Thursday, September 2, 2010

Ephemera - Huyler's Cocoa

In my last post I mentioned chocolate and cocoa beans, so I'll stay on that subject to make a nice segue into the world of ephemera. I collect ephemera, which Wikipedia defines as, "... transitory written and printed material not intended to be retained or preserved. The word derives from the Greek, meaning things lasting no more than a day." Good examples of ephemera might include concert tickets, cigar bands and menus. The ephemera that I collect is primarily advertising from the late 19th century.

This is a paper die cut of a tin can. It's also known as a trade card. Trade cards were usually distributed by merchandisers at the point of purchase, and they were popular from the 1870s through the mid-1890s. They were little premiums that served both as advertising and as the fodder for Victorian scrapbooks. Because they were lithographed (as opposed to being printed in the modern 4-color process), trade cards were exceptionally bright and colorful. That's because, for example, an orange detail would be an printed with pure orange ink, rather than halftone screens of yellow and red.

I also collect antique tins (now to a lesser extent than I used to), so it was a real thrill to find this Huyler's can and to reunite it with its paper relative. Both the paper die cut and the tin were lithographed.


  1. You've opened my eyes to a new view of 19th Century life. Thanks for posting.

  2. William, thank you for visiting my site and this particular posting. The image on my sidebar with the pointing hand will lead you to more information on 19th century ephemera.

  3. Hi, I was just researching a very old Huyler tin that belonged to my ancestors and found your blog. Mine looks brown. Maybe that's because it's
    dirty or rusty, I don't know. No lid, but it's definitely old. I love old finds. Found a Clabber Girl baking powder can too. Researched that as well. Pretty cool learning about the history of these products. Anyway, just felt compelled to share.

  4. Hi, Linda - I'm glad you felt compelled to share — that's what I'm here for! I was a commercial artist working for ad agencies, so my initial attraction to old tins was their great designs. I've bought and sold a lot of them, and whenever it's appropriate, I try to utilize them in ways that won't hurt them. For example, I keep my stamps in a great old tobacco tin. I'm not familiar with Clabber Girl baking powder, so now you've inspired me to research what you've found.