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


“Hawaii Comeback Club” 1931

Card, gallery


Why It's Interesting

80 years ago repeat visitors to Hawaii could obtain a certificate as members of the Hawaii Comeback Club.  The certificate, as shown here, was cased in a very unusual binding.  Consider this description that appeared in the Suffolk County News [NY] on February 27, 1931.  “Members of the club are given a membership certificate printed on tapa cloth, which is made by the natives from the bark of the mulberry tree.”  The exterior is bark and textured to resemble palm tree bark and leaves.  The leaves remind one of the effects obtained using wood-burning sets.  The term “Hawaii Comeback Club” secures only 58 hits on Google.  It would be interesting to know how may people eventually “joined” this club.