Monday is opening day of the annual, week-long National Hobo Convention in Britt, Iowa (August 3-9, 2015). To celebrate the life of these wandering workers here are a few insights and ephemeral facts and documents related to hobos.
“A hobo is a migratory worker or homeless vagabond—especially one who is penniless. The term originated in the Western—probably Northwestern—United States around 1890. Unlike “tramps”, who work only when they are forced to, and “bums”, who do not work at all, “hobos” are traveling workers.”
The origin of the term hobo is unknown. According to etymologist Anatoly Liberman, the only certain detail about its origin is the word was first noticed in American English circa 1890. Liberman points out that many folk etymologies fail to answer the question: “Why did the word become widely known in California (just there) by the early Nineties (just then)?” Author Todd DePastino has suggested it may be derived from the term hoe-boy meaning “farmhand”, or a greeting such as Ho, boy! Bill Bryson suggests in Made in America (1998) that it could either come from the railroad greeting, “Ho, beau!” or a syllabic abbreviation of “homeward bound”. It could also come from the words “homeless boy”
1. "On Hobos, Hautboys, and Other Beaus". OUPblog. Oxford University Press. November 12, 2008. Retrieved 2009-08-05. 2. Mencken, H.L. (1937). "On the road again". The American Language (4th ed.). grammarphobia.com (July 25, 2009). Archived from the original on 2012-05-05. Retrieved 2013-05-06. 3. Interview with Todd DePastino, author of Citizen Hobo: How a Century of Homelessness Shaped America from the University of Chicago Press website 4. Bryson, Bill (1998). Made in America.[page needed]. ISBN 978-0-380-71381-3.
Various periods of American history have stimulated the growth of the Hobo popultation. From the end of the Civil War which saw many displaced veterans hopping the rails in search of work to the surge in the 1890s during the depression of the time. And of course the Great Depression in the 1930’s put not only single people but whole families on the road and rails in search of work.
Britt, Iowa and the Hobos
This friendship began with the aspirations of three Britt men, Thomas A. Way, T.A. Potter, and W.E. Bradford, in 1900. Their desire was to gain some attention for the small Iowa town to “do something different to show the world that Britt was a lively little town capable of doing anything that larger cities could do.”
Way and Potter read a report in the Chicago paper that Tourists Union No. 63 had elected as officers Onion Cotton, of Danville, Illinois and Grand Head Pipe Charles F. Noe, of Sycamore, Illinois. They wrote to Noe and invited him to bring the Hobo Convention to Britt in 1900. Noe wrote them that he would come out to Britt and look the ground over, providing Way and Potter would defray his carfare and expenses. They agreed.
It was an autumn day in 1899 that Noe arrived at the Milwaukee depot and was met by Way and Potter. They wined and dined the Grand Head Pipe, then called in an attorney, W.E. Bradford, to guide the proceedings and see that they were legal. They also invited Phil Reed, a newspaper man connected with the Britt News. The four men must have guaranteed that the Hobo Convention would go over big in Britt, for Noe agreed to bring the convention to Britt in 1900 and the 22nd day of August was set as the date.
Bailey of Britt, a nationally known humorist and an ardent conventioneer, assumed the publicity end of the promotion, and various other men took responsible positions on the committees. The novelty of the convention appealed to newspaper reporters everywhere, and everyone talked it up, taking the matter as a joke – except the promoters.
The “Britt hobo” is thought to be Tourist Union 63 President Onion Cotton. Onion Cotton is the hobo who agreed to bring the convention to Britt in 1900.”
The Millionaire Hobo
Another interesting hobo storyline is the work of James Eads How (1874 – 1930) was an American organizer of the hobo community in the early 20th century. Heir of a wealthy St. Louis family, How chose to live as a hobo and to help the homeless migrant workers. The newspapers often referred to him as the “Millionaire Hobo”.
How was the founder, driving force, and financier of the International Brotherhood Welfare Association, a union for migrant workers which published Hobo News, and organized hobo colleges and hobo conventions.
