Thursday, May 31, 2012

What’s Your Type?

Centennial Cabinet, Eureka Press, Empire Press Co., N.Y.

 Recently the Print Department acquired three Centennial Cabinets, sets of quirky souvenir cards printed in color on site at the Centennial Exhibition of 1876. Manufacturers Empire Press Co., Degener & Weiller, and Greenwood & Batley used the promotional “post cards” to promote their platen printing presses, presses geared toward job work, such as cards and handbills.

Interior of Machinery Hall

Although produced to showcase the superiority of the press on display, most of the cards, which primarily depict exhibition building exteriors, are not fine specimens. Captions are missing letters, names of buildings are misspelled, and layers of colors are misaligned for the sake of unmonitored mass production.

New Hampshire State Building
English Government Building
Ironically, the prints are most engaging to the modern-day viewer for just these reasons. Despite the flaws, the cards surely also brought a smile to the fair visitors who purchased them, as they did me.

Erika Piola
Associate Curator, Prints and Photographs

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