The Smallest Almanacs
|Why It's Interesting|
Several advertisers issued tiny, miniature almanacs, but the one famous series of these was released by Hazeltine’s patent medicine, of Warren, PA, proprietor of Piso brand cures for consumption [tuberculosis] and other maladies. These almanacs measured only 2″ x 1-3/8″. They are popular with those who collect materials about illegal drugs that were once found commonly in medicines, but research turns up no information about Piso containing morphine, or cocaine, or such ingredients. Around 1898 Hazeltine renamed itself Piso, and it continued to publish these miniature almanacs under that name into the teens. The Piso Almanacs had much plainer covers than did their predecessors.
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.
Ephemerastudies.org 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.