More about James Eads How on Wikipedia
- Hobo Ephemera:
Here are some links to hobo ephemera available for purchase today:
Cincinnati. c.1947. The collection is comprised of : two handwritten correspondences on official “Knights of the Road- Hoboes of America” stationery from Jeff Davis soliciting the newly published “Knights of the Road Scrap Book” along with news concerning recent gatherings and upcoming conventions; A solicitation for funding on official “Knights of the Road- Hoboes of America” stationery with printed notes laid on and bearing the ink stamped signature of Jeff Davis; a handwritten correspondence from Jeff Davis on official “Knights of the Road- Hoboes of America” stationery presenting “Bo Pete” with his 3rd Degree membership credential and signed ” Hoboically Yours, Jeff Davis , King and Emperor; a handwritten correspondence from Jeff Davis on official “Knights of the Road- Hoboes of America” stationery relaying some brief news and presenting “Bruce” with his 3rd Degree membership credential and ” a card from Jack Dempsey’s New York Bar” and signed ” Hoboically Yours, Jeff Davis , King and Emperor; a Knights of the Road ” Certificate of 3rd degree Knighthood filled in and signed by Davis and bearing an official Hoboes of America official embossed seal;another Knights of the Road ” Certificate of 3rd degree Knighthood filled in and signed by Davis and bearing an official Hoboes of America official embossed seal; a small proxy ballot for ratification of Jeff Davis as “King of the Hoboes for Life”, to be used if “unable to attend because of war conditions”; a National Membership Card of the International Itinerant Migratory Workers’ Union-Hoboes of America, filled in and signed by Jeff Davis;Knights of the Road Membership “Certification of Knighthood” card, filled in and signed by Jeff Davis and bearing the gold embossed official seal of the International Itinerant Migratory Workers’ Union-Hoboes of America; Letterhead envelope hand addressed by Jeff Davis and postmarked April 1, 1947.
Luminaries listed upon the official Knights of the Road letter-head are. Jack Dempsey, Carl Sandburg,Walter Huston,Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, Lowell Thomas -broadcaster, and traveller,Joe Louis- Heavyweight Champ, Jack Dempsey-Heavyweight Champ,Walter Huston – Director, “Gen.” Jacob Coxey – Politician and Activist, Arthur Hayday – British Union Leader and Member of Parliament, Monrad Wallgren – Governor and US. Senator.
Letter sheets and certificates folded for mailing.Very Good, moderately soiled Envelope opened at side instead of rear. All other pieces in bright, crisp Fine condition. A charming and evocative gathering of American Cultural relics.
On June 13th Cowan’s is offering a remarkable selection of early photographs, letters, documents, flags, political ephemera and more dating from the Revolutionary War-period through the Civil War and beyond, as well as the American West. We are proud to present selections from the Paul DeHaan Collection of items related to Admiral David Glasgow Farragut and his flagship, the U.S.S. Hartford. Additionally, photography from the Tom MacDonald Maine Civil War CDV Collection will also be featured in the auction.
Thursday, June 12: 12:00 – 5:00 pm EST
Friday, June 13: 8:00 – 10:00 am EST
Buyer’s Premium for this auction is 17.5[%]
Great news from the Big Apple for Ephemera lovers.
Another example of why we need to support the National Endowment for the Humanities!
New York, NY
The Museum of the City of New York is pleased to announce the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for the project Illuminating New York City History through Material Culture: A Proposal to Process, Catalog, Digitize, and Rehouse the Ephemera Collections of the Museum of the City of New York. The application, submitted to the NEH Humanities Collections and Reference Resources grant opportunity in July 2013, outlines a plan to increase public access to over 6,500 objects of material culture over the course of two years. The materials will eventually be available on the Museum’s online Collections Portal. The Museum was notified of the successful funding of this application in the amount of $125,000 by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s office in March 2014, by instruction of the NEH.
Great article on the Brimfield Outdoor Antiques Show next week. Go for the Brimfield Paper & Postcard Marathon beginning May 9th and stay for the Antiques blitz!
By Lori Stabile | Special to The Republican
It’s almost time for the May installment of the Brimfield Outdoor Antiques Shows, a thrice annual event that draws antique lovers from near and far to the tiny town of Brimfield, Mass. for six days at a time.
The May show – known as the largest antique show of the three – opens Tuesday, May 13 and runs through Sunday, May 18.
What is usually farmland transforms into a giant outdoor antique sale, featuring thousands of dealers on 23 fields selling almost everything imaginable – giant Ronald McDonald heads, garden items, 1950s dishes, postcards from various eras, music equipment, furniture, vintage jewelry and clothing and more.
It was 1959 when Gordon Reid got the idea to hold an outdoor antique show.
His daughters, Judith R. Mathieu and Jill R. Lukesh, continue the tradition their father started, on the J&J Promotions field, which is open only on Friday and Saturday and hosts 400 dealers.
Opening times vary according to field, with most opening Tuesday. Check www.brimfieldshow.com for specific field opening times.
The first “show” featured 67 dealers selling items on tarps in front of their station wagons, Mathieu said, describing the event as “rustic.”
Asked what Reid would think about Brimfield has become, Mathieu replied, “Oh my gosh, he would be thrilled. He would be quite honored, I’m sure.”
