accidental collection: vintage ephemera

My collection of vintage papers started accidentally about four years ago. It was when my husband and I bought our first home together after having the twins. The previous owner was a single eighty some year old retired Boeing employee, had a problem getting rid of stuff it seemed like when we toured his house and saw his basement was packed with boxes of stuff. Sort of looked like my house now except he didn’t do Ebay or Etsy, I didn’t think.

Anyway, it was one of those short sale deals and the asking price was unbelievably below the market for the location and the built of the house. I fell in love with it the moment I saw it. It’s a two-story plantation style home in the heart of the city with a big wooded backyard and lots of overgrown trees.

So long story short, we bought the house with green shaggy carpet reeked in smoke, wooden wall paneling, craziest looking kitchen tiles I’ve ever seen and a garage with a mountain high of boxed papers and junks he left for his agent to discard but we ended up with it. Many boxes contained Newsweek Magazine subscription from the 50s to the late 80s was left in the garage, lots of magazines about rifles, postcards, photos, correspondence and love letters, vintage newspapers, all kinds of airline manuals and a few Playboy magazines were thrown in for good measure.

My husband and I spent a good couple of nights just going through the boxes. I remember having different emotions as I was sorting through papers and reading some of the postcards and letters. It felt like reading someone’s diary, putting all the puzzles together and watching his past life being played in a movie.

Mostly, I felt admiration for the seemingly full life he lived in his younger years, the many countries he traveled, the beautiful people he met evident on the photos and snapshots, the caring family and friends who had written him letters and post cards. Then I also felt sadness. Sadness of the time that ran out. Sadness that with all the busyness of his past life, he was alone at the end. I really didn’t know what was his story, except that his agent told us he didn’t have family around and he will be renting an apartment in a small town nearby once the papers closed and he needed help to clean the house. We kept our 3% agent fee for ourselves (we didn’t hired a real estate agent) so we thought it’s a pretty good trade.

Since then I kept adding to my paper collection each time I spot something interesting on my regular thrifting and estate auction trips. There are about five big boxes in the closet (not including the old Newsweek). I was going through some of it the other night and dreaming up a project while my hubby was threatening to call Hoarders for me; I thought of putting together some good mix and offering them in the shop sometime soon. It’s going to be a great variety for crafters who loves vintage papers. I will post some photos on my next post.

Do you also have collections that you started accidentally or for no good reason just because? I’d love to hear!



  1. Such an interesting window into someone's past. I think shoppers will love the vintage ephemera. I would feel a bit protective of it knowing where it came from - do you know what I mean?

    I have a collection of teapots, and handmade pottery, and one piece that is both of those things. I try to keep it to a minimum but when I find an interesting teapot shape or a piece of pottery that feels right in my hands, I grab it. Three of my teapots have come from one consignment shop - you'd like it - and we live in an area rich with fabulous potters. So, most of my pottery is handmade by people I know, but there are a few vintage pieces also.

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