Labeling America: Cigar Box Designs as Reflections of Popular Culture: The Story of George Schlegel Lithographers, 1849-1971Hardback
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- Publisher: Fox Chapel Publishing
- Format: Hardback | 320 pages
- Dimensions: 226mm x 282mm x 25mm | 1,610g
- Publication date: 15 March 2012
- Publication City/Country: East Petersberg
- ISBN 10: 1565235452
- ISBN 13: 9781565235458
- Illustrations note: full colour throughout, includes illustrations, includes photographs
- Sales rank: 1,065,861
"Labeling America: Cigar Box Designs as Reflections of Popular Culture" showcases the unique collection of John Grossman which covers 90 years of cigar box labels and bands printed by four generations of George Schlegel Lithographers. This book takes these beautifully printed slices of American culture and combines them with the history of chromolithography into an interesting story of America's changing tastes and graphic standards.
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John Grossman is one of the leading collectors of, and dealers in ephemera. His collection has grown to over 250,000 pieces. Articles on John, his collection and products designed by him, or under his direction, have appeared in USA Today among others.
From the mid-19th century, when color printing became economical, retail businesses and manufacturers of all kinds used it to sell their goods. Few industries were as enthusiastic about color reproduction (particularly chromo lithography, or "printing in colors from stones") as American cigar makers. The most prolific creator of cigar box labels was a family-owned printing company that changed names several times but was run by four successive generations of men named George Schlegel, who produced hundreds of cigar box labels, box trimmings, flaps and bands. Their immense output is featured in John Grossman's LABELING AMERICA: Popular Culture on Cigar Box Labels (Fox Chapel, $39.95). The John and Carolyn Grossman Collection of chromo lithography, housed at the Winterthur Museum in Delaware, includes 250,000 specimens of this early and often exquisite form of color printing - the high-definition medium of its day. The Schlegel archive's original art, proofs, embossing dies and litho stones are abundantly represented in this splendidly printed book. But the art is not the only point of interest. The text offers a brief history of how graphic design evolved from a sideline of printing into an integral profession. Among the most popular promotional genres, cigar labeling expanded throughout the late 19th century. "The popularity of cigars was big, but many of the cigar manufacturers were small," Grossman says of their inability to make custom labels. "The lithographers responded by creating myriad stock designs and titles that could be ordered by number." Schlegel's line of "sample labels" began in the 1880s, and many shown in the book are unaffiliated with any particular manufacturer. The art themes run the gamut from exotica (Monkey Brand) to erotica (Art Club, featuring a naked rump), from historical (Gettysburg) to hysterical (Tampa Fad, with a rooster smoking a cigar), from celebratorial (Mark Twain) to educational (Vassar Girl). Only a few are purely decorative. And some, like one titled "Two Friends" showing a woman shaking hands with a St. Bernard, are nonsensical. Yet all in all, they are amazing examples of commercial art. For anyone interested in printing history or aesthetic ephemera, not to mention cigar box art, this is a jewel of a book.
Back cover copy
In the late 19th and early 20th centuriees, more than 5 billion cigars were being sold in the United States via boxes with color labels despicting everything from women, animals, and sports icons to actors, heroes, and political figures. These cigar box labels were not only amusing and beatiful to admire; they were a testament to the printing process of chromolithography, and an important precursor to today's methods of product advertising. Labeling America: Popular Culture on Cigar Box Labels showcases the unique collection of artist and ephemera collector John Grossman, which covers 90 years of cigar box labels and bands printed by four generations of George Schlegel Lithographers. What makes this archive special is that the Schlegel company was one of the few lithography companies to keep meticulous sample albums and files showing an unbroken record of American graphic style evolution. Now housed at the Winterthur Museum in Delaware, the carefully cataloged Grossman Collection gives a glimpse into life at the turn of the century. This beautifully illustrated volume chronicles these printed slices of American culture and combines them with the history of chromolithography into an interesting story of America's changing tastes and graphic styles.
The John and Carolyn Grossman Collection the Grossman Collection, one of the world's largest collections of printed ephemera, now housed at the Winterthur Museum in Delaware, consists of roughly 250,000 items that document the print processes of lithography and chromolithography from approximately 1820 to 1920. The items and images in the collection include Christmas, valentine, and greeting cards; children's toys, books, and amusements; postcards and scrapbooks; product boxes; and textile samples- all portraying the ideals of Victorian and Edwardian life. A highlight of the collection is the close to 85,000 cigar box labels from American, Canadian, Cuban, and European companies, along with some 5,000 related items such as cigar bands, cigar boxes, embossing dies, lithographic stones, progressive proof books, and proof sheets. One of the most detailed facets of the Grossman Collection is the archive of the George Schlegel Lithographic Company, which specialized in cigar box label printing in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and is presented in this volume. This collection detailes the life of this company and its significant contribution to the literature on printing as well as American life and business. John Grossman Grossman is one of the leading collectors of printed ephemera. His many years of collecting began in 1974 with his first purchase of several antique postcards, labels, trade cards and valentines from a shop in Port Costa, CA. From there his collection kept growing to more than 250,000 pieces. The John and Carolyn Grossman Collection is now housed at Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library in Delaware, and is open to the public. In 1985, John and his wife, Carolyn, founded The Gifted Line, a giftware and licensing company well known for quality products designed from images in his collection. They operated The Gifted Line until 1998. Articles on John, his collection, and products designed by him or under his direction have appeared in Cigar Aficionado, Collector's Showcase, Gift & Stationary Business, Holiday Crafts, USA Today, Victoria, and a variety of other magazines and newspapers. A member of The Ephemera Society of America since 1981, and currently a member of the Board, John was the recipient o the 1990 Maurice Rickards Award presented by the Society for his promotion of the public awareness of ephemera.