Salesman's samples of late Victorian prints and embossed die-cuts
Held at: University of Delaware Library Special Collections [Contact Us]181 South College Avenue, Newark, DE 19717-5267
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Delaware Library Special Collections. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Chromolithographic prints (commonly referred to as "chromos") were popular during the late Victorian era (1880s-1901). Chromolithography enabled publishers to produce aesthetically appealing images more efficiently and cheaply. Artists also strategically employed chromolithography as a promotional tool to disseminate color prints of their works into the public.
While most developments in chromolithography took place in Europe, the technique was quickly taken up by American printers and flourished. Lithographic firms populated all major cities. To fuel the public's taste for chromolithographs, printers developed catalogs that advertised assortments of images. Chromolithographs often featured idealized Victorian women, eroticized "exotic" women, scenes of uninhibited women with men, boisterous children, and sentimental subjects. When used for advertising, printers would commonly insert open spaces or fields in their designs, allowing for the printing of a name or logo of an advertising company. Prints were used as decorative wall hangings, on calendar covers, Christmas and greeting cards, cigar bands and boxes, wrappers, as well as games and novelty items.
Grafton, Carol Belanger. Full-Color Victorian Vignettes and Illustrations for Artists and Craftsmen. New York: Dover Publications, 1983.Hornung, Clarence P. and Fridolf Johnson. 200 Years of American Graphic Art: A Retrospective Survey of the Printing Arts and Advertising since the Colonial Period. New York: George Braziller, 1976.Marzio, Peter C. "The Democratic Art of Chromolithography in America: An Overview." In Art & Commerce: American Prints of the Nineteenth Century, proceedings of a Conference held at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 76-102. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1975."Victorian Sentimental Prints, Drawings & Watercolours." Victoria and Albert Museum. Accessed September 27, 2019. http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/v/victorian-sentimental-prints-and-drawings/. Information derived from dealer description.
The salesman's samples of late Victorian prints and embossed die-cuts consist of 150 chromolithographic posters and embossed, die-cut prints. The prints originally were housed in two large leather sample cases made by Mendel & Co. in Cincinnati, Ohio. An American salesman likely used the cases for travel across the country in order to display and sell chromolithographs to retailers and the general public. The collection includes 64 portraits of women, 20 comic scenes and portraits, 38 prints of babies and children, 4 prints of nude women, 22 genre and landscape scenes, and 2 black-and-white prints. While the majority of the prints were produced in Germany, other prints were made in France and America. On the verso, the bulk of the prints have an identifying number, a letter class, and a stamp that reads "for the K. -T. Company."
The majority of the prints in the collection that depict women and children reflect the aesthetic of the Victorian Sentimental, characterized by a focus on tender emotions and domestic or pastoral imagery. Eight of the portraits of women depict Middle Eastern or Japanese influences in costume and setting. The backgrounds of two of these prints in particular (numbers 30148 and 34042) are reminiscent of the design of James McNeill Whistler'sPeacock Room (1876-1877). Some of the prints in the collection contain elaborate, die-cut frames with scrollwork and vegetation that appear in style to reference Art Nouveau.
The collection has many duplicate prints, in which a frame and/or subject has been reprinted. In these cases, color, size, and surface finish varies. Some of the die-cut chromolithographs have holes punched out or open areas designed for hanging. Many of the prints have decorative, open spaces that could be imprinted with advertising names or logos. Over half of the prints are embossed.
At least two of the prints (numbers 2706 and 2707) were based on paintings. One of the collection's black-and-white lithographs pictures Jules Frédéric Ballavoine's 1890 paintingLes Indiscrets (listed as "Indiscreet Butterfly" on the print). While painted sources for the other portraits in the collection have not been located, some of these likely originated from Academic paintings of female subjects.
Chromolithographs are arranged within subject categories in order of the identifying number written on the back of each print. If there are duplicates for a given print, these have been grouped together. Folders 2.6, 3.6, and 4.2 contain smaller chromolithographs, arranged within subject categories in order of the identifying number written on the back of each print.
Boxes 1-4: Shelved in SPEC MSS oversize boxes (24 inches)
Items 1-2: Shelved in SPEC MSS oversize realia
An item-level inventory of the chromolithographs is available. Please contact manuscripts librarian for assistance.
Processed and encoded by Kristen Nassif, September-October, 2019.
- University of Delaware Library Special Collections
- Finding Aid Author
- University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
- Finding Aid Date
- 2019 October 9
- Access Restrictions
The collection is open for research.
- Use Restrictions
Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library, https://library.udel.edu/static/purl.php?askspec
Numbers 7512, 7514, and 7516 are duplicates.
Numbers 7513, 7515, 7517, and 7557 A are duplicates. Numbers 7520 and 7522 are duplicates.
Numbers 7540 and 7555 A are duplicates. Numbers 7557 B and 57016 are duplicates.
Numbers 10728 and 10813 are duplicates. Numbers 12451 and 12453 are duplicates.
Numbers 12533, 12534, and 12535 are duplicates. Numbers 28564 and 33561 are duplicates.
Numbers 47268 and 47270 are duplicates.
Numbers 33956 and 34520 are duplicates. Numbers 34042 and 34060 are duplicates.
Numbers 7568 and 57010 are duplicates.
Numbers 12523 and 12524 are duplicates.
Numbers 7067 and 7068 are duplicates.
Numbers 10676 and 10676 are duplicates.
Numbers 13856 and 13857 are duplicates.
Numbers 33844, 33921, 34164, and 34521 are duplicates.
Numbers 57005 and 57461 are duplicates.
Numbers 46975 and 47262 are duplicates.
Both suitcases have a label on the inside from the manufacturer with identifying numbers (1412 and 1599).