Cigar box labels in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were not only amusing and beautiful to admire, they were a testament to the printing process of chromolithography and an important precursor to today’s methods......more
Cigar box labels in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were not only amusing and beautiful 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: 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. What makes this archive unique is that the Schlegel Company kept meticulous sample albums and files showing an unbroken record of American graphic style evolution. The work of many other lithographers of that era either destroyed or irreversibly dispersed their work.
Now housed at the Winterthur Museum in Delaware, the carefully cataloged Grossman collection gives a glimpse into life at the turn of the century, when over 5 billion cigars were being sold in the United States via boxes with colorful labels depicting everything from women, animals, and sports icons to actors, heroes, and political figures. 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.
John Grossman is one of the leading collectors of, and dealers in ephemera. His collection which is currently on loan to the Winterthur Museum in Delaware began in 1974 with his first purchase of some postcards, labels, trade cards, and valentines from a shop in Port Costa, CA. From there his collection kept growing to over 250,000 pieces.
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 & Stationery 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 of the 1990 Maurice Rickards Award presented by the Society for his promotion of the public awareness of ephemera.
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