A world-class collection of about 250,000 items, The John and Carolyn Grossman Collection of ephemera visually documents life in America from 1820 to 1920.

Ephemera describes printed materials that were never meant to last. It includes greeting cards, product labels, tickets, calendars, invitations, paper dolls, and more. The Grossman Collection features the finest examples of such beautiful and intricate pieces of paper.

Of particular interest are materials that document chromolithography, the first form of commercial color printing. From about 1840 to the 1930s, vibrant colors appeared on a vast array of materials, from paper “scrap” used for making scrapbooks to cigar box labels.

Among the treasures of the collection are the first commercially produced Christmas card, commissioned by English artist, designer, and author Sir Henry Cole in 1843; its accompanying printer’s proof in red ink; and an early American Christmas card from around 1850. In addition, John Grossman saved the archive of the George Schlegel Lithographic Company, a 19th and 20th century New York City business that specialized in cigar box label printing.