Specimens album. Philadelphia, ca. 1852-ca. 1876. Gift of Margaret Robinson.
Printers often preserved specimens and proofs of their own and their colleagues’ work for reference, creative inspiration, and as personal models of excellence. The majority of the work in this volume was printed by the Philadelphia lithographic firm Stein & Jones and was likely compiled by a printer employed at the men’s shop. In addition to the label specimens seen here, the album contains sheet music, book illustrations, certificates, checks, collecting and trade cards, and other financial and advertising ephemera in various states of completion in the composition, printing, and color process.
With the commercial development of the patent medicine trade, liquor distilleries, and the canning industry in the United States during the antebellum period, labels became even more of a mainstay of the job work of printers. As chromolithography improved by the 1860s, lithographic printers usually produced the colorful eye-catching and brand-making labels on the product packaging.