The First Lady of Ephemera, Bella Landauer

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Bella C. Landauer (1875-1960), Album of calling cards, 1920-1950. Graphic Arts (GAX) 2009- in process

A New York City housewife, who we call the First Lady of American Advertising Ephemera, Bella Landauer bought her first pieces in 1923. Her collection grew, eventually forming one of the largest in the United States, including tradecards, advertising fans, valentines, almanacs, invitations, telegrams, lottery tickets, and more.

When she was out of room at home, Alexander Wall, director of the New-York Historical Society offered her an unused kitchen on the top floor of his building as a workroom. This provided storage, as well as water to help soak the labels off jars and wash other specimens. While the NYHS kept some of the collection, aeronautical material was sent to the Smithsonian Institution, and other groups to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, and the Baker Library in Hanover.

Princeton owns 16 small books about the collection, including Some Alcoholic Americana. Graphic Arts GAX 2004-3749N; Some American Billheads. Firestone NC1810.L23f; and Some Terpsichorean Ephemera. Annex A 4291.558

We now own a piece of the collection itself, with this scrapbook, holding 263 calling cards (and a few miscellaneous items) including cards from or signed by Palmer Cox, William Cullen Bryant, Henry W. DeForest and others.

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Wonderful addition. Great examples of early efforts.