Ephemera - General

In the collecting world, ephemera refer to items that were only meant to be used for a short time. Ephemera collectors primarily collect paper ephemera, such as letters, tickets, stereopticon cards, labels, and greeting cards.

Collectable ephemera may have colorful graphics in certain vintage styles, depicting scenes of the culture or fashion of a particular era. Items may also document historical events. For example, letters written in the '20s from Germans to their relatives in the United States often refer to the poor economy and the brown-shirted socialists who were trying to make things better.

Ephemera items jump in value if they include an autograph or signature from a famous person. In 2014, an original autographed manuscript of Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" sold at auction for $2,045,000. A letter from United States President Ronald Reagan to Mayor of New York Edward Koch sold for $3,750 in 2013.


Quick Facts

  • An unusual but popular category of ephemera is airline sick bags. Collectors seek out these items for the airline logos and interesting graphics
  • Many ephemera collections have been donated to libraries all over the world and can be viewed by appointment in the library archives. The Ephemera Society of America has compiled a list of links to online images of many of these collections that anyone can view
  • The highest price ever paid for a letter at auction was $6 million in 2013. The letter was written by Francis Crick, one of the co-discoverers of the nature of DNA, to his son Michael, explaining the "secret of life"

Recommended Items at Auction

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Hopalong Cassidy binoculars, flashlight & bank
Oct 20, 4:00 PM EDT
Hopalong Cassidy binoculars, flashlight & bank
by Chupp Auctions & Real Estate, LLC
Est: $25- $200
$704 Bids
Hopalong Cassidy items
Oct 20, 4:00 PM EDT
Hopalong Cassidy items
by Chupp Auctions & Real Estate, LLC
Est: $25- $200
$201 Bid
Huge Lot of Ex Libris Ephemera
Oct 21, 11:00 AM EDT
Huge Lot of Ex Libris Ephemera
by Bodnar's Auction Sales
Est: $100- $300
$101 Bid
Group of Early Ephemera
Oct 23, 11:00 AM EDT
Group of Early Ephemera
by Gulfcoast Coin and Jewelry
Est: $150- $175
$251 Bid
LARGE LOT OF RAILROAD EPHEMERA
Oct 30, 10:00 AM EDT
LARGE LOT OF RAILROAD EPHEMERA
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $100- $200
$301 Bid
Daredevil Ephemera
Nov 13, 10:00 AM EST
Daredevil Ephemera
by Copake Auction Inc.
Est: $50- $75
$201 Bid
Bicycle Ephemera Lot
Nov 13, 10:00 AM EST
Bicycle Ephemera Lot
by Copake Auction Inc.
Est: $50- $75
$201 Bid
Leary Castalia Foundation Ephemera
Oct 23, 11:00 AM EDT
Leary Castalia Foundation Ephemera
by Second Story Books
Est: $1,000- $1,500
$7500 Bids
Tarkington | The Man from Home (Signed), Ephemera
Oct 23, 11:00 AM EDT
Tarkington | The Man from Home (Signed), Ephemera
by Second Story Books
Est: $600- $750
$3000 Bids
50 Vol. ANNUAL REPORT Auditor of State to OHIO Governor 1861 ?Çô 1924
Oct 23, 11:00 AM EDT
50 Vol. ANNUAL REPORT Auditor of State to OHIO Governor 1861 ?Çô 1924
by Dana J. Tharp Auctions
Est: $250- $400
$1500 Bids
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Assorted Sports Ephemera
Oct 24, 11:30 AM EDT
Assorted Sports Ephemera
by Oakwood Auctions
Est: $40- $50
$200 Bids
LARGE LOT OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN EPHEMERA
Oct 30, 10:00 AM EDT
LARGE LOT OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN EPHEMERA
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $100- $200
$300 Bids
ABRAHAM LINCOLN EPHEMERA
Oct 30, 10:00 AM EDT
ABRAHAM LINCOLN EPHEMERA
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $100- $200
$300 Bids
LARGE FRAMED 48" BY 48" VINTAGE FIRE EPHEMERA
Oct 30, 10:00 AM EDT
LARGE FRAMED 48" BY 48" VINTAGE FIRE EPHEMERA
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $100- $200
$300 Bids
4 piece Fisher Co. ephemera group dated 1965
Oct 17, 11:30 PM EDT
4 piece Fisher Co. ephemera group dated 1965
by Baker's Antiques and Auctions
Est: $40- $45
$250 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Ephemera - General


Karamitsos

Karamitsos

Milestone Auctions

Milestone Auctions

Copake Auction Inc.

Copake Auction Inc.

Hindman

Hindman