Lotteries began in Europe in the sixteenth century. In America, they were a source of revenue for the founding of several colleges, such as Harvard. They have also been used to fund the building of canals, railroads, and turnpikes. Lottery tickets were used for give-aways of material goods such as jewelry, and games. In the early years, they were used as a way for merchants to advertise their goods. The tickets, on average, measured 2 ½ x 6 ¾ inches. Early on, they were printed only in black; later with colors such as red and blue. They often had a "State Lotteries" stamp, and in the nineteenth century a lottery watermark.
The American Antiquarian Society's lottery tickets collection includes two binders, sorted by state and town. There are approximately 350 tickets ranging in date from the mid-1750's to the late nineteenth century. Related to this collection are some broadsides issued by lottery offices and government agencies, which are housed in the Graphic Arts Department.
-Terri Tremblay, Assistant Curator of Graphic Arts
Source: Rickards, Maurice, The Encyclopedia of Ephemera. New York: Routledge, 2000.