Sometimes we find unusual items in donations to the Archives. This week, among some letters from the 1950s, we found a packet of “Hopalong Cassidy Wild West Trading Cards,” given away in boxes of Post cereal in 1951.
Hopalong Cassidy was a popular cowboy hero of the day who had appeared in books, films, radio, and—beginning in 1949—television. The character starred in 66 films and was played by actor William Boyd (1895-1972), who acquired the rights to the movies. The films proved extremely popular on television and made it possible for Boyd to create a true merchandising empire, which included “Hoppy books and Hoppy clubs,” “cowboy clothes, breakfast food, blankets, towels, bedcovers, lamps, watches, bicycles, candy, soap, and even wallpaper,” according to Life magazine (June 12, 1950).
1950s cereal ad (source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/markgregory/5893799142/ )
Items such as these are classified by archivists as “ephemera” : objects designed for short-term use and not meant to have a long life. Postcards, movie tickets, and theater programs all fall into this category, and while they are unique treasures, their preservation often presents challenges.
There were 36 trading cards in the complete Hopalong set. The Rollins Archives now has ten of them.
~ by D. Moore, Archival Specialist
Read Life magazine’s article, “Hopalong Hits the Jackpot.”