The earliest Labor Day souvenir is housed in the Library of Congress. The item is a hat ribbon worn in a parade organized by the Brotherly Union Society held in Philadelphia in the 1820s. Historians date the first Labor Day parade to Tuesday, September 5, 1882. This event was held in New York City and was organized by the NYC Central Labor Union. There are no known souvenirs from the parade.

The first Labor Day collectible is attributed to the parade in NYC although the item was produced one week after the parade. A drawing, featuring the artist’s view of the parade with marchers carrying banners and signs supporting labor and petitioning for an 8 hour workday, was printed in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated on September 16,1882.

Labor Day became an official holiday throughout the United States in 1894 when Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year, a legal holiday. Having been declared an official holiday the production of decorative items used in the celebrations flourished.

19th Century Collectibles

Parades and picnic celebrations were at the height during this time. Decorative items including multi-colored celluloid pinbacks, produced by the Whitehead Hoag Company, Newark, NJ (1880-1955) were a favorite. Other ribbons were designed to be worn on lapels of jackets or attached to a shirt. Slogans, such as “The Union is Strength”, the American flag, eagles, and even a picture of a handshake, to signify unity, adorned the red white and blue ribbons.

20th Century Collectibles

The early part of this century continued to find the multi-colored ribbons a popular item for celebrations. During this same time, the Nash Publishing Company produced a set of two illustrated Labor Day Souvenir postcards. Some of the most collectible postcards were published by John O. Winsch of New York between the years of 1911 and 1915. Winsch used heavy, rich inks and embossing on his cards, sending them to Germany to be printed. During WWI slogans and images became more patriotic. A ribbon dated 1918 included the words “We’re Behind the Man Behind the Gun.” A multi-page pamphlet was produced by the Baltimore, Maryland Congress of Industrial Unions to celebrate the 1945 labor and U.S. military troops.

Four Labor Day postcards were produced in 1907 by Lounsbury Publishing,Series 2046, which consisted of four cards: Uncle Sam pulling back a U.S. flag to proudly display a factory, a working man with a lunch pail, a family on picnic for the holiday, and Labor leading Santa Claus, George Washington, Uncle Sam, the New Year’s baby, and a Thanksgiving Day turkey on parade.

In 1900, the Kodak Camera Company developed and successfully marketed a camera that would allow a person to take a picture and process it on postcard stock paper. It became common for photographers to photograph the celebrations of families, towns, and companies then selling the photo postcards as souvenirs. Many of these postcards survive today

The United States Post Office issued a commemorative stamp for Labor Day in 1954.

A unique collectible is the postcard published by the Masons. Known as the Masonic Labor Day, it features a man who is seated surveying the industrial power of the country.

Determining Value

Number of items made/Quality of item
Connected to landmark event or celebration
Prices for postcards can vary between $35-$360. USD

Beverly A.


By yanam49

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