She said that she and her sister have maintained the quality that her father wanted on his field, ensuring dealers are selling antiques and not new items.
Because the family has been involved in the shows so long, Mathieu has plenty of advice for first-timers to the shows (the next show is in July, followed by the last one in September).
Dress comfortably, she suggests, and bring cash, as many dealers do not accept credit cards.
And bargain. Dealers expect it, Mathieu said, “but be fair in your offer.”
Even though Brimfield has been around now for many years, Mathieu said they still hear people tell them that this is their first time.
“People are just thrilled to be here,” Mathieu said.
Celebrity sightings are not unusual at Brimfield – home decor maven Martha Stewart, hockey great Terry O’Reilly, singer-actress Barbra Streisand and director-actress Penny Marshall all have been spotted in recent years.
Donald G. Moriarty, co-owner of Heart O’ the Mart with his wife Pamela, predicts that the May show will be “great.” They have been involved in the antiques show for the past 32 years, and he said he’s been seeing more international buyers at the shows.
“Each year seems to get a little bit bigger,” Moriarty said.
His field opens Wednesday at 9 a.m. with approximately 450 dealers. Like Mathieu, he advises people to dress “for comfort, not style” and in layers.
“Bring your wallet . . . Allocate as much time as you possibly can because it’s a huge, huge show,” Moriarty said.
Some fields charge admission. The next shows are July 8 to 13, and September 2 to 7.
Here is where to find maps and brochures for the Brimfield Show
Re-posted from Mass Live
Everything is 25% off this week!
Find something for Mom today and it will be shipped to arrive by Saturday.
Or buy Mom and Etsy Gift Card and point her towards 9 Miles Of Wonder on Etsy so she can choose her own gift!
Listings will be added throughout the day and tomorrow so if there is a special item you are looking for don’t hesitate to email me. I have a ton of items available which aren’t listed.
Enjoy your shopping on my and the other great shops on Etsy.com.
Sale ends May 17th!!!
Len has been collecting, preserving and restoring neon since the 1970’s and is a master at all things Neon.
Be sure to check out the programs he is offering by going to the website here
Hoping we love each other as much today as on any other day of the year.
Here’s an article from the Wintherthur Museum in Delaware on the Ephemera of love:
The Winterthur Museum houses one of the finest collections of American Ephemera,
The John and Carolyn Grossman Collection
This world-class collection contains some 250,000 items that visually documents life in America from 1820 to 1920, The John and Carolyn Grossman Collection is now housed in the Winterthur Library.
As a lover of antiques and of the wonderful LOVEJOY series on the BBC, I was happy to find this article to share. Great information by Wayne Jordan on what is said to be the auction that started it all.
As Captain-Generalcy of the English forces, John Churchill was the commander of the English troops at the Battle of Blenheim in Bavaria (1704). His clever tactics enabled him to beat his French opponents, and the Monarchy awarded him the title Duke of Marlborough and an estate (above) named in recognition of his successful battle at Blenheim.
The antiques business began in July, 1886.
At least, that’s the claim made by author Jonathan Gash in his book “Paid and Loving Eyes” (Penguin, 1993). Gash is the creator of the Lovejoy character, a roguish antiques dealer whose escapades are recounted in more than two dozen novels and 71 BBC television shows.
I enjoyed watching the BBC series (what’s not to like about Ian McShane?), but there was little to be learned about antiques by doing so. That’s not the case with the books, however. Although the Lovejoy novels are works of fiction, Gash (real name John Grant) doesn’t stray far from the facts when he discusses antiques. He devotes a lot of detail—sometimes pages—to describing the antiques that are the catalysts for his stories. He also goes into great detail about how forgeries and fakes are made, and how common they are in the antiques trade. Want to know about 18th-century German snuff boxes? Lovejoy will tell you. Want to fake a Sheraton table or age a freshly painted watercolor? Lovejoy gives up those secrets. If I didn’t know better, I’d think that Gash/Grant was an accomplished forger; he seems to know a little too much about how to fake antiques. (He was actually a physician and university professor).
So, when I read Gash’s claim that the antiques trade began in July of 1886, I paid attention. I’d never known anyone to try to pin a “start date” on the antiques business. I consulted my old friend Google to check the claim myself. Here’s Gash’s claim, from the above book:
“Once upon a time, antiques were a rarified pursuit for scholars… they spent fortunes, and founded private museums. Until July 1886. In that month, the great antiques hunt began when an auctioneer intoned “Lot One” and the Duke of Marlborough’s Blenheim Palace’s magnificent treasures—art, furniture, statuary—went under the hammer… the Great Antiques Rush was on.”
