Artefacts, Ephemera, and Other Objects

Artefacts, including building blocks, souvenir buildings, games, postcards and other printed ephemera convey popular images of the built environment. Audiovisual materials and digital files, many of which are part of archives, document oral histories, lectures and events, buildings, and design processes.

The Collection includes over 3,500 pieces of architectural printed ephemera ranging from engraved letterheads to admission tickets, mainly from Europe and North America and dating between the 19th and 20th centuries. Many of these items are part of the Robert Biggert Collection of Architectural Ephemera, 1890-1950 which includes sugar packets, hotel luggage labels, matchbox labels, poster and postage stamps, all with architectural images, primarily of exhibition buildings, but also of hotels, restaurants, churches, castles, office buildings, factories, banks, and other public and domestic architecture.

Significant postcard holdings make up a part of the ephemera collection. Highlights include the postcard component of the Norman D. Stevens Collection of Library Architecture (ca. 25,000 cards dating from 1900-1997); the Gilles Gagnon Postcard Collection (ca. 11,000 cards depicting architecture, landscape and cultural images from over 190 countries, dating from 1950-2001); an international architecture postcard collection (ca. 6,500 cards dating from ca.1900); a Canadian architecture postcard collection (ca. 3,600 cards dating from ca. 1900 ); a Montreal architecture postcard collection (ca. 1,200 cards, dating from ca. 1900); cards featuring various world’s fairs (ca. 615 cards, dating from 1904-1986); the postcard component of the Emmanuel Briffa Collection (ca. 375 cards featuring primarily theatres in Canada and the U.S., dating from ca. 1900-2006); the postcard component of the Robert Biggert Collection of Architectural Ephemera (ca. 140 cards dating from ca. 1890-1950); a collection of cards illustrating Frank Lloyd Wright designs (ca. 135 cards dating from 1950-1995).

Comprising over 800 items, the collection of architectural toys and games spans two centuries of toy manufacture in Europe and America and represents the full range of construction toys, including traditional wood building blocks, sets of paper architecture, and construction kits of metal, plastic or artificial stone. These toys and games provide rich insights into architectural history, particularly as toy manufacturers have always been quick to follow and incorporate into their products the latest technological and stylistic changes.

Over 1,000 souvenir models representing architectural structures and monuments. The core consists of the Hoffman Collection, a wide-ranging collection assembled by Barry Hoffman in various materials such as metal, glass, ceramic and rice straw, many of them presented in the form of ashtrays, thermometers, savings banks, etc.

Equipment and instruments related to the practice of book binding, drawing and photography have been acquired through gift and as parts of individual fonds. The CCA holds a small representative collection of about forty individual or sets of drawing instruments and aids (primarily 19th and 20th centuries) that help explain how drawings are made rather than serving as examples of craftsmanship in their own right.


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