COLLECTING: matchbox labels Feed


In the ten years I've been doing this blog, you've seen me introduce a host of new products. Some sold well. Others didn't. Running a business is always a process. Or, as the trendies say now, a "journey."

Now I'm introducing mugs. I found a wonderful printer in the US that manufactures and drop ships. That's great for me, because the last thing I want is shelves full of inventory and trips to the post office. That was fine when I was younger, but thanks. But with all the advances in print technologies and online servicing, it's now relatively easy to do make a great product AND have it delivered to the customer's home in a pretty package, safe and sound. 

Phew! Here's where to shop



cup, when women rule everyone will be free, 11 oz mug from small equals
When Women rule, everyone will be free. 11 oz mug from Small Equals


When Women rule, everyone will be free. This is a variation on a print I designed, first as a silkscreen and then as a digital collage. Now available in mug form. The girls are a highly altered version of a mid 20th century matchbox label. I just adore them, and use them over and over.


Mug, Lead your own parade,
Lead Your Own Parade. 11 oz mug from


Lead Your Own Parade. This little saying popped into my mind a couple of weeks ago, I thought it would be a cheerful idea to ponder with morning coffee or tea. I went on an image hunt,  I found this illustration at a library digital collection, from a 1902 children's book illustrated by Maud Hunt Squire and Ethel Mars. It suited perfectly. 

Children of our town  carolyn wells  illustrations by E. Mars and MH Squire 1902  copy
The Children Of Our Town. Carolyn Wells. Illustrations by E. Mars and MH Squire. 1902


I went ahead and cleaned it up in Photoshop, designed the template for the cup manufacturer, and then set about researching the artists. I found Ethel Mars and Maud Hunt Squire.

Lo and behold the Misses Squire and Mars were American artists who met in art school in Ohio in the 1890's, then moved to Paris where they became pals with Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas, and of course they worked and exhibited with many of the artists there. 

During world war one they moved back to the US and lived in Provincetown, MA, then back to France, where they lived in Vence. During Ww2 they hid out in Grenoble, then went back to France until they died in 1955 and 1956. 

The Gertrude Stein's word portrait "Miss Furr and Miss Skeene was based on them. .

And now they've landed on my cup. I'm delighted but no longer shocked by these everyday moments of serendipity. 


Love Your Mother Earth. 11 oz mug from


Love Your Mother Earth. Yes, I use this phrase often in my art and products. Because it's so important! This design is based on another print I made as a silkscreen. The silkscreen design was based on a photo I took of a package of Easter Jelly Beans. I'm not a Christian, but Easter packaging always makes me happy. The colors!! 

This digital version, quite different from the original, is now gracing a mug. My goal is to give you something happy and positive to absorb with your hot beverage of choice. I think it's so important to start the day with happy thoughts to set the tone for the rest of the day. 

Here's what it looked like as a silkscreen. I made this and all my silkscreens at Iskra Print Collective in Burlington, VT.


silkscreen, liza cowan, jelly beans
Jelly Beans silkscreen by Liza Cowan 2017 

 Find the cups here

1960's Russian/Soviet botanical matchbox labels

I must have ordered these 1960's Russian/Soviet botanical match box labels years ago and tucked them away in a little glassine envelope. Rummaging through my boxes of postcards yesterday, I came across them and popped them into the scanner. I can almost read some of the Cyrillic alphabet, but mostly if I am familiar with the word. And I do recognize many flowers, but I'm willing to bet I've made some mistakes in identifying these images.

Please let me know, and enjoy.


RUSSIAN botanical matchbox label aster liza cowan ephemera collections
Aster. Russian/Soviet Matchbox label 1960. Liza Cowan Ephemera collections.



RUSSIAN botanical match box label phlox LIZA COWAN EPHEMERA COLLECTIONS
Russian/Soviet botanical match box label. Phlox. Liza Cowan Ephemera Collections.



RUSSIAN botanical match box label carnation liza cowan ephemera collections
Russian/Soviet match box label. Carnations. Liza Cowan Ephemera Collections


RUSSIAN botanical match box label. gladiola
Russian/Soviet botanical match box label. Liza Cowan Ephemera Collections. Gladiola.


RUSSIAN botanical match box label. tulip LIZA COWAN EPHEMERS COLLECTIONS
Russian/soviet botanical match box label. Tulip. Liza Cowan Ephemera Collections.



