Posted: Monday, November 2, 2015
The 1880s witnessed an explosion in the production of souvenir cards in the United States. Among the first companies to take advantage of the marketing potential of these collectible cards were tobacco companies such as Allen & Ginter, Duke, and Goodwin, though producers of coffee, chewing gum, and other products also inserted souvenir cards into the packaging of their output.
As printed-ephemera collector Jefferson R. Burdick explained in The American Card Catalogue, published in 1960, collecting souvenir cards became so popular in this decade that tobacco companies issued albums of souvenir cards "intended to replace the individual cards if the smoker so desired, or at least enable him to own the entire collection of designs without the difficulty attendant to obtaining all the individual cards in a set."
Posted: Tuesday, October 20, 2015
A pivotal scene in the 2014 film Million Dollar Arm shows John Hamm's character, sports agent J.B. Bernstein, standing in an office directly in front of a pair of poster-sized photographs of old baseball teams. While the movie follows the factual story of Bernstein and his discovery of Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel—young amateur baseball players from India—the photographs suggest another story steeped in the history of the sport, one that channels the careers of equally ambitious men dedicated to the game.
To some viewers these images would have escaped unnoticed, but their familiarity caught my eye as they are part of the Met's Jefferson R. Burdick Collection of Printed Ephemera—specifically series T200, Baseball Teams, published in 1913 by the Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company to promote their Fatima "Turkish blend" cigarettes. Significant in subject matter, history, and medium, these large black-and-white prints shown in the film display the team roster for the Chicago Cubs (above) and the Boston Red Sox (below).
Posted: Monday, October 5, 2015
The Major League Baseball playoffs begin tomorrow, and for fans everywhere, there is a lot to be excited about. It's the second season, in a manner of speaking, and the ten teams who made the cut now have their eyes set on championship glory. In just a few weeks the World Series will begin, about the same time as the next exhibition of the Jefferson R. Burdick Collection will go on view here at the Met.
Posted: Thursday, September 24, 2015
Today marks the launch of the new section of the Museum's website dedicated to the vast, diverse, and often surprising ephemera collection of Jefferson R. Burdick (1900–1963). The trade and postcards, which make up the bulk of the collection of over three hundred thousand objects, span in time from the 1890s to the last months of Burdick's life. An avid collector, Burdick dedicated his life to amassing, organizing, and cataloguing his collection. In addition to the acclaimed collection of over thirty thousand baseball cards—the most in a public collection outside of the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York—Burdick's collection includes a dizzying array of trade cards that were produced by tobacco, candy, and gum companies, as well as bakeries, clothing shops, and milliners, to name just a few types of the American businesses that adopted the form as a means of advertising their products.
Posted: Tuesday, July 29, 2014
"…how dismal is progress without publicity…individuals love more to bask in the sunshine of popularity than they do to improve in some obscure intellectual shade. Merit is no object, conspicuity all."
—Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie (1900)
The Jefferson R. Burdick Collection of printed ephemera in the Department of Drawings and Prints includes over six thousand "tobacco cards" from the late 1800s that depict actresses of various levels of celebrity. Twenty-seven of these cards—which were inserted in cigarette packs and intended to be collected and traded much like baseball cards—advertise Daisy Murdoch, a mid-level burlesque actress of the 1880s. She constituted what we might call a "one-hit wonder" today; she was recognized by the public almost solely for her role as Cupid in the Bijou Opera Company's traveling production of Orpheus and Eurydice (1883–85). Murdoch's cards present a clear example of the dissemination of imagery and commodification of celebrity during this unique moment in print culture and theater history.
Posted: Monday, June 30, 2014
Architect Josef Hoffman, painter Koloman Moser, and textile industrialist Fritz Waerndorfer founded the Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshop) in 1903 as a cooperative for artists and artisans. The Wiener Werkstätte began publishing postcards in 1907 and continued until the beginning of World War I. The postcards were among the least expensive or luxurious of the Wiener Werkstätte's products, which included furnishings for the homes of Viennese aristocrats. Most of the designs were intended solely for the postcard format, while a few were reproductions of earlier paintings.
Posted: Thursday, April 3, 2014
Published in 1979, the Supersisters trading cards were a playful, informative, and accessible way to spread feminism to younger audiences. The series was inspired by Lois Rich's daughter, an eight-year-old baseball-card collector, who asked why there weren't any pictures of girls on the cards. With a grant from the New York State Education Department, Lois Rich and her sister, Barbara Egerman, contacted five hundred women of achievement and created cards of the first seventy-two to respond.
Posted: Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Brought to you by the Spectrum group, which encourages post-college audiences to experience the Met in new and unexpected ways, this post is the second installment of our new "Spectrum Spotlight" series—bringing you closer to the Met and introducing some of the staff members that make the Museum such a special place. Look for more posts throughout the year, and, of course, please attend Spectrum events!
Posted: Thursday, January 23, 2014
Posted: Friday, December 20, 2013
Since the establishment of the Print Department in 1916 there has been a clear mission to gather all types of printed material ranging from Rembrandt's magnificent and widely collected etchings to the more ephemeral, which includes, among many others things, American and European trade and calling cards, bookplates, illustrated catalogues, and even greeting cards.