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. 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


1937 Automotive Pinup; Tattoos

Booklet, gallery


Why It's Interesting

This odd image is the cover of a booklet issued in May 1937 by the Dorman Automotive Parts Co., which operated in three Ohio cities, with its headquarters in Cincinnati.  Besides providing much technical information, it has a number of of full page ads for products such as Arvin car radios; Crawford seat covers; Simoniz wax; and Weaver portable jacks.  The tattoo here shows a mechanic performing some rather-suggestible activity.  Of course, tattoos for women remained completely taboo, as would remain the case even 20 plus years later in the musical Sweet Charity, where Charity’s tiny heart-shaped tattoo demonstrated her marginality in American society.

A correspondent suggests that this is not a tattoo but on the outside of a stocking or garter belt.  I confess my ignorance about that.