The internet is a little bit like a maze of doors, some that lead to a spiralling descent of procrastination and some, though not many, can lead to forgotten treasure. Today I picked the winning door and found one of the most impressive online collections of vintage ephemera I’ve ever had the pleasure of stumbling across. Pages and pages of it, from old matchbook art to vintage French fashion magazines to outdated driving code manuals. The mysterious online collector goes by the pseudonym, “Agence Eureka” and judging by their extensive archive of French ephemera, spends a considerable amount of time sifting through the weird and wonderful French public archives.
I’d like to share with you one collection in particular, a striking illustrated digest dating from the 1960s, which essentially attempts to document the human race in 288 colour portraits.
It sold for 50 Francs at the time and looked almost like a catalogue of various traditional dress from around the world. You have to wonder whether the illustrator actually went to all these countries to meet each subject and portray them in their true light, but it seems unlikely and of course, some illustrations seem to have been a little “airbrushed” of reality and the entire thing perhaps has an air of colonialist stereotyping. There’s an original copy currently floating around on eBay. Let’s take a look inside…
African beauties (country not specified by collector).
Provençale woman, France.
Greek orthodox priest.
Chippewa, one of the largest groups of Native Americans and First Nations on the North American continent.
Dravidian people, mostly found in southern India and Sri Lanka, with smaller groups inPakistan and Afghanistan.
A Loatian woman.
Life in an igloo.
A man from Kirghizstan.
Pima people, a group of Indigenous Americans living in an area consisting of what is now central and southern Arizona.
Celebes people, from an island in Indonesia.
A Bedouin woman.
A Tunisian man.
Puerto Rican woman.
And I thought this Maori greeting one be a good one to leave you with.