Spiderweb valentines card with butterfly and flowers - Ref: 217 Spiderweb valentines card with butterfly and flowers - Ref: 217 Show image info

Spiderweb valentines card with butterfly and flowers - Ref: 217


Ephemeral items are inconsistent survivals from the historical printed record as they are, by definition, of a transitory nature. They are items that would normally be thrown away at the end of their usefulness but have sporadically survived and are valuable fragments of the historical record.

Most items mentioned here are in the Local Studies collections as discreet compilations and most of them are indexed in the Local Studies subject index cards. The Archives also have many examples, but these are often spread throughout the collections and may be found through the catalogue or subject indexes.


Decorative cards were a Victorian phenomenon. As printing costs reduced and postal charges changed Valentines, Christmas, Easter and birthday cards grew in popularity. The core of the collection is about 200 19th century Valentines cards with three albums of mainly Christmas cards. There is a detailed handlist of Valentines cards.


Cuttings taken from local newspapers and magazines based on an original collection acquired from local historian JF Meehan. Mainly late 20th century with a few earlier pieces, we still regularly add to this collection. We also have access to the historic clippings collection of the Bath Chronicle, but this is held offsite. Printed subject index available for Local Studies collection. Index cards only for Bath Chronicle collection.

Posters and broadsides

Public notices and broadsides (particularly Cheap Repository Tracts) from the 18th century, through Victorian events in Sydney Gardens and up to modern theatre posters. There are also posters throughout the collections within the Theatre Royal Bath, 1909 Pageant, Festivals, Mayoralty and election collections in the Archives. No list available – see Local Studies subject index cards or search the Archives catalogue.


A common habit amongst Victorian gentlemen, scrapbooks can be a valuable source of historical information that would be otherwise lost. There is a large selection of scrapbooks throughout the collections. Some are full of newspaper cuttings, and others include original artwork, letters and unique documents. There are some subject-specific scrapbooks, such as the Mayoralty scrapbooks; Sydenham (who was particuarly interested in coins and tokens); Russell's maps collections; artists' workbooks and scrapbooks; and the Boodle scrapbooks have themes within the 36 volumes. The Hunt, Chapman and Russell scrapbooks are on Bath in Time and indexed in the Local Studies subject index cards, along with parts of the Boodle, Sydenham and Baker scrapbooks.

Theatre Royal Bath playbills

There is a large collection of playbills 1771-1908, programmes 1885-1910s, and bound posters from 1920s-1930s. Both Local Studies and the Archives have separate collections of post-WWII programmes, but there is no comprehensive listing of either collection. Early playbills are handlisted – please ask for information.

Trade cards and bills

Trade cards are now more commonly called business cards, and we still add to this collection. From the 18th century onwards, they provide evidence of business, printing and design history. Card designs were often reused as advertisements and billheads due to the cost of creating the printing plates. The bills collection is mainly 18th and 19th century, with some 20th century bills. There are a few examples from beyond Bath. The Archives have a collection of 20th century bills in the BH/ series.


These are mainly invitations to a variety of 20th century functions relating to the Bath Corporation or Council, but there are also some interesting 18th and 19th century examples. No list available – see Local Studies subject index cards.