Monday, May 6, 2013


 The most affordable antique ephemera are perhaps, those small, mass-produced devotional pictures we call "estampitas", or holy cards. In our Christian tradition, estampitas were meant for the use of the faithful, and they typically depict images of saints or religious scenes. The reverse may contain a prayer, some of which promise an indulgence for its recitation. The circulation of these cards is an important part of the visual folk culture of Roman Catholics.
An important part of the visual folk culture of Filipino Roman Catholics, estampitas were used as iconographic guides in the carving of saints. Early cards were just black and white engravings on parchment, sometimes hand-tinted, until the advent of color lithography and newer printing techniques.
The more desirable estampitas are the pierced paper examples that simulate lace. In the center, a colored religious picture is imprinted. Because of their delicate cut-outs, these cards are rarely survived without tears and missing parts, so they remain on top of the list of holy card collectors.
Other estampita variants include Vocation Cards, given out by priests and nuns to celebrate milestones ion their religious life like ordination, profession and sacerdotal anniversraies. There are also Memorial Cards. Sacramental Cards (to mark Baptism, Communion, etc.) and Souvenir Cards from places of pilgrimage.
Since hundreds of thousands are still available, judicious collectors often collect by visual themes (Angels, Saints, Holy Week Scenes, Infant Jesus, Virgin Mary) or categories (Holy Communion Cards, Prayer Cards, Lace Cards, Local Cards). The estampitas shown here, numbering over 200 pieces all came in an album, sold by a private collector though a dealer. Reasonable priced, they are the most appealing paper collectibles one can find today.

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