by Richard McKinstry

If it were not for chromolithography many items that we consider ephemeral would not exist. Trade cards, die cuts or scraps, bookplates, calendars, greeting cards, prints, sheet music, rewards of merit, and other forms of paper ephemera were all produced using the chromolithographic process. The first chromo in the United States, a portrait of Rev. F.W.P. Greenwood, came from William Sharp's printing shop in Boston in 1840. By the mid-1860s, New York had become the center of chromolithography, and ten years later most of the larger cities in the U.S. had printers who could produce chromolithographs. The most successful chromolithographer of the nineteenth century was Louis Prang. His company found a receptive audience during the Civil War when the public demanded depictions of battle scenes. Afterward, Prang published a wide variety of chromos, showing birds and butterflies as well as fine art reproductions from the works of noted artists of the day.

   © 2011 The Ephemera Society of America