Major new named ephemera collections

Since 2002, we have received several large collections with their own finding aids, as follows:

The John Fraser Collection of Propaganda Postcards

john fraser jfp3303

This is a fascinating collection of propaganda (and some topographical) postcards, from the beginnings of the postcard era to date. Its strengths are in the First and Second World Wars, which are represented internationally.  

The John Fraser Collection has not been digitised. Volunteers have been cataloguing the cards, notably those from the South African War, the First World War and the Women's Suffrage movement. To see these entries, use the Browse function of our online catalogue, set the scroll bar to 'Shelfmarks' and type 'John Fraser', or search in the usual ways.

The index (PDF) is in draft form.

Several books of selections from the John Fraser Collection have been published by Bodleian Publishing.


The Ballam Collection of Games and Pastimes

ballam historical tetotums

From 2012 to 2019, Richard Ballam donated to the Bodleian 1,600 games and pastimes, ranging in date from 1771 to 2000.

Cataloguing of the Ballam games is nearly complete. Alphabetical (PDF) and chronological (PDF) lists enable users to discover which games are in the collection: most have been boxed and can be consulted in the normal way (with an 'A' category reader's card). Images for games out of copyright can be seen through GARD (the Games Research Database). These images are also linked from the Johnson online catalogue.

Bodcast about the Ballam Collection: '200 years of fun and games'.

For further information, see our Games for Research guide.

Mary Gardiner Collection of Happy Families and other Card Games

mary gardiner cheery families sample card

The Mary Gardiner Collection of Happy Families and other card games came to us by bequest in 2002. The Happy Families (and variant) packs are catalogued. Mary Gardiner and John Hayter issued a three-volume work, The catalogue of Happy Families (annotated working copy), which can be ordered through SOLO.

The supplementary card games are indexed.

Donald Welsh Collection of Playing Cards and Card Games

welsh might atom

The Donald Welsh Collection was bequeathed to the Bodleian by Major Robert (Donald) Welsh, co-founder of the English Playing Card Society. It came to the library shortly after Major Welsh’s death in 2017. The collection, comprising nearly 6,000 packs of English playing cards and card games from the 18th century to the present, has been sorted, boxed and is being catalogued. This work, by an expert volunteer, has been interrupted due to COVID-19 measures. The cards fall broadly into the following categories: Standard playing cards, Non-standard playing cards, Advertising cards and Card games.

View the index.

The Lennox-Boyd Collection

lennox boyd warren engraver for linens

We acquired ephemera collected by the Hon Christopher Lennox-Boyd in November 2015. Consisting mainly of trade cards, bill headings, ceremonial and funeral ephemera, this collection was accepted in lieu of inheritance tax by HM Government from the estate of the Hon. Christopher Lennox-Boyd.

The collection complements ephemera in the John Johnson Collection, and focuses primarily on Trade Cards, Bill Headings, Note Headings, Hotel Ephemera, Coronations and Funeralia. A preliminary sort has now taken place, and a provisional index is in preparation.

The Sayers Collection of Ocean Liner Ephemera

john sayers canadian pacific passenger list cover

We have now received the entire Sayers Collection from Canada. Indexes are in preparation.

The John Johnson Collection blog includes a series of explanatory posts by John Sayers himself, as well as an interview about the formation of his collection.

View the index.