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


Trade Magazine 1894: beautiful graphics

gallery, Magazine


Why It's Interesting

I am trying to acquire examples of many rare serial titles.  It is astonishing–though well documented–how many titles appeared during the late 19th century, certainly tens of thousands, and possibly many many more.  New printing technology let any interested group or field publish sophisticated journals.

I am especially interested in obscure titles from Eastern Pennsylvania because Winterthur Library, to which I am giving my collection, is in easy driving distance, and these local journals should draw scholars from that area not necessarily interested in Winterthur’s core Material Culture holdings.

I am still unable to scan properly, so this is another example of an item that I have been sitting upon for some time.

Trade Magazine 1894: beautiful graphics Trade Magazine 1894: beautiful graphics