This website seeks to encourage researchers and collectors to discover and study obscure ephemera that document American culture and life.  Worldcat reveals that most of the items that I post cannot be found in more than a few research libraries–often none at all.  Alternately, research libraries do not bother to catalog ephemeral publications like these.  I believe, however, that because these were distributed free, or at nominal cost, to consumers, they were the publications most likely to make their way into homes and be read by large numbers of Americans.

I acquire pre-1960 examples of the kinds of publications that prove so useful when scholars study 19th-Century America.  The limited competition that I encounter for them suggests that libraries, which could easily outbid me, have little interest in post-Civil War and 20th-century ephemeral publications in general.

I try to anticipate what materials future historians will find useful.  Being an historian first and a collector second, I organized this website to encourage others to do this too—even if this means new competition for me. I am aware that I could be wrong in prizing particular ephemera or even whole classes of ephemera.  I may even be wrong to encourage scholars to study obscure ephemeral publications; these may be obscure for good reason.

Ephemerastudies.org will permit me to share with others the information and imagery that I am acquiring, and to benefit from the knowledge, intelligence and experience of other scholars and collectors.  Please contact me with your impressions of the site.

~ Saul Zalesch

Title

110 part Serial Novel 1933

Category
Book, gallery
Date

1933

Why It's Interesting

This is part one of a 110 part serial novel Ransom! The Story of a Lost Child (1933).  It claimed to tell intimate chapters of a film star’s life.  Four libraries report possessing this book but say it is 1344 pages.  I have installments 1-67, totaling more than 2000 pages.  A complete set of the 110 installments is being offered at addall.com for $150; these total 3520 pages.  The libraries reporting copies thus either have incomplete sets or a different edition.  I have stray issues of several other serial books of that era.  Was this a Depression-era phenomenon or simply a distant descendant of The Pickwick Papers. Did people really collect all 110 installments and wait what must have been years to learn the conclusion of the story?   I can learn very little about this genre of novel.  [The installments after the first have black-and-white rather than color covers.]