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


Ladies Fashions 1920

Catalog, gallery


Why It's Interesting

John Wanamaker was once the premier department store in both Philadelphia and New York.  (Wanamaker himself was at various times the Postmaster General who introduced Rural Free Delivery and the owner of famous 19th-century paintings like Munkacsy’s Christ Before Pilate.)  This is the Fall 1920 issue of Store and Home, the journal/catalog of the Philadelphia store.  The front and back covers, insides and out,  employ rich color.  Other illustrations are in black and white.  All pictures are line drawings of various women’s  garments, including a number of styles of shoes that Andy Warhol would have been proud later to have had a chance to illustrate.  This is one of the loveliest store magazine/catalogs that I have managed to find.