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

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“The Greek Slave” Cured By Elastic Hosiery 1914

Catalog, gallery
Why It's Interesting

This is a page from the 1914 catalog of the Hottinger Appliance Factory, of Chicago.  The catalog offers numerous styles of trusses and praises the soothing properties of elastic hosiery.  Eleven pages address and offer such hosiery, including knee caps, thigh stockings, elbow, arm, and hand pieces, bust supporters, and feminine-hygiene doily belts and napkins.

What struck me about this image though was that the figure looked familiar.  It proves almost identical to Hiram Power’s Greek Slave (1841), probably the most familiar sculpture in America in the mid-19th century.  Its use here would suggest that the statue’s renown continued into the 20th century.