As it turns out, Gash wasn’t too far off regarding the date and spot-on regarding the contents of the auction. The Duke’s possessions were, in fact, auctioned off over a period of several weeks in late June/early July in 1886. In just a few generations, the Marlborough “dynasty” went from fame and fortune to dissolution under the auctioneer’s hammer.
The first Duke of Marlborough, John Churchill, was initially a page in the Court of Stuart. Through his political savvy and a marriage to Queen Anne’s close friend Sarah Jennings, Churchill rose to the Captain-Generalcy of the English forces. When the War of Spanish Succession broke out, Churchill found himself commanding the English troops at the Battle of Blenheim in Bavaria (1704). His clever tactics enabled him to beat his French opponents, and the Monarchy awarded him the title Duke of Marlborough and an estate named in recognition of his successful battle at Blenheim.
John Churchill died in 1722, and his title and property passed through various successors over the next 150 years. The Churchills (and later Spencers), though not among England’s most prosperous families, were well-to-do and spent a considerable sum furnishing Blenheim Palace. The Fifth Duke of Marlborough was a real spendthrift and bought the family right into an awkward financial position. What was awkward for the family, though, turned out to be good for launching the antiques trade in 1886.
The first Marlborough auction catalog from June 1886.
As the grip of the Industrial Revolution tightened around England’s economy, the “Old World” economy of wealthy landowners and tenant farmers began to collapse. By the turn of the 20th Century, many Peerage estates found themselves in financial difficulty. The fastest way for an estate to raise cash was by selling off their vast collections of art, jewelry and furniture.
By 1870, the family’s financial situation was so bad that the Seventh Duke began to sell off family assets. Real estate (other than Blenheim) was sold, as well as personal property, including the famous Marlborough gems. When the amount raised proved to be insufficient to pay his debts, the Duke petitioned Parliament to break the estate’s entail and allow liquidation of the estate. Under English law, estates were required to follow a strict method of inheritance, called an entail. To accommodate the Duke’s request, an act of Parliament was required. When the Blenheim Settled Estates Act of 1880 was passed, the Duke was free to call an auctioneer and arrange for the liquidation of the estate. The Duke’s descendants, including Sir Winston Churchill and Lady Diana Spencer (“Princess Di”) could claim descendancy from Marlborough but didn’t benefit from the Blenheim money.
The Marlborough auction began on Saturday, June 26, 1886, and was conducted by the firm of Christie, Manson and Wood (which would become today’s “Christie’s”) at their London sale rooms. Auctioneer James Christie had started his auction business some 120 years earlier and his company was considered to be London’s finest auction house. In the 18th century, peerage auctions were uncommon, and much of Christie’s trade came from bankrupt merchants and private sales. In the late 19th- and early 20th-centuries, Christie’s became the auctioneer of choice for destitute aristocrats.
The Marlborough sale ran, off and on, for several weeks. Lots offered were furnishings, porcelain, rugs, silver and household goods; plus art and sculptures by Rubens, Van Dyck, Raphael, Rembrandt and others. A catalog of the first day’s sale, preserved by the University of California Los Angeles Library, can be seen here.
The Marlborough auction was certainly the most important auction of its time, but is it a fair assessment to use it as the start date for the antiques trade? I believe that it is, although I’m sure that there are those who think I’m crazy for believing so. In my opinion, it makes as much sense to ascribe June 1886 as the start date for the antiques business as it does to ascribe July 4, 1776, as the date of American Independence. Certainly there had been skirmishes with the British before July of 1776—most notably the battles at Concord and Lexington, and the Boston Tea Party—but in spite of those early skirmishes, we lay claim to the date of July 4, 1776, as the start of our independence. Similarly, there was antique buying and selling going on before June 1886. But the Duke of Marlborough’s auction was the watershed event that brought the antiques trade into general awareness. After that date, antiques were no longer the exclusive province of the gentry.
The turn of the 20th century, would see antique shops cropping up all over Europe, and in America they were found in the seaport towns of New York, Boston and New Orleans. In the 21st century, antiques are in vogue; there are thousands of shops in America alone and countless magazines, books, websites, blogs and television shows that cater to antiques collectors and enthusiasts. As Gash’s Lovejoy says:
“Now we’re all at it. Clever people draw graphs of antiques’ values, starting back in that summer of 1886. Don’t be fooled. It’s not a mathematical proposition. It’s not a philosophy. It’s a scramble.”
