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Prints, Posters and Ephemera

A guide to prints, posters and ephemera at The Huntington.

Joseph E. Baker (1837-1914), Latest foreign fashions 1861The largest collection of prints and ephemera is devoted to 19th-century commercial lithographs: The Jay T. Last Collection of Graphic Arts and Social History. Its more than 200,000 items document the impact of lithography across Europe and the United States and represent the work of more than five hundred American printers. A gift in progress, this collection of commercial prints and ephemera is an important scholarly resource for studying the American histories of lithographic printing, business and social science, as well as for illustrating the evolution of commercial advertising, visual culture and graphic design. Key holdings include pre-1840 "lithographic incunabula" from Europe and the U.S., as well as myriad examples of American chromolithography from the second half of the 1800s.

The Last Collection is organized by subject categories, which you can see listed below. Please note that this is a growing collection--new items and new subject categories are added regularly. 

Image credit: Joseph E. Baker (1837-1914), Latest foreign fashions 1861, George L. Ide manufacturer & jobber of ladies outside garments cloaks mantillas, 1861. J.H. Bufford’s Lith. priJLC_FASH_001520, Jay T. Last Collection. Gift of Jay T. Last, 2005.  

Jay T. Last Collection of Graphic Arts and Social History

Agriculture Prints and Ephemera, approximately 1818-1924
Holding roughly 2,115 items, the collection provides information about American farming and agriculture-related industries, as well as the evolution of advertising strategies employed by these businesses in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Call number:priJLC_AGR

Artist Posters, 1883-1964
The bulk of the 370 prints in this collection date from 1890 to 1900 and advertise American literary books and periodicals. Bicycles, household goods and other products are also common themes. Notable artists represented in the collection include Will Bradley, Maynard Dixon, J. J. Gould, Edward Penfield, Ethel Reed and Louis Rhead.
Call number: priJLC_ART

Beverage Prints and Ephemera, approximately 1840-1949
Approximately 2,650 printed items advertising beverage products and related businesses in the United States from the 1840s to the 1940s. The prints depict beverage production, merchandising, advertising and consumption -- including depictions of families and other groups drinking together -- and the images provide a resource for studying the history of American beer, liquor, coffee, tea and carbonated beverage industries along with their advertising. 
Call number: priJLC_BEV

Education Prints and Ephemera, 1788-approximately 1930
With over 1,800 printed items related to education in the United States from 1788 to approximately 1930, the materials highlight institutions, products and services relating to personal knowledge, understanding, character building and moral and social qualities including the tools, equipment, supplies and structures used for learning and teaching these disciplines in the United States.
Call number: priJLC_EDU

Entertainment: Circus Prints and Ephemera, 1850s-1990s
A resource for studying the history of the American circus and its impact on popular entertainment and advertising in the 19th and 20th centuries, the collection holds more than 650 printed items. As graphic materials, the items offer evidence of the development of printmaking techniques and trends, and the artists, engravers, lithographers, printers and publishers involved in the creation of these prints.
Call number: priJLC_ENT_Circus

Entertainment: Performing Arts Prints and Ephemera1839-approximately 1940
Holding approximately 1,900 printed items primarily advertising theatrical and musical entertainment and related performers in the United States from 1839 to the 1940s, the collection provides a resource for studying the history of the American theater and the evolution of advertising strategies for the performing arts in the United States.
Call number: priJLC_ENT

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Entertainment: Theatrical Broadsides and Playbills, 1809-1923
This collection contains approximately 1,000 19th- and early 20th-century printed entertainment broadsides, playbills and related advertisements. These items advertise theatrical performances including plays, variety entertainment such as minstrel, burlesque and vaudeville shows and optical displays such as dioramas, living statues and tableaus.
Call number: priJLC_ENT_TBroadsides

Fairs and Expositions Prints and Ephemera, 1834-1970
The 1,900 items in this collection are primarily promotional and provide information about the history of fairs and expositions in the United States and their roles in both small and large communities, as well as the evolution of advertising strategies in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The collection also reflects America's progression from a rural agricultural society to an urban industrial environment and the technological innovations that developed during this transformation. 
Call number: priJLC_FAIR

Fashion Prints and Ephemera, approximately 1577-1943
This collection contains approximately 7,500 items dating from the 1570s to the early 1900s. The images are primarily promotional and provide information about the history of the American fashion, clothing, dry-goods and textile industries and the evolution of their advertising campaigns. 
Call number: priJLC_FASH

Fashion: Honig & Schutter Business Correspondence, 1884-1890
The Honig & Schutter business correspondence contains approximately 65 items that date from 1884 to 1890. The collection features billheads and related items sent to Honig & Schutter of Hazelton, Pennsylvania, that document merchandise for men and children purchased for resale by the company, including clothing; headwear; footwear and accessories such as men's collars, cuffs, neckwear, handkerchiefs and gloves. Over 35 wholesale dealers are represented in the collection. 
Call number:priJLC_FASH_Honig

