Captain Tick Mouse: World War I
|Why It's Interesting|
President Obama recently attended the funeral of the last American veteran of World War I. Long before this, however, that War, though once called The Great War, was all but forgotten, as foreign to students as the War of the Spanish Succession. As the centennial of its outbreak approaches, I am planning an exhibition of ephemera from 1914-19 relating to the War. My big question now is whether to schedule it for 1914, the year associated with the outbreak, or 1917, when the U. S. entered the War. American ephemera from 1914 to 1916 show only occasional signs of the War, such as noting how the supply of certain materials or products had been cut off. One item, posted elsewhere on this website, shows how Americans often favored Germany right up until the US entered the War.
This booklet is one of several adventures of Captain Tick-Mouse issued by the Elgin Watch Company. It came with poster stamps on patriotic themes that children pasted into appropriate spaces. There are a number of small line drawings, such as sliding down a moonbeam; father time leaning on his scythe; and planes flying around the Statue of Liberty.
This website seeks to encourage researchers and collectors to discover and study obscure ephemera that document American culture and life. Worldcat reveals that most of the items that I post cannot be found in more than a few research libraries–often none at all. Alternately, research libraries do not bother to catalog ephemeral publications like these. I believe, however, that because these were distributed free, or at nominal cost, to consumers, they were the publications most likely to make their way into homes and be read by large numbers of Americans.
I acquire pre-1960 examples of the kinds of publications that prove so useful when scholars study 19th-Century America. The limited competition that I encounter for them suggests that libraries, which could easily outbid me, have little interest in post-Civil War and 20th-century ephemeral publications in general.
I try to anticipate what materials future historians will find useful. Being an historian first and a collector second, I organized this website to encourage others to do this too—even if this means new competition for me. I am aware that I could be wrong in prizing particular ephemera or even whole classes of ephemera. I may even be wrong to encourage scholars to study obscure ephemeral publications; these may be obscure for good reason.
Ephemerastudies.org will permit me to share with others the information and imagery that I am acquiring, and to benefit from the knowledge, intelligence and experience of other scholars and collectors. Please contact me with your impressions of the site.