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

1895 Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Almanac

Category
Almanac, gallery
Date

1895

Why It's Interesting

Frank Leslie’s, best known for its illustrated weekly paper, published one of the most beautiful and ambitious series of almanacs of the late 19th century.  I have 6 of these, and this is my favorite.  This beautiful cover is like a poster. You would think that collectors would value it [and use it] like a poster, but the market suggests otherwise.  This book bears the number Quarterly series no. 6 [which I do not understand] and a January date and 25 cents price.  It was published by Leslie’s widow, who signed the bottom of the cover Mrs. Frank Leslie.  Besides many full-page and smaller black-and-white illustrations, this volume has four full-page color pictures printed on heavy paper.  They are entitled: Fairy of the Moon; A Question; Papa’s Coming; and A Tiff, and these were probably some of the finest color images that made their way into middle-class American homes then.