Jay T. Last Collection of Fashion: William Hunt Business Ephemera, 1861-1916
A collection of promotional materials accumulated by jeweler William Hunt of Uniontown, Pennsylvania. Advertisements for household objects such as silverware, serving ware, utensils, toothpicks, pens and ornamental items are also included, as is a small number of advertisements for clothing and other fashion accessories. 
Call number: priJLC_FASH_Hunt 

Finance Prints and Ephemera, 1794-1926
The collection contains approximately 1,075 printed items from the United States dating from 1794 to 1926. The collection provides a look at the evolution of advertising strategies and contractual language in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The images on the insurance-related materials often include depictions of fires and natural disasters, providing a resource for studying the history of emergency response and firefighting during this era.
Call number: priJLC_FIN

Jay T. Last Collection of Firefighting Prints and Ephemera, 1826-1907
With more than 150 printed items that relate to firefighting and the activities and organizations of firemen in the United States from approximately 1820 to 1909, the collection is comprised of advertising and promotional materials, business records and illustrations produced for or about firefighting organizations, related social or charitable events and firefighting vehicles, equipment and supplies.
Call number: priJLC_FIRE  

Food Prints and Ephemera, approximately 1845-1964
Highlighting food production, merchandising, distribution, purveying and consumption, the collection holds approximately 4,950 printed items advertising food products and related businesses in the United States from the 1840s to the 1960s. The images provide a rich resource for studying the history of such American industries as canning, packaging and manufacturing along with the evolution of their advertising. 
Call number: priJLC_FOOD

Food: California Citrus Box Labels, 1880-1960
Consisting largely of lithographed labels produced for Southern Californian growers, packers and distributors to identify brand names and packing locations on wooden crates of oranges, lemons and grapefruits, the collection contains more than 1000 lithographed labels that relate to the California citrus industry in the United States. 
Call number: ephJLC_CIT

Food: Fruit and Vegetable Labels, approximately 1870-1975
The collection contains approximately 8,400 printed produce labels from the 1870s to the 1970s. Overall the collection identifies produce growers and merchandisers, reveals advertising trends and consumption habits, and provides a resource for studying the history of American fruit and vegetable production, including the canning, packing and shipping industries that evolved in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Many labels depict colorful images of fruits or vegetables, but pictures of women, children, animals, flowers and views of farms, orchards and vineyards also sold the product.
Call number: priJLC_FOOD_FtVeg

Horticulture Prints and Ephemera, 1840-1933
The collection contains approximately 1,425 printed items from 1840 to 1933. The collection's prints and ephemera are primarily promotional and provide information about American fruit, vegetable, seed and flower-related industries, as well as the evolution of advertising strategies employed by these businesses in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Materials in this collection also provide a perspective on American aesthetic sensibilities during this period, as many of these prints were offered as decorative items as well as advertisements.
Call number: priJLC_HORT

Horticulture: Page Seed Company Business Correspondence, 1897-1956
The collection contains approximately 225 business records spanning the late 1890s through the 1950s. The majority of the collection features correspondence to and from the Page Seed Company of Greene, New York, that documents the company's sourcing and selling of seeds for fruit, vegetables, flowers and herbs, along with the supplies necessary to package and sell them.
Call number: priJLC_HORT_Page

Household Prints and Ephemera, approximately 1835-1921
The collection contains over 7,800 printed items advertising household products and related businesses in the United States from the 1830s to the 1920s. The collection supports various fields of research relating to home decorating, housekeeping, laundering and washing, including products used to adorn interiors and exteriors, clean and maintain clothes, polish and preserve household objects, tidy living spaces and cleanse the human body. The images provide a resource for studying American domesticity and related industries, along with the evolution of advertising strategies.
Call number: priJLC_HHD

Maritime Prints and Ephemera, 1704-approximately 1942
The collection contains approximately 1,150 printed items that pertain to travel, shipping and other maritime-related activities and businesses in the United States. The images are primarily promotional and provide information about the history of passenger travel and commercial shipping, as well as the advertising strategies employed by these industries. 
Call number: priJLC_MAR

Medicine Prints and Ephemera, approximately 1750-approximately 1929
The collection contains over 4,000 printed items related to medical, dental and vision products and services in the United States from approximately 1750 to 1929. It deals with medical and drug-related merchandising, advertising and practice including the tools, equipment and supplies used in the medical field in the United States and covers the wide and varied assortment of patent medicines that proliferated during this time. The images provide a rich visual resource for studying the history of American medical practitioners, methods and materials, as well as a perspective on common ailments and illnesses.
Call number: priJLC_MED

Military Prints and Ephemera, 1785-1966
The collections contain approximately 4,900 printed items from 1785 to 1966. The collection mainly includes prints and ephemera related to the American Civil War, both contemporaneous and commemorative. The American Revolutionary War, the Mexican-American War and the Spanish-American War are also represented. The images are primarily documentary or patriotic and provide information about the American military, as well as the evolution of advertising strategies employed by businesses during periods of conflict. 
Call number: priJLC_MIL

