The Art of Advertising: an exhibition in waiting. Blog post 1
Sadly, The Art of Advertising closed, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, just 12 days after it opened. While awaiting events (and, we hope, its re-opening) we are bringing you a series of blog posts featuring the exhibits, with additional contextualisation drawing on related material in the John Johnson Collection.
One of the three principal themes of the exhibition is Printing and we were very fortunate to draw on the expertise of Prof. Michael Twyman for the descriptions of printing processes in the first case, which is devoted to the major printing techniques used in the 18th century to the 1930s (the period of the exhibition). Michael also identified the printing processes of all the 230 exhibits.
The other exhibition themes are the birth of Commercial Art and advertising as a resource for social history.
Lotteries End for Ever
This poster combines a striking woodcut image with lettering cut on wood in imitation of the latest display types of the period.
Woodcutting is the oldest of the processes used for printing images. Parts of a wood block are removed by gouges and knives, leaving the areas to be printed standing in relief so that they can be inked and printed under pressure on a press. Though woodcutting was capable of refined images, by the early 19th century it was mainly used, as in this example, for relatively crude popular work. Wood blocks were capable of withstanding long print runs and could be printed along with type.
Lottery advertising was often innovative, incorporating printed colour (as here), hand-colouring, Congreve compound plate printing (fig. 3), stick men, verse, acrostics, etc. The last state lottery was drawn on 18 July 1826. The John Johnson Collection includes an extensive collection of lottery bills, all digitised and available through our ProQuest project (free in the UK).
At Christmas or New Year, in the hope of a gratuity, bellmen and lamplighters distributed verses, known generically as Bellmen’s verses. There are some 132 of these in the John Johnson Collection. Minimal records can be seen on our online catalogue (Browse: set scrollbar to Shelfmarks: type Bellmen).
Other examples of images of bellmen in advertising, include the following.