Russian botanical match box label. cammomile
Russian/Soviet botanical match box label. Camomile, Liza Cowan Ephemera Collections.


diamond dyes, easter, trade card, chromolithograph,  Ephemera is one of my favorite blogs. The impressario (host/blogster)  Marty Weil interviewed me recently and the post went up today. Check it out, and keep it bookmarked because there's always something fascinating going on there for all of you ephemera lovers. 

Here's a snippet:

"One of the ways I use ephemera differently than many people is that I work a lot with details. I love to see what happens when a small portion of the item is isolated and enlarged, so you will often see details on my blog and in the reprints. My photography is often about small abstracted details of larger objects, so it's not a big stretch to see how I come to love the abstracted details of printed images. "


For your viewing pleasure, some images from my matchbox label collection. 

Matchbox label, kali, made in india, calcutta, skulls

Matchbox Label, Calcutta. PSAW ephemera collections

Matchbox label, kali, india, calcutta 

Matchbox label. Kali, detail.

kali, matchbox label, skulls, india, calcutta, blue 

matchbox label. Kali. Detail.

Matchbox la petite sweden  
La Petite Safety Matches. Made in Sweden. PSAW ephemera collections.

I bought a slew of Swedish matchbox labels for Tove, of AO! Glass and Atelier Tove because she is Swedish and I thought she and her kids would get a kick out of them.

Matchbox sweden countryside

Countryside Safety Match. Made in Sweden. PSAW & Atelier Tove collections.

Matchbox swedishcockfight blue

Cockfight Safety Matches. Made in Sweden. PSAW & Atelier Tove Collections.

Matchbox swedishcockfight detail blog 

Swedish Matchbox Label, Cockfight, detail

And then there are the Japanese Matchbox Labels. Here are a few from my collection:

Matchbox japan dragonfly
Made in Japan. Matchbox label. PSAW collections.

Matchbox japan dragonfly detail blog 

Matchbox label, Japan. Detail

matcbox label. japan, fish 

Matchbox Label. Made in Japan. PSAW ephemera collection.

Safety match fish detail 

Matchbox Label, Japan. Detail

Safety match, swan, cupid. japan 

Matchbox Label. Japan. PSAW ephemera collections.

swan, red swan, blue swan, Safety match, japan graphic 

Matchbox Label, Swans, Japan. Detail


Wells:richardson building blog

The Wells Richardson Building on College Street is a Burlington, Vermont landmark. These days it houses Bennington Potters, but in it's heyday at the end of the 19th Century, Wells Richardson & Company patented, manufactured and distributed analyne dyes under the name of Diamond Dyes, as well as butter dye, baby food and proprietary medicines like Celery Compound.

Wells richardson butter color adPrint Advertising was a part of their marketing strategy. Before the advent of color ads in newspapers and magazines manufacturers and distributors relied on trade cards and medical pamphlets -featuring their own cures - to sell their products. These they made by the gajillion, and distributed nationwide. They would be distributed for free in retail stores or any public venue where they might drum up  business.  Trade cards were hugely collectible, even in those days, and would often end up in scrapbooks, which were also the rage. The trade cards and pamphletss were printed by chromolithography, and retain their brilliant colors to this day.

Two links in the above text are from The Library Collection of Philadelphia, which has great collections. Check out their website.


Images below are from the Liza Cowan Ephemera Collections.

Diamond dye kitchen stove
Diamond Dyes, Wells Richardson trade card. 1890's Vermont. Cowan ephemera collections.


Diamond dye kettle detail blog
Diamond Dyes Trade Card. Detail.


Diamond dyes cousin john's wife liza cowan ephemera collectiosn
Diamond Dyes booklet. Cousin John's Extravagant Wife, A Story. 1890'st. Cowan ephemera collections.

Diamond dye cousin john detail 2 blog

Diamond dye cousin john detail blog
Diamond Dyes booklet, detail.

Diamond dyes boys blog
Diamond Dyes. Unequaled for making Ink, or for color
ing any articles any color. Cowan ephemera Collections.

Diamond dyes boys detail blog

Diamond Dyes, detail.

Diamond dyes class tryptich blog
Diamond Dyes booklet, front and back covers. Cowan ephemera collections.

Diamond dyes egg color Liza Cowan Ephemera Collections
Diamond Dyes, back cover detail. Dying Easter eggs.


Diamond dyes egg detail girl blog

Diamond Dyes, back cover detail. Easter eggs.



Diamond dyes class blog
Diamond Dyes booklet, front cover

Diamond dyes color your children's clothes trade card Liza Cowan Ephemera Collections
Diamond Dyes, back cover detail. Color your childrens clothes with  Diamond Dyes.

