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


Eduard Strauss American Farewell Tour c.1900

Booklet, gallery


Why It's Interesting

Eduard Strauss belonged to the unrivaled Viennese musical dynasty.  Today only Johann is well remembered, for his waltzes, but at the turn of the 20th century the numerous Strauss composers and performers epitomized fine concert music throughout Europe and the United States.  This particular copy of the Farewell program was issued for a performance at the Chicago Auditorium [the building by famed architects Adler & Sullivan] between November 28 and December 1.  Boxes cost $10.  Orchestra seats cost $1 and $1.50; balcony seats were 75 and 50 cents.  The program lists 85 cities for this tour, ranging geographically from New York and Montreal to Los Angeles and San Francisco; and including cities as small as Troy and Utica, NY, Altoona, PA, and Galesburgh, IL.

The booklet lists 7 different programs that the orchestra performed.  Each had something by both Johann and Eduard Strauss; the only other works that appeared in more than one program were: Wagner’s “Walther’s Prize Song;” Mendelssohn’s “Song Without Words;” and C. M. von Behr “Evening Song.”  Most of the ads in the program promote railroad travel.

The back cover is a full page celebration of Chickering & Sons pianos, and is in trompe l’oeil, bas relief like the image here.