The Martín-Crespo Ephemera Collection on the History of Tourism

Discover this wonderful collection of papers.

Jugoslavija (1958) by Yugoslavia Tourist FederationOriginal Source: Yugoslavia Tourist Federation

An ephemeral collection

The collection comprises over 4,000 paper items known as ephemera: transient papers that were never intended to survive long term, but to be thrown away and forgotten. However, these brochures, receipts, maps, and tickets have outwitted fate and ended up as a collection.

One of the biggest businesses in the world

The collection was formed by keeping travel mementos and amassing promotional materials from an era that saw immense changes to the tourism industry ...

... which went from being an upper-class activity to a phenomenon that has had one of the greatest impacts on the modern world.

Tourist Spain (1955) by Dirección General del TurismoOriginal Source: General Directorate of Tourism

Three generations

This collection was amassed by three generations of travelers from the same family (cousin, nephew, and son). They were professionals who loved travel and saw it as a way of learning. They also shared an interest in paper, and a departure point: Madrid.

Saturnino Martin-Crespo y Rueda, Unknown, 1920, Original Source: Martin-Crespo family archive
José Martin-Crespo Powys, Unknown, 1927, Original Source: Martin-Crespo family archive
José Martin-Crespo Díaz, Family archive, 1949, Original Source: Family archive
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Farewell dinner on the Bremen cruise (1933) by Nord Deustcher LLoy Bremen.Original Source: Nord Deustcher LLoy Bremen.

Saturnino: the mature tourist

Saturnino Martín-Crespo (1874–1938), printer and owner of a stationery store, became a tourist toward the end of his life when he fulfilled a lifetime dream: to go on a cruise.

The leaflets from his journeys in the 1920s and 1930s are among the most eye-catching and attractive in a collection that included brochures for shipping lines, leaflets from some of the cities he visited, passenger lists, and menus.

Automobile route to El Pardo, Madrid. (1964) by José Martin-Crespo PowisOriginal Source: José Martin-Crespo Powis

José: the traveling doctor

José Martín-Crespo Powys (1898–1975) was a doctor who had always loved to travel. He had been a boy scout, studied all over Europe, and was an inquisitive professional. Even as an old man, he continued to travel.

In the 1960s, he bought a car and planned itineraries, maps, and routes that he drew by hand for his road trips.

Plaza de Cataluña. Barcelona (1911) by Type foundry successor to J. NeufvilleOriginal Source: Type foundry successor to J. Neufville

José junior: the boy collector

José Martín-Crespo Díaz (1932–2017) was the third link in the chain. He inherited and preserved the collection of travel-related papers, aware that they were a legacy of lives and journeys interwoven with a love of travel and discovery.

St Moritz, Swiss. 1934 (1934) by Syndicat d´initiative à St MoritzOriginal Source: Syndicat d´initiative à St Moritz

A whole world of tourism

The world seems small and appealing when you look through the vast selection of brochures for destinations across the five continents.

Caravelle, Air France (1958) by Air FranceOriginal Source: Air France

Design, sources, and color

The collection has many different elements that could serve as inspiration to designers, typographers, photographers, and illustrators. It contains materials from a broad period (approximately 1910–80) and from several artistic movements, ranging from Art Nouveau through to interwar avant-garde and Pop Art.

Art in Cádiz (1930) by National Tourism Board of SpainOriginal Source: Cesar Peman y Pemartin

Spain is different

The brochures about Spain trace the evolution of a country that went from being an outlier among the other great European destinations to becoming a global leader in tourism.

Michelin Guide (1935) by Michelin. tire guideOriginal Source: Michelin. Tire guide

A living history of tourism

It is also a wonderful opportunity to explore the history of tourism through the eyes of tourists, rather than from the perspective of organizations or the industry.

Cover of the book Bon Voyage Monsieur Crespo (2017) by Eugenia Martin-Crespo RodriguezOriginal Source: Ana Moreno Garrido

Explore further

In 2018, a book exploring the traveling life of the Martín-Crespos was published, bringing together the collection's best brochures. Entitled Bon Voyage, Monsieur Crespo, it is a tribute to hidden legacies, traveling lives, and collectors of ephemera.

Credits: Story

Story by Ana Moreno Garrido and Eugenia Martín-Crespo.
In partnership with the Diego de Sagredo Foundation (Fundación Diego de Sagredo).

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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