Dr. Josiah Brigg’s Sure Corn Cure/Bunion Balsam/Pile Remedies. Uncut proof sheet of labels, ca. 1885. Photomechanical print. Gift of William H. Helfand.
Multiple or variant copies of prints on a single sheet in conjunction with cutting machinery fostered the efficient mass production of small-scale ephemera like labels. The development of photomechanical prints like these “hidden image” popular medicine labels also hastened the production time through streamlined steps for touch-ups. During the later 19th century, these interactive puzzle designs reflective of the Victorian’s fascination with “hidden” meanings were a popular advertising scheme, but usually on trade cards. Do you see the hidden figures?