THE ENCHANTMENT OF MEMORABILIA LINGERS ON

By: John Hogan

What is Memorabilia? Memorabilia derives itself as a terminology from the Latin word memorable.

COCA COLA TRAY, XV OLYMPIC WINTER GAMES

VINTAGE BAKELITE PET GROOMER CLIPPER KIT, C. 1940-50

BAKELITE PET GROOMER CLIPPER KIT C. 1940

Memorabilia is an object that is treasured for its memories; however, unlike souvenirs, memorabilia is valued for a connection to events such as historical, political, sporting, cultural or entertainment. Such items include cigarette cards, lunch tins, posters, photographs, entertainment-related merchandise, movie memorabilia, sporting items related to baseball, golfing and hockey, toys, pins with slogans that represent political and other events in history. The list can be endless.

One may ask what then is a Souvenir? What's the difference? The word souvenir derives itself as a terminology from the French language meaning memory. Memento or Keepsake are two other interchangeable terminologies that mean the same as Souvenir. Each is an object a traveler brings home for the memories associated therewith. Souvenirs can have a wide range of focus that can go anywhere from T-shirts, hats, scarves, ashtrays, plates, mugs, spoons, etc. Souvenirs frequently had and have a reputation for being tasteless or tacky. However over the years many souvenir pieces have stood their test of time and have escalated in their stature amongst collectors. Of course the attitude about them would have depended on how good they were in the first place in terms of quality of manufacture.

Souvenirs are customary gifts typically given by someone upon returning from a trip to be given to family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, business associates, teachers, classmates and any other person socially related to the returning vacationer. Such souvenir items would have been purchased affordable at the time from a Souvenir shop located in or near the place of travel. By the turn of 1900 souvenir shops popped up all over England and the United States. If a person could not afford to travel at the time, he or she could pick up a knick-knack or souvenir item at his neighborhood Souvenir shop. Again such items were a way of relating what was beyond ones own environment that depicted events that happened elsewhere in the world. Such depictions were for example common on Blue & White Souvenir Plates from England that were imported into the Rowland & Marcellus Importers of New York during turn of 1900 up to the 1940s. These blue and white plates depict churches, colleges, schools, cities and towns of Canada and the United States, Battle events, political figures, etc. Today such Blue & White Transferware that was distributed by the Rowland & Marcellus Importer and Distributors is avidly collected by serious collectors and prices on many occasions are into the hundreds of dollars. Some of those 'R & M' plates are so intense in color of blue that they are collected either as Flow Blue and as Historical Blue & White.

Today many dealers include 'souvenir items' under the category of 'memorabilia'. In essence many items of what used to be thought of as 'souvenir items' have actually become 'memorabilia' due to the passage of time. In actuality there is a very fine line between the two terminologies. Take note for example of all the Royalty Commemorative or Souvenir china that was produced at the time; today it is also termed as Royalty Memorabilia by the various collectors and dealers. It almost like saying that all antiques are collectible but not all collectibles are antiques. Memories of yesteryear is memorabilia that lingers on and will always find a place in everyone's heart and home. Memorabilia may start as low as a dollar and go into the thousands of dollars depending on what the article or item is and its relationship to society and historical context. Some memorabilia may be current, collectible and even antique depending on its year of production. It may be manufactured from a variety of materials ranging from cloth, glass, paper or metal.


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