Ephemera Journal, Volume 9
Ephemera Society has published volume nine of Ephemera Journal.
Containing three articles with more than 90 color and black-and-white
illustrations, the Journal is free to members and costs them just
$15 for extra copies; for those who have not as yet joined the society,
the Journal is $18.00. Postage is an extra $1.50.
The first article is entitled "Chromolithography and the Cigar
Label: Sometimes the Label was Better than the Cigar." Author
John Grossman has worked as a graphic designer and a lettering and
design instructor, served on the California Arts Commission, and
is the proprietor of The Gifted Line, a company that makes gift
wrap and other paper products. John has a wonderful collection of
paper ephemera that he began to assemble in the early 1970s. He
received the Ephemera Society's Maurice Rickards Award in 1990 and
delivered the initial Rickards Lecture at the English ephemera society's
twenty-fifth anniversary celebration in June 2000.
John sketches the history of the cigar beginning with Christopher
Columbus, who learned about it from American Indians and took it
back to Spain. In America, cigar smoking grew steadily until the
late 1800s when the emergence of a large and prosperous middle class
provided a significant market for the product. Advertisers contracted
with chromolithographers to produce advertising labels and, as a
result, established a new printed art form. By the 1880s and 1890s,
there was a profusion of colorful labels, and in the decades that
followed, the designers and printers of cigar labels perfected their
art and technology. With the decline in use of chromolithography
beginning about 1920, the quality of cigar labels likewise declined.
John concludes that the popularity of cigar smoking during the
late nineteenth century helped lead to the commercial perfection
The second article is by Sandra Markham, librarian at the Albany
Institute of History and Art. Earlier in her career, Sandra was
archivist at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale
and museum registrar at Memorial Art Gallery, University of Rochester.
Sandra's article is entitled "Living Preachers, Through Voiceless
Lips: The Art of Selling Seeds and Plants, 1840-1920."
Sandra focuses on the printing businesses in Rochester, New York,
that produced catalogs, illustrations, magazines, and other items
issued to advertise the products of local nurserymen. There were
many opportunities for printers to stay busy producing these publications
since Rochester was at one time the horticultural center of the
United States. It was nicknamed the "Flower City." In
the 1870s alone, there were thirty-one nurseries, dealers, or seed
merchants in town, and in the surrounding county, there were twenty-six
Nurserymen and printers were dependent upon each other for their
livelihoods, and as Sandra points out, "their individual ambitions
spurred each other's growth and achievements."
Thomas Beckman is the author of Ephemera Journal's third
article, "North American Cameo Stamps, 1850-1880." Tom
is a longtime member of the Ephemera Society; his name appears in
our 1981 membership directory. An accomplished speaker, Tom gave
a talk entitled "Japanese Influences on American Trade Card
Imagery and Design, 1875-1890" at the Societys 1992 conference
that was later published in volume seven of Ephemera Journal.
Tom is currently the registrar of The Historical Society of Delaware,
Tom adds to the information presented in the Ephemera Society's
publication, Cameo Cards & Bella C. Landauer, a booklet
that illustrates 200 nineteenth century business cards, some embossed
in a manner reminiscent of bas-relief cameo gemstones. Having seen
nearly 2,500 cameos thus far, Tom identifies more than sixty of
their designers and makers in the United States and Canada. In addition,
he includes a five-part definition of cameos--or "stamps"
as they were called originally--suggests several sources from which
they derived, explains how they were simultaneously color-printed
and embossed from brass and gutta-percha dies, examines their major
design subsets along with a number of variants, comments on the
careers of some of the diesinkers who made them, and speculates
on their demise.
John Grossman and Sandra Markham presented their papers at the
Ephemera Society's fifth symposium in Williamsburg, Virginia, in
1995. Tom Beckman's originally gave his paper as a talk at Ephemera
20, the society's 2000 conference, in Old Greenwich, Connecticut.
The articles in volume nine of Ephemera Journal are indexed
in America: History and Life, an online and published resource
issued by the American Bibliographic Center-CLIO Press, Santa Barbara,
E. Richard McKinstry
[This article originally appeared in the Northeast
Journal of Antiques & Art.]