Personal Care Prints and Ephemera, approximately 1832-approximately 1931
Approximately 865 printed items illustrate grooming and personal care in the United States from approximately 1832 to 1931. Items depict products and services relating to grooming, cleansing and preserving one's hair, scalp, skin or teeth to promote individual hygiene or to beautify one's appearance. Materials focus on consumer goods or acts of assistance that do not require medical direction to purchase or use.
Call number: priJLC_PC 

Politics and Social Issues Prints and Ephemera, approximately 1802-1952
The collection of approximately 400 printed items highlights both well-known and less recognized American political figures and activists along with social causes and issues often linked to political activities, most notably the temperance movement. The images provide a visual resource for studying the history of American governance of citizens including national, state and local laws, issues, elections, and causes, as well as a perspective on portraiture, caricatures and political cartoons. 
Call number: priJLC_POL

Printing and Publishing: Louis Prang Archive, 1858-1918
Dating from 1858 to 1916, this archive of over 3,600 individual items chronicles the business history of Boston lithographer Louis Prang through art prints, advertisements, printed volumes, and promotional ephemera produced by L. Prang & Co. and its successor companies: Prang Educational Company and Taber Prang Art Co. The collection provides a resource for studying the business and output of one of the most influential lithographic firms in the United States in the 19th century. The images provide information about American tastes and culture as well as advertising strategies.  
Call number: priJLC_PRG

Religion Prints and Ephemera, approximately 1828-approximately 1921
Containing approximately 60 printed items related to beliefs and practices usually involving devotional and ritual observances concerning God, the creation of the universe, spirituality and the moral conduct of human affairs, these prints were made and used in the United States from approximately 1828 to 1921. Especially noteworthy are eight woodcuts and hand-colored Pennsylvania-German certificates of birth and baptism dating from 1837 to 1853 (priJLC_002917-002923 and priJLC_004970), mostly printed and/or handwritten in German. They relate to illuminated Fraktur drawings popular in Pennsylvania-German culture.  The images are a visual resource for studying American interpretations of Bible stories and figures common during this period.
Call number: priJLC_REL

Science Prints and Ephemera, approximately 1843-approximately 1921
Dating from 1843 to 1921, the collection deals with products, services, activities and imagery relating to the pursuit of knowledge by observation and/or experimentation in the fields of physical science: astronomy, chemistry, earth science, ecology, oceanography and physics; life science: biology, botany and zoology; and pseudoscience: astrology, alchemy, occult beliefs and phrenology. Notable items include a complete set of 15 astronomical drawing prints by E. L. Trouvelot published by Charles Scribner's Sons in 1882.
Call number: priJLC_SCI

Transportation Prints and Ephemera, 1826-approximately 1911
This collection holds more than 730 printed items that relate to land-based modes of transportation primarily in the United States from the 1820s to the early 1900s. Touching on topics of transportation, commerce and manufacturing, technology and engineering, travel and tourism and geography, the images are primarily promotional and provide information about the history of the American railroad, bicycle and horse-drawn vehicle industries in advertising. 
Call number: priJLC_TRAN

Transportation: N.N. Hill Brass Company Business Correspondence, 1892-1919
The N. N. Hill Brass Company was a bell manufacturing company in East Hampton, Connecticut. Dating from the early 1890s through the 1910s, there are approximately 770 pieces of incoming correspondence and some related documents that focus on the company's manufacture, advertisement and sale of bicycle bells, and their involvement with the bicycle industry and related trade associations and bicycle clubs. 
Call number: priJLC_TRAN_Hill

Transportation: Railroad Passes, 1848-1980
Railroad passes provided the holders with permission to ride on the railroad, usually through the end of the calendar year, and the passes in the collection bear a variety of titles including annual pass, season ticket, time pass, free ticket, exchange ticket and complimentary ticket. The decorative details of the passes vary across the collection, though most examples from the late 19th century and early 20th centuries contain engraved or lithographed designs and images. American railroad companies issued the majority of passes primarily for annual travel on commercial passenger lines.
Call number: priJLC_TRAN_Passes  

Transportation: Railroad Stock and Bond Certificates, 1835-1976
This collection consists of more than 1,100 railroad stock and bond certificates primarily issued by American railroad companies to individuals in the 19th and 20th centuries. Visual decorations include ornate patterned borders, embossed corporate and gold seals, logos and vignettes primarily depicting railroad locomotives and trains, as well as landscapes and views of the American frontier, eagles, Columbia, Native Americans, farmers, miners, political surveyors, wheat bundles and portraits of political figures and railroad company executives.
Call number: priJLC_TRAN_Stocks

View Prints, 1824-1913
View prints are rich resources for the study of American printing history, visual culture and social history. The collection offers evidence of the development of printmaking techniques and trends, and the artists, engravers, lithographers, printers and publishers involved in the creation of these prints. As a visual historical record, this collection provides documentary evidence of the interplay between individuals and their environments, and their perceptions and interpretations of their surroundings.
Call number: priJLC_VIEW

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