Category Archives: Ephemera

Playing with Fire

“Fire engines gave us the same thrill that children have felt in all times at the sight of running horses accompanied by the clanging of bells.” –Samuel Canby Rumford  Samuel Canby Rumford grew up in a house on the corner … Continue reading

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The Adventures of Archibald Hamilton Rowan: Textile Manufacturer on the Banks of the Brandywine

In the summer of 1795, exiled Irishman Archibald Hamilton Rowan arrived in Philadelphia, his journey to America quite an extraordinary one. Born in 1751 into an Irish family of privilege, he was raised by his wealthy English grandfather and educated … Continue reading

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French Fashions on Paper: Advertising the Coiffure in 18th-Century Paris

Among the numerous items in the library’s Maxine Waldron Collection of Children’s Books and Paper Toys is a gorgeously hand-painted French set of paper cards from the late 1780s not intended as a children’s plaything but rather as an advertisement … Continue reading

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Letters from Jackie: A Personal Piece of Camelot

Last week dozens of handwritten letters by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis sold at auction in Palm Beach, Florida, for a total of $28,400. The letters were personal correspondence and thank you notes by the former First Lady to her interior designer, … Continue reading

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Watercolor Drawings from Paris

In the early 1800s, an artist or a group of artists created at least four volumes of watercolor catalogues depicting personal goods that were for sale in Paris. Two of the volumes, labeled numbers one and four on their spines, … Continue reading

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The Fowler Family’s Field of Phrenology

On a March day in 1848, James Terry, grandson of famous clockmaker Eli Terry, stepped into Orson and Lorenzo Fowler’s New York City office to have his head examined. He walked away, $3 poorer, armed with a detailed analysis describing … Continue reading

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The Grand Panorama of London

Much of the joy of working at the Winterthur Library lies within the potential for discovering “new” gems in the collection with every trip to the rare book stacks. Just such a thing happened in January of this year as … Continue reading

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The Ephemera of Love

Valentine’s Day – a day celebrating love, a thriving industry with billions of dollars spent on cards, flowers, jewelry, candy, dinners, and getaways, with murky origins in the third century execution of a Roman priest. The history of this custom … Continue reading

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Fashion as Art

Our forthcoming original exhibition Costumes of Downton Abbey, opening March 1, gives Winterthur a unique opportunity to shine a light on the library’s collection of 20th century magazines, including the rare La Gazette du Bon Ton. Founded in Paris in … Continue reading

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John Hancock Writes His Wife

Most of us know John Hancock (1737–93) as the first signer of the Declaration of Independence. His large, bold signature sent a clear message to the British people that he hoped their days as rulers of the American colonies would … Continue reading

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