Sports Posters in 1923
|Why It's Interesting|
These are samples of window display cards reproduced in a 1923 catalog of posters issued by Superior Color Press, Toledo, OH. The entire catalog is printed in cyano blue but the posters came in orange and black, though other colors were available for special orders. Window cards were usually 14 by 22 inches. A larger size of window card was 22 by 28. One could get smaller ones measuring 11 by 14. Posters ranged in size from 21 by 28 inches to types called 8-sheets, measuring 7 feet by 9 feet. This giant poster, lettered, cost between $1.80 each for 10 and 75 cents each for orders of 100. The posters shown here were almost exclusively for sporting events–a few promoted drama clubs. The sports were primarily football and basketball. I chose to show this particular group of posters because it includes Johns Hopkins, my undergraduate school.
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.