Thursday, February 3, 2011

British Library Exhibit Highlights Evanion Ephemera Collection

The Evanion Collection at the British Library is a group of over 5,000 items including posters and handbills produced as publicity for various music hall and theater entertainments, as well as for exhibitions, circuses, and other popular events. Also represented are trade catalogues, price lists, and other advertising materials that reflect the times of Henry Evans ("Evanion"), a stage magician and ventriloquist of the Victorian era.
  The Library has now created an on-line exhibition of some 2,000 of these items.  One can browse the collection or use the search function to find specific images. In the words of Helen Peden, the curator of British Collections, 1801-1914, 
Evanion took advantage of this theatrical background to amass a large and fascinating collection of printed ephemera relating to entertainment and everyday life in Victorian England. . . . We've selected some 2,000 pieces to represent the diversity of trades, products and services that made up the Victorian business world. They range from trade cards to Christmas cards; from shop catalogues to restaurant menus; from the fashions of the day for ladies and gentlemen to the latest models in stoves, boilers and other equipment, domestic and industrial. Most date from the late 1860s to 1895, but the product names are often familiar: Pears Soap, Twinings Tea, Bovril and Vaseline.
  Particularly interesting are the detailed illustrations of newly patented techniques and inventions, . . . these diagrams are all the more fascinating because they show clearly how the inventions worked.
For more details, please read the curator's introduction.

Tip of the hat to Jonathan Rees, More or Less Bunk.