selling, the social and economic aspects of the printing, book, newspaper and magazine trades.
- Museum of London
The largest city museum in the world, telling the fascinating story of London from prehistoric times to the present day.
Musée de l'imprimerie de Lyon
Lyons Museum of Printing is one of Europes most important historical museums in the field of graphic arts and trade. It contains a significant collection of books, old documents, machines and tools from the invention of printing up to the twentieth century and is particularly strong on French sixteenth-century printing. An educational programme is run with frequent exhibitions, including ones on ephemera.
Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising
Featuring over 12,000 original items from the Robert Opie Collection. The history of consumer culture is revealed decade by decade in the “time tunnel”, from Victorian times to the present day. Discover the trends of daily life, the revolution in shopping habits, the groceries, sweets and household goods, the changes in taste and tempo, the advent of motoring, aviation, radio and television, the gradual emancipation of women and the effects of two world wars.
The Womens Library exists to document and explore womens lives in Britain, in the past, now and in the future. It inspires learning and debate and is an international resource for womens history research.
The Chantry Library, Oxford
The Judith Chantry Library and Resource Centre is the only professional conservation library owned and run by a professional body. Named after Judith Chantry (IPC’s long serving Librarian) the Library houses books on subjects such as art history, book binding, book history, collection care, conservation, paper history, printing and reprographics.
- The Caird Library is the largest and most comprehensive reference library of its kind in the world, covering every aspect of maritime history.
Jim Crow Museum
The purpose of the Jim Crow Museum, at Ferris State University, is to educate visitors about race relations in the United States. It has a 4,000-piece collection of racist artifacts gathered, catalogued and donated by Dr. David Pilgrim, professor of Sociology at the University, uses Jim Crow era objects to show that racism was wrong – and is wrong. Many of the artifacts are offensive; and Pilgrim believes that these items must be viewed and understood without sugar coating.
Working Class Movement Library
is a collection of English language books, periodicals, pamphlets, archives and artefacts, concerned with the activities, expression and enquiries of the labour movement, its allies and its enemies, since the late 1700s.
Te Uare Taoka o Hakena - The Hocken Collections
University of Otago, New Zealand collect ephemera relating to the Otago area but also material for all of New Zealand especially with relation to tourism and general elections.
National Library of Australia Printed Ephemera Collection
The National Library has been selectively collecting Australian printed ephemera since the early 1960s as a record of Australian life and social customs, popular culture, national events, and issues of national concern.
Archives & Collections
- London Metropolitan Archives is the archive repository for many London-wide organisations. The archives of the City of London Corporation (COL) and the former Greater London Council (GLC), London County Council (LCC), Middlesex County Council (MCC) and their predecessors are held here. LMA also holds records for many religious, public, business, local authority and other organisations based in London. The dates of items that can be found here range from medieval to the present day, and the collections are constantly expanding.
- The History of Advertising Trust Archive HAT Archive conserves the UK's advertising, marketing/retail, media and public relations heritage and makes it available for study. With over two million items, it is believed to be the largest collection in its field worldwide.
- The John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera is now free to access for everyone in the UK. This world-class collection is a treasure trove of over 65,000 items selected from the John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera, offering unique insights into the changing nature of everyday life in Britain in the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
- Manchester Metropolitan University Special Collections holds amongst its collections the outstanding Laura Seddon collection of Victorian greetings cards as well as the Sir Harry Page collection of albums and scrapbooks.
The National Fairground Archive
is a unique collection of photographic, printed, manuscript and audiovisual material covering all aspects of the culture of travelling showpeople, their organisation as a community, their social history and everyday life; and the artefacts and machinery of fairgrounds.
National Co-operative Archive
is located in central Manchester and is home to a wide array of records relating to the history of the worldwide co-operative movement.
The Huntley & Palmers Collection
is the archive that was formed by the famous Reading biscuit company during its 150 year history and shows the development of the company and the impact it had on Reading and its people.
The Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture
hold an eclectic ephemera collection which belonged to mid-century graphic designer, Charles Hasler (1908 – 1992). The collection is wide ranging and features mid-century ephemera collected for its interesting typography and illustration, together with Victorian examples.