Diamond dyes detail girl with doll stroller log 

Diamond Dyes booklet, detail. She's sad because her clothes haven't been dyed with Diamond Dyes.


Lactated -girl in can blog
Wells, Richardson & Co. Lactated  Food.


Lactated food wells richardson & Co. Liza Cowan Ephemera Collections 

Wells Richardson & Co. Lactated Foods, What Are These Babies after. Die cut trade Card. Cowan ephemera collections.


Lactated food wells richardson & Co. Liza Cowan Ephemera Collections 

Wells Richardson & Co. Lactated food. Die  cut trade card. Cowan ephemera collections. The background here is blue because I scanned it on  a piece of blue paper. 


Lactated orange baby blog 

Wells  Richardson & Co Lactated food trade card. Cowan ephemera collections.

Paynes Celery Compound probably contained opiates or other drugs, which were perfectly legal. Before the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, manufacturers didn't have to list ingredients or prove their effectiveness. This Wells Richardson & Company ad from the 1889 book from Burlington Business Association.

Wells:richarson celery blog

In this ad it is touted as a cure for Nervousness, one of the most "popular" diseases of the 19th Century middle class. Here is a link to a good post about 19th Century Nervousness from  the blog (what is this).

I did my Master's Thesis in Anthropology on 19th Century American Uterine diseases, in which I write a lot about middle class women and nervousness or neuresthenia. Someday I'll write more here about it.

Diamond dyes trade cards seen on SeeSaw a blog by liza cowan





If you've been reading this blog, or if you scroll down the  ephemera pages, you know that I've been collecting needle books for a while. I'm still actively collecting but I thought I'd try to make some order out of the jumble. Of course, there are many ways these can be combined, but here I'm sorting them into categories of women, and women with children. Other needle packs feature travel, space age technologies, or just down and out advertising.

 I've posted most of these images before so you can scroll through the Ephemera or Needle pack categories if you want to see larger images.

Needlepack groups of women blog
Needle books from Pine Street Art Works Ephemera Collection.

These feature groups of women. I have more, and some featuring solitary women, and I'll bring 'em to you soon.

And here's a brand new one. New to me, old to the world, that is. I find it particularly charming.

Superior needle
Superior Needles, collection PSAW. Made in Japan.

Superior needle face detail
Superior Needle, collection PSAW, detail

Superior needle detail 2
Superior Needle, collection PSAW, detail


Paw card broadway needle detail happy birthday 

Superior Needle - (detail) greeting card. Happy Birthday





Here are some beauties from a 1931 Frigidaire booklet. According to the Frigidaire website, 1931 was the year freon was introduced as a refrigerant. Previously refrigerators had depended on ammonia and methyl chloride and sufor dioxide which proved fatal in several accidents. Freon, it turned out, wasn't so great either, since the chlorofluorocarbons destroy the ozone layer. See .

For more information on the history of refrigerators, The History Channel has some good stuff. Including that the ice trade between Boston and the South was one of the first casualties of the Civil War, and then warm winters in 1889 and 1890 created severe shortages of natural ice in the US which stimulated the invention, commercialization and marketing of mechanical refrigeration for fish and for the brewing, dairy and meat industries. Home refrigerators came later, in 1911. According to frozen food storage at home didn't become widely used until the 1940's, so the freezer shown below must have been a luxury- even more so than refrigerators - although they had been introduced in the 1920's. You can see in the Frigidaire post below from 1925 that there are ice freezing compartments.

Frigidaire 1931 booklet cover
1931 Frigidaire booklet. Collection PSAW

This is the cover. It follows the theme of mothers and daughters (or sometimes sons, but not as often) standing in front of the wonderful refrigerator. Mothers nurture and feed. And they teach their daughters that they will be doing so for their own offspring. And nothing says loving like a full fridge. Polemics aside, isn't this a gorgeous, compelling illustration. Beautifully rendered to display the warmth and joy of a happy home. I love how the mother and daughter are bathed in a pool of light, the daughter quietly contemplates the new appliance, which you can tell even from behind, while the mother lovingly and casually enjoys her daughter's attitude.

Liza cowan ephemera collections frigidaire 1931
frigidaire 1931. Liza Cowan Ephemera Collections

Chilled puddings. A marvel of modern mechanics. It looks like the girl is eating an apple, and the boy is drinking a glass of milk, so I'm betting that Mom made the treats for dessert and is putting them away, rather than taking them out. Maybe it's Jell-O.

Frigidaire 1931 booklet women and salesman
The salesman shows off his wares to....the wives. Somehow the husbands are not in on the decision making here. We can make believe that the two women shopping actually live together rather than with husbands,but we would most likely be imposing a 21st century narrative on an seventy year old moment in history.

