Like all addictions, Bella Landauer’s taste for ephemera started small, with a scrapbook of bookplates she purchased in 1923. She took up collecting after she was advised by a doctor to take it easy after her tireless work with the American Volunteer Field Service during World War I took a toll on her health. This was the beginning of a lifetime of collecting printed ephemera.
A lifelong New Yorker, Landauer continued to collect ephemera until her death in 1960. After acquiring the bookplates, she expanded her collection to include trade cards and advertising as well as lottery tickets, posters, sheet music, cameo cards, and matchbooks. When she moved from a townhouse to the Drake Hotel in 1926, she no longer had the room to house her ever-growing collection and thus donated a portion of it to the New-York Historical Society. Landauer continued to add to the N-YHS collection that she organized personally (though never as a paid employee), and The New-York Historical Society Bella C. Landauer Collection of Business and Advertising Ephemera now holds over 800,000 items that are an invaluable record of their times. Read the rest of this entry »