The Hyman Archive
holds the world's largest collection of magazines, spanning the period 1910 to present day. More than 55% of the title publications are not to be found in the British Library.
- Digital.Bodleian Members of the public can now explore the Bodleian Libraries' extraordinary collection of digitized books, manuscripts, maps, art and ephemera through a single website.
- Watch Papers The American Antiquarian Society holds a collection of more than 400 American watch papers ranging in dates from the 1790s to 1910.
- A–Z of ephemera exhibition Based on an exhibition in the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication, University of Reading from 18 September to 8 December 2017.
- American Memory From the Library of Congress, American Memory is a gateway to rich primary source materials relating to the history and culture of the United States. The site offers more than 7 million digital items from more than 100 historical collections.
- The Scrap Album A beautiful site which looks at the albums, greetings cards and ephemera of the Victorian era.
- The Victorian Turkish Bath Victorian Turkish baths: their origin, development, & gradual decline.
- Wellcome Collection Explore humankind and medicine in pictures. The Wellcome Collection is a museum and library exploring health, life and our place in the world.
- Margate Local History Website A wonderfully comprehensive resource compiled by Anthony Lee containing a tremendous wealth of printed ephemera.
- Sheaff:ephemera This collection encompasses 19th century artistic printing, letterpress type pictures, early billheads to examples of elaborate typefaces and bas-relief advertising and covers. If you are interested in ephemera, this website is essential viewing.
- Eugene Rimmel An enchanting page from the National Valentine Collectors Association's website.
- Collage An image database containing 20,000 works from the Guildhall Library and Guildhall Art Gallery London.
The Emergence of Advertising in America: 1850 - 1920
presents over 9,000 images, with database information, relating to the early history of advertising in the United States. The materials, drawn from the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library at Duke University, provide a significant and informative perspective on the early evolution of this most ubiquitous feature of modern American business and culture.
Holy Cards as Objets Trouvés
Over many years, holy cards have been found in returned books from the collection of the Archbishop Ireland Memorial Library (Saint Paul Seminary, University of St Thomas, Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA). View a wide-ranging selection of cards saved by library staff, they are representative of many styles, periods, and uses.
The Glasgow Story
The Glasgow Story tells the story of Glasgow in words and pictures by some of Scotland's best writers, and illustrated with thousands of images from the collections of the city's world-famous libraries, museums and universities. From football to fashions, Auchenshuggle to Yoker, you'll find it all here.
NYPL Digital Collections
The New York Public Library provides access to over 275,000 images digitized from primary sources and printed rarities from its own collections including illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints and photographs, illustrated books, printed ephemera and more.
Historic England: on-line image resource for Englands history
Photographs from the National Monuments Records important collections are presented seamlessly on ViewFinder, allowing users to search across the whole archive at once. The Picture Gallery and Stories contain illustrations of the industrial age, social history (including the Henry W Taunt Collection), architecture and archaeology, dating from the 1840s to the present day.
An opportunity to view playbills in the Local Studies Library collection from a wide range of Leeds Theatres such as The City Varieties, The Grand, The Princess and the Theatre Royal that provides a unique insight into theatre life in Leeds between 1781 and the 1990s.
Spellman Collection: Victorian Sheet Music Covers
The Spellman Collection was donated to Reading University Library by Doreen and Sidney Spellman of London and comprised approximately 1,650 mounted covers, 650 unmounted, and 150 complete with music, making 2,500 items in total. 800 digitised images are available here.
Historic American Sheet Music
The Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library at Duke University holds a significant collection of 19th and early 20th century American sheet music. The Historic American Sheet Music Project provides access to digital images of 3042 pieces from the collection, published in the United States between 1850 and 1920.
The Word on the Street
Discover early news stories and ballads that informed and entertained Scots between 1650 and 1910 as you search or browse The National Library of Scotland’s online collection of nearly 1,800 broadsides.
The Ephemera of John Smith
Examples of ephemeral publications collected by John Smith of Crutherland during his career as bookseller, town councillor, estate owner and citizen of Glasgow from the Glasgow University Library Special Collections Department.
Allan and Fergusons Views in Glasgow
Glasgow University Library’s Special Collections Department also owns Illustrated Letter Paper Comprising a Series of Views in Glasgow, a rare nineteenth-century publication featuring some of the city’s landmark buildings, many of which no longer exist.