If part of the job of advertising is to teach people class behaviors, usually just slightly above the class they are actually in, this one teaches the smooth elegance of shopping in your best clothing, listening quietly, and paying attention to the authority of the salesman in a beautifully appointed showroom. In my own Jewish upper middle class New York City childhood in the 1950's, we always had to dress up to go shopping. Although my mother encouraged me to wear dungarees for play at home and in the park, if we were going out to a restaurant or to a store or on a trip we always had to wear "nice" clothes. My brothers had to wear ties if they were going four blocks from home, unless it was to the park for sports.

Frigidaire 1931 booklet two women
In an alternate universe, the women come home to their new fridge. In the 1931 advertising universe, however, the wife who just bought the Frigidaire is showing it off to her friend. Part of the appeal of the new appliance is that it excites admiration and perhaps even envy from one's friends and neighbors, which is always rather satisfying. 

Frigidaire 1931 booklet celery

 This picture, in my opinion, could be featured in the Museum Of Modern Art. A perfect modernist study of form, line and color.

Frigidaire ice cowan ephemera collectionsations
Lovely, cold ice. At your fingertips. It must have seemed miraculous, really, and so different from having ice delivered for your ice box. Or, if you remember Almanzo in Laura Ingall's Wilder's Farmer Boy, it took three grown men (Father and his two French Canadian hired men), plus Almonzo and his older brother an full, long day to cut the ice from the frozen pond, haul it to the ice house, and pack it tight in sawdust. "Buried in the sawdust, the blocks of ice would not melt in the hottest summer weather. One at a time they would be dug out, and Mother would make ice-cream and lemonade and cold egg-nog."

Frigidaire large golf

Ah, so that's where the men were. Off playing golf. Well, never mind. They've come home for brunch, and the wives got on just fine, making some big financial decisions with enough time left over to make a chilled punch. And here comes the ice, fresh from the freezer.


Frigidaire 1931 Cowan Ephemera Collections
Frigidaire, 1931

And now, back to the daily day. Making a pie with those eggs and butter? Maybe a ham pie? Because, of course, the ubiquitous ham is sitting there waiting. What a well fed family. How happy they are.

PS: I found another great web essay from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.


After_the_rain_parisPaint By Number, After The Rain. Anon. Sold.

 Well it was and exciting evening around the TV on Wednesday. That's when Art Express from Mountain Lake PBS broadcast the episode about Pine Street Art Works exhbit of Paint By Number.

Harry_bliss_on_camera Harry Bliss, on camera.

Paul Larson, producer, and Jared Stanley, DP, came over last August to tape the exhibit. Also on hand to speak and demonstrate were Harry Bliss, Mark Waskow and Christy Mitchell. Harry is an illustrator and New Yorker cover artist. He spoke elequently about how PBN paintings break down colors for shadows and volume, and other wonderfully erudite stuff.

Christy Mitchell on camera. Paul Larson directing.

Paul wanted someone painting a PBN on camera, so Christy Mitchell agreed to do one, using an unpainted kit we had. Paul is in the foreground directing.

Mark Waskow and his Mona Lisa

Mark Waskow, collector (or end user, as he likes to say) talked about collecting PBN. He bought the Mona Lisa, and talked about how charmingly not good the painting is.

Jared Stanley, Paul Larson and Liza

My commentary runs throughout the episode. Here's a picture we took on my iMac photobooth. The version that aired was a rough cut, and when they have the final edit, they will rebroadcast and I will have it available on quicktime here and on my website.

Meanwhile, if you get Mountain Lake PBS in your area (northern Vermont, Montreal, or the Plattsburgh NY region) you can catch it on rebroadcast Saturday March 29th at 6:30 pm.


Burlington's alt weekly, 7Days Vt published a fabulous article about Nakki Goranin's American Photobooth in this weeks issue. It's beautifully written by publisher/editor Pamela Polston with tons of images from the book, and some photos of Nakki by Matthew Thorsen.

Nakki Goranin in one of her vintage photobooths. Photo by Matthew Thorsen for 7DaysVT

The article is too long to reprint here but link on over to 7DaysVT

There's a bonus that you can only get online. Cathy Resmer and  Andrew Sawtell,  from 7Dvt, came over to psaw last week to tape an audio interview with Nakki. It is online, with a photo slide show and you must listen/watch.

And remember, you can buy American Photobooth through my link to Powells Bookstore at the top of the sidebar of this blog. Merci.