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


Arts & Crafts Design: Berkshire Summer School of Art 1916/18

Booklet, gallery
Why It's Interesting

This beautiful booklet [dated 1916 but actually covering the 1918 season] described the operation of and offerings of the Berkshire Summer School of Art, which met at Monterey, Ma.  The title page is a luxuriant, exquisite example of Arts & Crafts printing a la the Kelmscott Press and the Roycrofters.  [The booklet’s printer was Tobias A. Wright of New York City, who apparently printed many deluxe family genealogy volumes].  This school was run by Raymond P. Ensign and Ernest W. Watson, both of Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.  The course offerings were pencil sketching, design courses, poster designing and commercial illustration, interior decoration and furniture design, landscape painting, craft courses, stenciling and block-printing, jewelry and metal work, and nature study.  The booklet is illustrated with photographs and cuts.

The 1918 season ran from July 8 to August 16.  Registration and tuition cost $35.  Bungalow rent and board [two to a bungalow] was $11.50 a week.  [Single occupancy cost $3 more per week.]  Certificates were awarded for 2 satisfactory years at the school.