I have always loved early ephemera from our country's history and I have been lucky enough to collect several pieces for my own collection including an early document from 1747 with the signatures of John and Josiah Cotton from the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
I also use early letters and documents as 'props' in and on some of my antique furniture like this early 19th century desk from northeastern Pennsylvania.
My favorite forms of early ephemera are the ones associated with our Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. I have one for sale in my shop that is a Revolutionary War era Promissory Note from the Connecticut Committee of Four that includes the vertical signature of Colonel Samuel Wyllys, the namesake of Ft. Wyllys found at West Point, NY. It was built in 1778, was an infantry fortification for the protection of West Point, and is still a well-preserved redoubt. Colonel Wyllys came from an important Connecticut family and was promoted from Lieutenant Colonel to Colonel in 1776. He was in command of the 2nd Connecticut Regiment during the Siege of Boston and then marched with General Washington to New York. After the war, he became a representative to the Connecticut General Assembly and then became the Secretary of State for Connecticut from 1796-1809. During the war, he also served as a revolving member of the Committee of Four in Connecticut which was the body that provided the monies necessary to further the battle against the British.
Samuel Wyllys was only one of the signers of this 1781 Promissory Note. You can see two other signatures underneath the strong vertical signature of Colonel Wyllys. They are the signatures of William Moseley (noted as a 'patriot of the war') and Eleazer Wales, who is listed as a minister in Connecticut. The address on the back of this pay voucher and is the address of Ralph Pomeroy, the Military Paymaster for the colony of Connecticut during the war. A wonderful piece of history from 1781 that is in fabulous shape to be 233 years old.
The last one that I have listed in the shop is of an 1823 Militia Certificate that commands the appearance of L. Page at Richard's Tavern in Charlestown, MA for inspection and review. It is signed by the clerk of that particular militia and is a call to be 'armed and equipped' as the law directs. This was only 8 years after end of the War of 1812 that lasted until 1815 and I am sure that our country was still reeling from that war that had its beginnings back in 103 when the British began to impress American sailors and forced them to work on British ships. This soon became an international incident when the American ship 'Chesapeake' was fired upon by British forces. The War of 1812 has always been overshadowed by the Revolutionary War but is a very interesting part of our early history. Check these two pieces out under my Ephemera button in the shop! We are headed out on another buying trips to New England in the morning and maybe I will find more military ephemera!