The Birth of the Christmas Card, 1843.

Cultures have enjoyed sharing written New Year’s greetings for centuries. The English-speaking ritual of sending holiday cards, however, dates back only to the middle of the 19th century.
Some sources say it originated with Thomas Shorrock, of Leith, Scotland, who, in the 1840s, produced cards showing a jolly face with the caption “A Gude Year to Ye.” a Guid New Year
Credit more commonly goes to Sir Henry Cole, who would later become the first director of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.
He commissioned an artist to create 1,000 engraved holiday cards in 1843. Cole’s greeting featured a prosperous-looking family toasting the holidays, flanked on both sides by images of kindly souls engaging in acts of charity.
A caption along the bottom read, “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You.”

The world’s first commercially produced Christmas card, designed by John Callcott Horsley for Henry Cole in 1843
With advances in printing technology and mail service, the practice of sending commercially produced Christmas cards caught on.
By the 1880s, it was an integral part of the holiday season for many American families as well. In “The Female World of Cards and Holidays: Women, Families, and the Work of Kinship,” Yale anthropologist Micaela di Leonardo explains that the practice thrived amid postbellum industrialization and the demise of the family farm.
As relatives spread out geographically, women assumed responsibility for “the work of kinship” and became caretakers of extended family connections. Christmas cards were a convenient way for them to nurture relationships among their husbands, children, and distant relatives.
As the Christmas card habit took hold, manufacturers rushed to meet demand. Best known was German emigrant Louis Prang, who produced attractive and reasonably priced chromolithographed cards for the mass market. He is often referred to as the father of the American Christmas card.
Not all manufacturers were as concerned with quality. Many of them relied on trite and overly sentimental images to decorate their greetings.
In 1885, The Decorator and Furnisher magazine criticized the industry for its ubiquitous imaginings of “pantaletted young ones” singing in snowstorms and “angels floating in mid-air bearing a baby.
 Such tiresome subjects, the article lamented, created “no agreeable sensations.” Also troublesome were the poor production values.
That same year, The Art Amateur magazine faulted a British manufacturer for offering a card that featured the image of a cherub whose head was “too intangibly connected with her body even for a disembodied spirit.”
Industry critics predicted that the American public would soon tire of Christmas cards. But then, in the early 1900s, improvements in image reproduction technology allowed the greeting-card market to surge to new heights.
In 1900, The British Medical Journal applauded a new series of Christmas cards with “platino-panel reproductions” that resembled photographic prints. The variety of subjects featured on the new cards also increased—sporting themes, landscapes, and patriotic drawings of men in regimental uniforms.
Read on via A Brief History of the Holiday Card | JSTOR Daily

The Art of the Printed Book Through Time.

gutenberg-bible-2-web
This facsimile of the Gutenberg Bible is one of several pieces of “The Art of the Printed Book Through the Centuries” exhibit at the Garnett Library on the Missouri State University-West Plains campus.
The exhibit, which features pieces from the collection at The St. Louis Mercantile Library, was brought to campus through The Missouri Center for the Book with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. (Missouri State-West Plains Photo)
a-freshly-printed-page
via Exhibit at Garnett Library details the history of the book arts, printing – Missouri State University-West Plains.

Albrecht Pfister, Printer and Publisher c.1400s.

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Daniel in the lion’s den, from the Historie von Joseph, Daniel, Judith und Esther (Bamberg: Albrecht Pfister, 1462), f.19r. JRL 9375.
Pfister is an even more shadowy figure than Johann Gutenberg, and what is known of him comes from analysis of the nine editions he is generally thought to have printed.
Trained as a cleric, he worked in Bamberg, Germany, and by 1460 he was acting as secretary to the prince-bishop of the city.
As a printer he is credited with being responsible for two innovations in the use of the new technology: printing books in the German language, and printing woodcut illustrations at the same time as the type.
He produced the first printed editions of popular German stories, Der Ackermann aus Boehmen, a poetic dialogue between the ‘Ploughman’ and ‘Death’ who has deprived him of his young wife, and a collection of fables entitled Der Edelstein.
The John Rylands Library holds the only complete examples in Britain of books printed by Pfister, including his Historie von Joseph, Daniel, Judith und Esther and the Biblia Pauperum of 1462.
via First Impressions | Albrecht Pfister.

Chromatic Wood Type and Borders 1874.

