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


Ford Car Accessories, 1916

Catalog, gallery
Why It's Interesting

In 1916 when this catalog was issued, Ford sold only one kind of car, the Model T, and this car absolutely dominated the American market.  She was known affectionately by many, and not so lovingly by as many more consumers, as the Tin Lizzie.  The Model T. was cantankerous, hard–and dangerous–to start with its crank in the front, and uncomfortable, but it put average Americans on wheels.

If we still have a mental image of the Tin Lizzie we envision her on a farm or country roads.  But this catalog was issued in New York City.  We forget that New York streets were filled with Model Ts, enough to support this company, and other auto-parts suppliers, including Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Wards.

Some accessories offered here included one-day and 8-day clocks, hand and under-the-hood klaxon horns, a variety of wind screens, rear view mirrors, radiator ornaments, seat covers, and a slew of technical products and parts needed to keep the car running.

Ford Car Accessories, 1916 Ford Car Accessories, 1916