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.

~ Saul Zalesch

Title

Women Coin Pressers at Mint 1888

Category
Book, gallery
Date

1888

Why It's Interesting

This scene appears om page 38 of G. G. Evans, Illustrated History of the U. S. Mint (1888 edition).  The woman is shown pressing coins at the Philadelphia mint.  The next page states: “These presses are attended by ladies, and they do their work in a perfect manner.”  This book similarly illustrates much of the equipment and many of the jobs involved in minting coins then.  It also has many pages showing the rarest American [and ancient] coins.  This was the only scene showing a woman.  The text does not explain why women did this job and not others, but since it is the only job shown that resulted in a finished [valuable] product, one assumes that they were trusted more than men not to help themselves to samples.

One has to wonder though, did the women actually wear such a “uniform” at work?