Specimens of Chromatic Wood Type and Borders (1874)
Some select pages from the exquisite Specimens of Chromatic Wood Type, Borders, Etc. (1874), a specimen book produced by the William H. Page wood type company.
Chromatic types, which were made to print in two or more colours, were first produced as wood type by Edwin Allen, and shown by George Nesbitt in his 1841 Fourth Specimen of Machinery Cut Wood Type.
It is William H Page’s book, however, that is considered to be the highpoint of chromatic wood type production.
As well as providing over 100 pages of brilliantly coloured type, the book can also be seen, at times, to act as some sort of accidental experimental poetry volume, with such strange snippets as “Geographical excursion knives home” and “Numerous stolen mind” adorning its pages.
One wonders whether the decisions about what words to feature and in what order were entirely arbitrary.
Thanks to the wonderful Bibliodyssey blog where we came across the book: visit the post there for more info on the book and a great list of related links.

Source: Specimens of Chromatic Wood Type and Borders (1874) – The Public Domain Review

Fish Market Trade Cards.

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$_57Although several nice versions of this Prichard & Knoll trade card with novelty fish lettering were produced in the later 19th century, you might say they are now endangered.
These two came from the same dealer and recently sold at auction for handsome sums. They are equally nice, however the first card has much finer detail held in the rainbow trout artwork and fish lettering.
It was printed by Stahl & Jaeger Artistic Lithographers in NYC. The second card has the name reversed and several alternate letters, along with some clever wave-like handlettered text with flourishes below the fish which add to its appeal.
They each have an eel ampersand.
Directly below is another unrelated trade card from 1871 with similar novelty lettering of fish.
This particular card from Fisher Ice Boxes and Refrigerators of Chicago, found here, is sporting an amphibious eel for the letter S. Although this Fisher card is nowhere near as elaborate as the two above, the artist did provide some level of detail to the three-colored fish.
I guess the imaginative art of fish lettering requires a fine line and some reel angling, just like fishing.
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via Letterology: The Biggest Catch of Fish Lettering.

Raid on the Queensland Government Printing Office.

Following Australia’s entry into the first World War, thousands of Queenslanders enlisted in the military to go and fight in Europe.
However, as the war dragged on and it became evident that victory would not be achieved quickly or easily, the initial enthusiasm for the conflict waned and recruitment rates began to decline.
The British government, needing fresh manpower to bolster its reserves in France, pressured the Australian federal government to send more reinforcements. The federal government, led by Billy Hughes, did not have the numbers to legislate for compulsory military service.
The Queensland government had originally been mildly supportive of the notion of conscription, but with election of a Labor government led by T. J. Ryan in 1915, the government’s stance hardened by late 1916, as the position of the party’s rank-and-file membership swung decisively to opposing compulsory service.
This opposition was not welcomed by Hughes, and Ryan was the only state premier to openly oppose the federal government on the issue.
The federal government responded to this anti-conscription sentiment in the community with a series of censorship measures, which permitted the federal government to censor speech which in their view would have interfered with the war effort. Some of these censorship measures were unorthodox even for the time.
Premier Ryan and Treasurer Ted Theodore, finding the situation intolerable, decided to counteract the actions of censor Jeremiah Stable by reading out some of the banned material on the floor of state Parliament, working that parliamentary privilege would allow Hansard containing the material to be distributed.
Travelling to Brisbane ostensibly to address a public meeting, Hughes arrived late at night with Stable and a detachment of soldiers at the Queensland Government Printing Office, seizing all 3,300 printed copies of Hansard, along with all of the type.
Hughes then informed Ryan that while there was “nothing worth censoring” in his own speeches, the anti-conscription materials of Theodore and his fellow minister John Fihelly were objectionable and would not be allowed to be distributed.
Hughes also informed the Government Printer, A. J. Cummings not to publish any further copies of the Hansard. Cummings was an ardent conscriptionist, and disclosed to Hughes that Ryan had ordered him to ignore any censorship instructions that he might receive, and that if the Army were to attempt to enter the printing office by force, that the Queensland Police would “offer every assistance in their power” to prevent them from doing so.
Upon learning this, an alarmed Stable, not wanting the situation to descend into violence, cabled Hughes and asked if there were any way to solve the problem without resorting to armed force.[10]
The following day, 27 November, Ryan demanded an explanation from Hughes for the seizure of Hansard, and for the failure of the postal service to transmit copies of the Hansard to subscribers. He also had a special issue of the Government Gazette issued that described the situation, and gave a general description of the contents of the Hansard, without giving any specific details that might fall afoul of the censor.
Hughes responded, taking responsibility for both actions, accusing Ryan of publishing a document that was “a Hansard in name only”, and putting Ryan on notice that “if some of the statements published in your so-called Hansard are repeated outside (of parliamentary privilege), I shall know how to deal with them”.
Now read on via Source: Raid on the Queensland Government Printing Office – Wikipedia