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


3-D Photography 1930: School Children Visit Rubber Country

Booklet, gallery
Why It's Interesting

This booklet from the Mohawk Rubber Company provided school children with a tour in text and 3-D photos of rubber plantations in Ceylon [Sri Lanka] and the Mohawk tire factory at Akron.  There are 73 photographs to be seen through “The Magic Mohawk Spectacles” shown here.  I had all of my students in an American art class look at the photos through these glasses and not one could get a single clear picture.  The technology was terrible.

Is this why the booklet is so rare?  No copies turn up on Worldcat or book-selling sites.  This copy was given out by the Colonial Tire Co. of San Bernardino, CA.  Why did they bother to publish such a disappointing set of 3-D photos?  Or did it not seem disappointing then?  I remember the 3-D movies of the late 1950s.  They looked terrible but as a child I found them exciting.  There must have been some popular interest then in 3-D photography or a tire company would not have published what must have been a fairly ambitious and expensive booklet.  Mohawk was not a prolific publisher.  Only one publication turns up under its name in 1930.

I do not show any of the photos because they would not reproduce well.  Scholars interested in seeing some can contact me at

Actually this cover is quite nice.  I would have been interested in this booklet at what it cost me just for this design.  The lack of interest on ebay for what was offered as 3-D photography puzzles me.