Wayne Jordan spent more than 40 years in the music business as a performer, teacher, repairman and music store owner. In 25 years of musical instrument retailing he has bought, sold, rented or repaired thousands of pianos, band & orchestra, combo, and folk instruments. Wayne is currently a Virginia-licensed auctioneer and certified personal property appraiser. For more info, visit Wayne Jordan Auctions.
Reposted from http://www.worthpoint.com
Ran across this article which has some great advice about preservation and storage of your ephemera collection. Be sure to check out the link at the bottom of the post for a free eBook on ephemera preservation. Happy treasure hunting.
Most ephemera can be effectively handled by putting them in inexpensive polypropylene sheet protectors, and keeping these in a binder. The two clear sides of the protectors allow viewing of the items without destructive handling. Typically newspapers would have the relevant item cut out (either including the newspaper name, date, and page from the same sheet, or with that information noted on the retained item). Most items will fit into letter-sized protectors, but some may need some larger format.
Digital preservation is important, since the information can be better preserved and shared by having multiple backup and distributed copies. Flatbed scanners are usually the tool of choice to generate the images. 300 dpi (dots per inch) scan resolution is a good rule of thumb, although it may be more than needed for newspaper-like items. I like to name each scan file with the year, person and short subject indication. For cataloging, I usually rely on the descriptive filenames, which can be viewed and searched via the computer’s normal mechanisms. For a few kinds of items for which it seems important, I make text files with greater detail about the contents.
DON’T use the cheap plastic envelopes to keep your original paper records in. The chemicals in them destroy the contents over time. Use proper archive quality plastic envelopes if you wish to keep them in good order for future generations. – Colin Mar 20 at 7:26
I would start by investing in some (archival-quality) plastic binder pockets. For digital storage, a small flatbed scanner will get a better image, but a digital camera is also fine for recording a digital copy. Try to organize as you go (slip an article into the plastic, scan/photograph it, and then record any additional notes about it), although I would prioritize physical organization if you’re finding it overwhelming or you’re facing a time constraint.
The great thing about using binder pockets (assuming things will fit in them) is that it’s simple to:
1. take the binder to a family reunion and let everybody page through it
2. drastically reduce the possibility of damaging something while reading
3. take the collection to a library or other archive to look up vital records
4. reorganize the order
5. group by event (wedding, death, birth, etc.)
6. group pieces by family
7. group pieces by generation
8. or change your mind halfway through and switch your organization around!
Try to include your grandmother or other older relatives in the preservation process as much as possible — hopefully they will be thrilled that you’re excited about your family history and want to share all sorts of stories about the newspaper articles, photographs, etc. (Ironically, this makes the job of “family historian” harder, since you not only need to preserve the physical object, but also organize associated stories — but it is so, so worthwhile. The number of details and even new family relationships that I learned about when reading through newspaper articles with my grandmother was astounding.)
Ephemera comes in all shapes and sizes. Check out The Heirloom Registry to preserve the stories attached to ephemera found around the house. The online registry allows users to preserve and share the stories behind family heirlooms and precious belongings. You can see the Heirloom Registry sticker on the bottom of my teacup in this picture.
As another person mentioned, digital records, as simple as taking an image with your cell phone, are a good way to capture the information. I have done this with great success in photographing an old scrapbook full of newspaper clippings my grandfather made. I can zoom in and read all the text in the article clippings. The challenge with this is HOW DO YOU ADD CONTEXT AND METADATA TO A DIGITAL FILE? And therein lays the crux of your question. I would suggest that you do as the archivists would do. Assign each piece of ephemera it’s own unique identifier (number) and then in a separate document (notebook, text file or database) record the number and then all the contextual information you know about it. Like “Grandma clipped this out of the Washington Post when Aunt Mabel died” or “Cousin Grace gave Grandma this muffin recipe in 1960 – Grandma made it once, but thought it had too much baking soda, so she adjusted the recipe. She said it was Grandpa’s favorite :)”
I’ve been scanning the family photo albums and doing some acid-free repair as I go. I have a high quality flatbed scanner and have done the photos separately (both sides if there’s anything on the reverse) and transcribed any writing on the photo, photo back or page captions into the jpeg files information.
Then I set up a camera and photograph the entire album page with all photos on it. Context can be important.
After I have a set done, I put the photos up on a photoshare site (SmugMug in my case) in a private gallery so I can share them out and have an online backup of the information.
My next project is all the stories my grandmother handwrote to my siblings and I when we were children relating her growing up in Texas and New Mexico during the great depression. They are priceless to all our family.
There is now a free eBook in PDF format available from here all about preservation of records that is well worth downloading and reading imho.
Free Ebook about ephemera preservation: