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


Beautiful 1923 Cosmetics Catalog: Princess Pat

Catalog, gallery


Why It's Interesting

This wonderful small catalog not only has a great cover but is filled with tiny color vignettes and pages reproducing the packaging, discussing, and giving the price of the Princess Pat company’s cosmetics.   It measures 4 x 3-1/4″.  The first 27 pages recount the history of cosmetics and beauty since 14th-century England and supplies beauty “secrets.”  The remaining 12 pages show the bottles, and sometimes the packaging, of Princess Pat cosmetics.  These included: cleanser, powder, cream, tint, ice astringent, perfume, toilet water and two=purpose talc.  The Princess Pat Beauty Treasure Chest cost $3.50.  Lipstick and talc cost a quarter each.  The perfume came in 3 sizes: $1 and $2 and “Fancy, Gift, $4.50.”

No libraries report owning this booklet; no copies can be found on