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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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Group of Assorted Ephemera
Apr 20, 9:00 AM CDT
Group of Assorted Ephemera
by Matthew Bullock Auctioneers
Est: $30- $300
$253 Bids
COUTTS & COMPANY BANK CHEQUE FOR THE AMOUNT OF 14£ 12S AND 6P, PAYABLE TO "WAGES".
Apr 26, 1:00 PM CEST
COUTTS & COMPANY BANK CHEQUE FOR THE AMOUNT OF 14£ 12S AND 6P, PAYABLE TO "WAGES".
by Arenberg Auctions
Est: €450- €600
€2402 Bids
Group of Assorted Victorian Tradecards, Diecuts, and related Ephemera
Apr 27, 9:00 AM CDT
Group of Assorted Victorian Tradecards, Diecuts, and related Ephemera
by Matthew Bullock Auctioneers
Est: $30- $300
$202 Bids
Group of Assorted Victorian Tradecards and related Ephemera
Apr 27, 9:00 AM CDT
Group of Assorted Victorian Tradecards and related Ephemera
by Matthew Bullock Auctioneers
Est: $30- $300
$302 Bids
COLLECTION OF EPHEMERA CIRCA 19TH & 20TH CENTURY.
Apr 25, 11:00 AM EDT
COLLECTION OF EPHEMERA CIRCA 19TH & 20TH CENTURY.
by Kamelot Auctions
Est: $50- $100
$252 Bids
Binder of Assorted Vintage Ephemera
Apr 27, 9:00 AM CDT
Binder of Assorted Vintage Ephemera
by Matthew Bullock Auctioneers
Est: $30- $300
$202 Bids
Group of 14 Railroad Ephemera
Apr 27, 9:00 AM CDT
Group of 14 Railroad Ephemera
by Matthew Bullock Auctioneers
Est: $30- $300
$151 Bid
Antique Rare Scarce Ephemera Tradecard
Apr 25, 3:00 PM EDT
Antique Rare Scarce Ephemera Tradecard
by Artelisted
Est: $30- $50
$101 Bid
Group of 10 Assorted Ephemera
Apr 27, 9:00 AM CDT
Group of 10 Assorted Ephemera
by Matthew Bullock Auctioneers
Est: $30- $300
$151 Bid
AUSTRALIAN BANKING 1949
Apr 21, 12:00 PM AEST
AUSTRALIAN BANKING 1949
by Sydney Rare Book Auctions
Est: AUD100- AUD150
AUD501 Bid
Group of Assorted Ephemera
Apr 27, 9:00 AM CDT
Group of Assorted Ephemera
by Matthew Bullock Auctioneers
Est: $30- $300
$151 Bid
EPHEMERA BOX
Apr 21, 12:00 PM AEST
EPHEMERA BOX
by Sydney Rare Book Auctions
Est: AUD100- AUD150
AUD501 Bid
NYC Police Commissioner Douglas Imrie McKay Ephemera, Personal Items, Douglas MacArthur, JFK Letters
Apr 28, 3:00 PM PDT
NYC Police Commissioner Douglas Imrie McKay Ephemera, Personal Items, Douglas MacArthur, JFK Letters
by Clark's Auction Company
Est: $600- $800
$801 Bid
EPHEMERA
Apr 21, 12:00 PM AEST
EPHEMERA
by Sydney Rare Book Auctions
Est: AUD100- AUD200
AUD501 Bid
3rd & 4th Gene Convention Totes & Ephemera
Apr 23, 6:00 PM EDT
3rd & 4th Gene Convention Totes & Ephemera
by Apple Tree Auction Center
Est: $0- $0
$51 Bid
Binder of Assorted Ephemera Antique Invoice Letterheads and More
Apr 27, 9:00 AM CDT
Binder of Assorted Ephemera Antique Invoice Letterheads and More
by Matthew Bullock Auctioneers
Est: $30- $300
$151 Bid
FRAMED GROUP OF PENNSYLVANIA STONEWARE-RELATED EPHEMERA.
May 04, 11:00 AM EDT
FRAMED GROUP OF PENNSYLVANIA STONEWARE-RELATED EPHEMERA.
by Amelia Jeffers
Est: $300- $600
$101 Bid
Binder of Assorted Vintage Ephemera
Apr 27, 9:00 AM CDT
Binder of Assorted Vintage Ephemera
by Matthew Bullock Auctioneers
Est: $30- $300
$151 Bid
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DANSK ANDELS- OG FOLKEBANK
Apr 27, 9:30 AM CEST
DANSK ANDELS- OG FOLKEBANK
by Boone Shares - The Scripophily Center
Est: €70- €140
€700 Bids
Meisterbrief Schlosser 'Johann Gottfried Müller', Kurfürstliche Residenz Mannheim, 1796
Apr 20, 9:00 AM CEST
Meisterbrief Schlosser 'Johann Gottfried Müller', Kurfürstliche Residenz Mannheim, 1796
by Auktionshaus Schwab
Est: €30- €60
€300 Bids
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LOTERIE EN FAVEUR DES PAUVRES DE LA CHARITE & AUMONE GENERALE DE LYON
Apr 27, 9:30 AM CEST
LOTERIE EN FAVEUR DES PAUVRES DE LA CHARITE & AUMONE GENERALE DE LYON
by Boone Shares - The Scripophily Center
Est: €100- €200
€1000 Bids
GALLERY/ ÉDITION 'SÉLECTION', EPHEMERA:
Apr 26, 2:00 PM CEST
GALLERY/ ÉDITION 'SÉLECTION', EPHEMERA:
by Bernaerts Auctioneers
Est: €100- €200
€600 Bids
Group of 30+ Assorted Ephemera and More with Joliet IL. Items
Apr 20, 9:00 AM CDT
Group of 30+ Assorted Ephemera and More with Joliet IL. Items
by Matthew Bullock Auctioneers
Est: $30- $300
$150 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Ephemera - General


Matthew Bullock Auctioneers

Matthew Bullock Auctioneers

Artelisted

Artelisted

Auktionshaus Schwerin

Auktionshaus Schwerin

Denise Ryan Auction Co.

Denise Ryan Auction Co.