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


E. R. Hull & Co. Almanac 1887

Almanac, gallery


Why It's Interesting

Not only does this obscure almanac have a nice cover, it is one of the best advertising booklets from the 1880s I have managed to acquire.  Hull was a men’s clothier, and every other page here promotes its goods.  Besides having line drawings, it gives prices for a wide range of suits and other garments, including “4-button cutaway suits,” the Chesterfield, sack suits, overalls, and livery coats.  The back cover of this almanac has a beautiful scene of two elaborately dressed women with a Japonisme parasol.