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


Shakers: Mt. Lebanon NY 100th Anniversary 1888

Almanac, gallery


Why It's Interesting

This is a one-of-a-kind version of the Shaker almanacs issued during the 1880s.  Most are simply called Shaker Almanac, and these fetch high prices when they appear–rather often–on ebay.  I had not seen this one before, and I won it cheaply because it did not say Shaker.  The back looked Shaker so I looked it up on Worldcat, and indeed it was Shaker.  Whereas the routine Shaker almanacs are simply almanacs and sell patent medicines, this one has extensive texts relating Shaker history, tracing it from the “Revolutionists of Dauphine and Virarais France c. 1689, through Ann Lee’s visions, to the founding of Mt. Lebanon, NY.  The text also describes the organization of the Societies of Shakers and has 5 additional pages of more recent Shaker history, and on how the Shakers discovered the medicines sold by their almanacs.  There are many testimonials and descriptions of the ailments that their miraculous medicines would cure or alleviate.

The Shaker almanacs were not necessarily issued by the Shakers themselves.  It is similar to current ads for furnaces that play upon Amish craft [used in their wooden frameworks].