Very Ill! 19th Century Medical Caricature Enjoy the many faces of medical caricature in 19th–century England & France in this on-line exhibition from the University of Virginia. Nineteenth-century medicine provided caricaturists with a wealth of material. Artists humorously exaggerated medical conditions and physical characteristics. Bulbous noses, protruding stomachs, and hunched backs were some of the more common features drawn to extraordinary proportions.
e-codices - Virtual Manuscript Library of Switzerland
The purpose of
“e-codices” is to provide access to the medieval codices in Switzerland by creating a virtual library. At the moment, the virtual library contains 380 manuscripts from 16 different libraries and will be continuously updated and extended.
Broadway: The American Musical
This online exhibition, drawn from the holdings of the John Hay Library, is a small taste of the thousands of musical plays that have appeared on the New York stage in the last century and a half. Drawn from the Harris Collection of American Poetry and Plays, the Sheet Music Collection, the Manuscripts Collections, the Starred Book Collection, and the Robert J. Tierney Collection of Entertainment Memorabilia, it includes examples of scores, librettos, sheet music, souvenir albums and playbills.
The Waddesdon Manor Trade Cards
These humble documents, regarded as printed ephemera, which were produced by shop keepers, craftsmen and tradesmen to advertise their shops and wares, give an astonishingly detailed glimpse into the consumer world of the 1700s.
The Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (ncse)
Online edition of 19th century newspapers and periodicals provides a rich digital resource of Victorian politics, philosophy and life as seen through the eyes of contemporary journalists. Free, easily accessible and fully searchable for users based anywhere in the world, the titles range from an early feminist paper to a radical social reformist broadsheet and satirical illustrated weekly.
Online resource from Duke University Libraries. An image database of over 7,000 U.S. and Canadian advertisements covering five product categories - Beauty and Hygiene, Radio, Television, Transportation, and World War II propaganda - dated between 1911 and 1955.
Dying Speeches & Bloody Murders
Online resource from The Harvard Law School Library. Just as programmes are sold at sporting events today, broadsides - styled at the time as "Last Dying Speeches" or "Bloody Murders" - were sold to the audiences that gathered to witness public executions in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain. These ephemeral publications were intended for the middle or lower classes, most sold for a penny or less and published in British towns and cities by printers who specialised in this type of street literature.
The John A. McAllister Collection: Comic Valentines
The Library Company of Philadelphia have digitized over 650 Comic Valentines that satirize every conceivable ethnic, occupational, and personality type.
Database of Mid-Victorian wood-engraved Illustration
contains records and images of 868 literary illustrations that were published in or around 1862, providing bibliographical and iconographical details, as well as the ability for users to view images at exceptionally high quality.
The ultimate image bank with posters, photos and prints from the collection of Jaap Best (1912-2002), the Dutch circus-lover, which now forms the Netherlands’ largest collection of circus memorabilia.
Kensitas Woven Silk Flowers
A web site by a passionate collector of these exquisite silk cards given away free in the 1930s with Kensitas cigarettes.
Martin Weselby's collection of nearly 600 UK firework advertisements from newspapers, magazines and comics.
The Firework Museum
Many examples of firework posters, firework labels, sparkler packets and printed ephemera.
- Paper graphic design from the 1920s - 1970s
David Levine shares the best items from his collection - mostly travel related.
Tom Topol's excellent website is always up-to-date with the latest news on passports and their history.
- Museum of Music History
An exciting new project which uses visual images and objects to explore the countless ways
in which mankind has communicated through sound.
- P&O Heritage
Browse galleries of printed ephemera including posters that relate to the history of P&O and the many shipping lines included in their history.
- TuckDB Ephemera A free online database listing antique ephemera published by Raphael Tuck & Sons.
- Mike Henbrey’s Vinegar Valentines A wonderful display of Victorian comic valentines.
- The Trade Cards of Old London Another fine display of ephemera from the Spitalfields Life website.
- Sudbury Ephemera Archive Collecting Sudbury's memories before they are lost.
- Playbills: the 'faded love-letter' to early modern theatre An article based on a fascinating 18th century playbill found in York Minster Library.