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Uncommonly Good Books Found Here: Ephemera

Strange and Interesting ephemera sold on

Ephemera, in the world of collectible goods, is defined as a paper item that was made to be used and discarded.  This could include postcards, tickets, shop catalogs, cigarette cards, sheet music, letters, and magazines.

Here are some examples of sometimes neat, sometimes strange, but ultimately collectible ephemera that have been sold so far in 2011 from booksellers:




Confederate War Etchings by Adelbert J Volck

This listing was for an 1880-1890 reissue of the scarce 1862 edition, in fact, this is one of only 100 copies. This small folio (Images: 8 x 5 to 8 x11) is comprised of 29 etchings printed on India Paper mounted to thick card stock, and kept in a quarter burgundy morocco slipcase and chemise.

Volck was a German immigrant who became active as a Confederate cartoonist. “During the war, in an effort to combat the activities of Thomas Nast … Volck made a series of caricatures favorable to the South under the name of ‘V. Blada’ … the most important and best known collection of his work is Confederate War Etchings, which contains twenty-nine plates … ” – DAB. “The original issue [of thirty plates] was probably suppressed by the author as the caricatures bordered on treason. The re-issued form was probably made up of the suppressed sheets or printed from the original copper-plates.” – Howes

Sold by: James Cummins Bookseller



Masonry dwelling for Mr. Martin, Buffalo, New York. Adjoining the Martin residence. 1904. Pl. XXVI by Frank Lloyd Wright

This listing was from Berlin : Ernst Wasmuth, 1910…an original lithograph on 4-ply, wove, grey paper. 15.94 x 25.25″ (40.5 x 64 cm). Artist’s embossed stamp lower (left) center. Archival mat and backing.

Provenance: The Prairie Avenue Bookshop, Chicago. The Bookshop recently closed and Wittenborn Art Books has taken over the distribution of the Wasmuth plates.  Many of these were acquired from Wright’s apprentices and bear the marginal water stains from the famous fire of 1914, which destroyed the architect’s home and studio and most of the edition. Text and title in German/Deutsch. Finely toned and exhibits marginal staining and minor edge wear; else NF. Buffalo, NY. Dover (XXVI); Storrer (1993) 100; Hitchcock (1942) pl. 100-104

Sold by: Alan Wofsy Fine Arts



I Wish I Was In Dixie’s Land [Sheet Music] by Daniel D. Emmet

New York: Firth, Pond & Co., 1860. Very nice first edition of Emmett’s classic, published after a pirated version was printed in New Orleans. “Written and Composed expressly for Bryant’s Minstrels.”

Last page shows Firth & Pond advertisement No. 1, 1860; Long considered the first authorized printing, however, some suggest the first printing had no advertisements on the rear cover (see Fuld, Book of World Famous Music, 2000) or that the copyright date on the front cover was mistakenly printed as 1858 (see Christie’s Sale 2001, 12 Jan 08). Previously bound so rough edges and trimmed. Generally clean pages with some finger smudges. No rips or tears. . First Edition. Sheet Music. Very Good.

Sold by: Read ‘Em Again Books



Autograph letter signed “E. Tamberlick” by Enrico Tamberlick

2-1/4 pp. on conjugate leaves. Pietroburgo [St. Petersburg], November 16, 1851. To [?]Negnetti. In Italian, with translation. Relative to an order of cigars for “Mr. Mario” [possibly the noted Italian tenor Giovanni Matteo Mario (1810-1883)], placed with Negnetti by Tamberlick’s brother Achille in London. “Since Mario entrusted D’Enea with dealing with this matter, please give him the cigars and settle the matter, and then be so kind as to write to either me or Salvatori and reassure him about it, since he is the only one who is directly involved with Mr. Mario.” Slightly foxed, soiled and creased; creased at folds; minor paper loss to two blank corners.

Tamberlik was one of the most famous tenors of the 19th century. He made his début in Naples in 1840 and in London in 1850, singing at Covent Garden regularly until 1864, including roles as the first Manrico, Benvenuto Cellini and Faust in London; he created the role of Alvaro in La Forza del Destino at its world premiere in St. Petersburg in 1862. ”His robust voice, with its ringing top notes… was marked by a fast vibrato, but his musicianship and handsome, exciting stage presence made him a superb interpreter of heroic roles.” Elizabeth Forbes in Grove online

Sold by: J & J Lubrano Music Antiquarians LLC



Acrylic Paperweight enclosing signed photograph of Richard and Pat Nixon and two of their Grandchildren, by Richard M. Nixon

From 1979, this is a three-quarter-inch thick block of clear acrylic atop a one-eighth-inch base of black acrylic. SIGNED AND INSCRIBED BY NIXON on a 3 x 1″ paper label affixed to the bottom surface of the paperweight. In mint condition. November 25, 1979. 140 x 114 mm. (5 1/2 x 4 1/2″). A photograph (perhaps for use as a holiday card?) with five oval images, one each of President and Mrs. Nixon and their grandchildren Jennie Elizabeth Eisenhower and Christopher Nixon Cox (each approximately 35 x 25 mm.) arranged on the right side of the white background, with a larger oval (approximately 80 x 35 mm.) on the left showing the bougainvillea-covered pillar at the entrance to the Nixon’s California home, La Casa Pacifica. Below are the (printed?) signatures of Richard and Pat Nixon and the date November 25, 1979. A typed label on the bottom of the paperweight gives the the names and birth dates of the Nixon grandchildren. This is a very appealing piece of political memorabilia from the post-Watergate era. Although we do not know the provenance of this memento, it obviously belonged to a loyal supporter of the ex-president. Nixon has autographed the affixed label and, even though his fight had already been lost, has added the encouragement Fight on!

Sold by:  Phillip J. Pirages Fine Books and Medieval Manuscripts

To find other strange and amazing collectibles, visit the general Ephemera section or the Rare Book Room Ephemera category on!

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