When Saul Zalesch comes to town…

WillBradley0001The staff of the Winterthur Library was pleased to host a recent visit from one of our most generous donors, Saul Zalesch. Saul has been donating rare and unusual items from his vast collection of American ephemera for the past three years. His relationship with Winterthur, however, dates as far back as the early 1990s, when he spent six months as a research fellow here. Now a professor of art history at Louisiana Tech University, Saul was eager to visit the library and finally meet face-to-face the staff and volunteers who have aided in the cataloging and processing of his donations. Upon his arrival, he presented the library with a donation of more than a dozen of the finest items from his collection.

Here are a few highlights:

RWallace0001This 1892 booklet serves both as a catalog for the Michigan Stove Company, advertising elaborate cast iron ranges and stoves, and as a compilation of healthful recipes and points on etiquette. Most notable, perhaps, is the art nouveau cover designed by American illustrator and artist Will H. Bradley. The ‘R. Wallace’ Book: Table Settings and Social Convention for Every Occasion, by Winnifred S. Fales, is a trade catalog of silver tableware from the firm of R. Wallace & Sons Manufacturing Co. of Wallingford, Connecticut, doubles as a source of “correct social convention.” Author Winnifred Fales wrote numerous books on home decorating and entertaining in the early 20th century.

While the Winterthur Library has a strong collection of books and trade catalogs on personal beauty and cosmetics, this booklet, Poro Hair & Beauty Culture (1922), will be the first that is relatable for African-Americans. It was published by Annie M. Pope Turnbo-Malone, who had formulated a hair straightener she called “Wonderful Hair Grower.” The success of this product led ultimately to the founding of Poro College in 1917, the first U.S. educational institution for black cosmetology. As the booklet notes, “Poro College is consecrated to the uplift of humanity—race women in particular.”


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4 Responses to When Saul Zalesch comes to town…

  1. Bill & Elaine Pease says:

    Wow! Beautiful things! Thanks, Mr.Zalesch.

    Elaine and I share your vital interest in Winterthur. We’ve visited the museum at least a hundred times in the past 40 years.

  2. Ezekiel Guthrie says:

    Incredible article! Very informative and superb!

  3. Nicely said….. I had no idea how beautifully illustrated something as simple as a hair product could be displayed.

  4. Linda Jones says:

    I have been looking for this booklet – Poro Hair and Beauty Culture. Do you know where I can get a copy for the Annie Malone Historical Society?

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