What lasts?

Category: What on Earth!?

Too hot to do work in most of the house today. Our windows will be (hopefully!) fixed soon and we will have some ventilation. Until then, we hunker down next to the A/C and keep taking inventory.

I have been nervous about handling the historical paper. The house's dirt and dust have discouraged me...I don't want to ruin anything. Even the word for some of these paper items--ephemera--means "something that doesn't last, something that is transitory in time." But I don't want to be responsible for rushing it to an earlier demise! On the other hand, I've wanted to look around for ideas for Rubber Trouble at Slumberland.

Vintage advertising is fun for this. Art Deco, Art Nouveau...a lot of designs might look good as stamps! (Wendi would know more about what makes a good candidate...) A short stack of Harper's Bazaar magazines from the 20's and 30's looked like a good place to start.

-- Adopted

Sorry about the flash on the photo. Taking pictures in the wee hours of the night doesn't leave you with many options.

I noticed that these early covers are attributed to an artist...in fact, even the covers of travel brochures name the artist. Erte, Benigni and Barbier, all of whom are famous for Art Deco fashion drawings.

Here are some other very pretty covers. I'm looking at these in a new light now...as frame-worthy art.

-- All Adopted

And then, there is the, um, not so "art"...like this decoupage.

Or this "fake painting" on cardboard that, I think, used to be in my orthodontist's office in the 1970's.

< Adopted

The most poignant moment of the day, though, came when I went to look up "Mount Lowe, California" where all of these postcards came from:

I found out that Mount Lowe's Lodge and other attractions have been in ruins since the 1930's.

Which makes me wonder. If ephemera describes "something that is transitory in time", what if the paper outlasts...us?

Sorry for the melancholy sentiment. It's late and the windchime next door is blowing and I need to go to bed...

Looking for More?

House in Progress Search for more on 'vintage ephemra' on this site.
Houseblogs.net Search for 'vintage ephemra' on on other houseblogs like this one.
Google Search for 'vintage ephemra' on Google.
Amazon.com Search for 'vintage ephemra' on Amazon.com.


Actually, the idea that paper items -- books, periodicals, newspapers -- will burst into flames when exposed to sunlight, Dracula-style -- turns out to be bunk. In Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper, Nicholson Baker reveals that much of the push to discard physical copies in favor of microfilm or digital copies is driven by microfilm and scanner companies and libraries that don't have adequate capital to build larger libraries to store material. Sadly, the end result of this "preservation drive" is the loss of huge amounts of material. In a 40 year old newspaper, aren't the ads and cartoons just as interesting as most of the text? Too bad -- they're gone!

In fact, it's commonplace to find readable 20 year old newspapers unearthed at the dump.

In short: don't worry about it. Dusty? Wipe them with a lightly damp rag. The only thing I would avoid is wiping them with something acidic like Windex (which won't destroy them now, but might make them show more wear in 20 years). Put them in a nice cozy cardboard filebox and they'll be fine.

Thank you for remembering me. :) Yes, I agree, the paper will probably be fine; just be careful with some of the items that might be tearing at the spines.

As far as what is good for stamps, all kinds of interesting vintage line art is good. You would be amazed, really. I have a pile of old magazines and books that I get images from now, and I'm always looking for more. I scan them, and then they can go on to another life somewhere else. I don't harm them because old ephemera are treasures. :) So anything that looks neat, especially if it is pre-1923, can help me. Frequently the ads in old publications are the most fruitful part for me.

To follow up on the above re: durability of paper items...I concur, as a longtime collector of paper stuff (including, with a nod to Mr. Nicholson Baker, bound newspapers...but that's another story). They'll last longer than you might think. If you want super-archival acid-free type storage, try www.gaylord.com.

To me, the real joy of them is the reading--the context and the feel you get for the times from the whole thing, not just the cover.

Or you could sell them at the garage sale....I could give them a very good home..

That is so good to know. I packed them away carefully to protect them after taking many pictures. I think the paper items are something that I am going to have to go through this winter and sell online somehow. Not through eBay, though. They are too delicate for an estate sale.

The way it is shaping up, it looks like "breakables" (i.e. things that are hard to ship), heavy and large items will be in the estate sale in a more protected area. "Lower priced items" and a few pieces of furniture will be in there too. As well as pieces of the house that are vintage but were added after the dates we're interested in. Such as fixtures from the late 40's and early 50's from one of the bathrooms, etc. Books, except for fragile and rare, will be sold at E-Sale. Others will be online. Smaller vanity items will be online.

Unfortunately, items that haven't been researched or identified will not be sold yet. (Such as the de Vegh vase...still trying to track down information about the artist.)

Even with all of that sorting out, we will have a packed garage and yard. Definitely some interesting pottery, porcelain and glass. And some fabulous books. I would LOVE to keep all of the books, but we've catalogued over 1000+...so that isn't an option. Sigh.

Take good care!


Email this Entry to a Friend

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):

a neighborhood of home improvement blogs

Cabinet Refacing
Cabinet Refacing:
Face Your Kitchen | Your Guide to Kitchen Cabinet Refacing