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

Colgate Beauty Products Magazine 1924

Category
gallery, Magazine
Why It's Interesting

This journal called Colgate Shavings was issued for its salespeople and retailers. It has stories about improving sales; memoirs of clerks and salesmen; and, of particular interest cartoons by famous illustrators and pictures borrowed from other companies’ advertising.  Bud Fisher’s Mutt and Jeff, for example, are shown in prison garb, making breaking rocks “Easy.”  Much information concerned window displays and record keeping.

Libraries rarely subscribed to corporate magazines so issues like these tend to be rare.  When you are lucky enough to find them, they can be charming and illuminating.  They need not be expensive.  This is a superior example yet it cost less than $10.  I encourage other scholars to try to acquire some of these through ebay for their own use and edification.