Specimens of Theatrical Cuts: Being Fac-similes, in Miniature, of Poster Cuts … Ledger Job Printing Office, Public Ledger Building, Philadelphia, George W. Childs, Proprietor. J. E. Jackson, Business Manager. Philadelphia, 1869. Gift of S. Marguerite Brenner.
Some job printing firms specialized in specific genres of ephemera. The Ledger Job Printing Office, printing division of the Philadelphia Public Ledger, was a prominent producer of theatrical posters and related advertising, as well as being an early purveyor of chromolithographed trade cards, which were promoted as the “most effective mode of advertising ever adopted in the U.S.” Available to be printed at a cost of from eighteen to twenty dollars per thousand, these sample cards were among hundreds in this specimen book. They were not intended to be torn or cut out, but left intact as an illustration of the full range of design options available. As noted by the business manager in the preface, “we trust those into whose hands it may fall will appreciate it.”
Printers of trade cards produced stock images like those shown, as well as higher-priced custom designs like the Trymby furniture card in “Mass Production.” The cards remained a popular means of advertising through the 1880s. The commercial value of the palm-sized promotions ended with the rise of illustrated advertising on postal cards and in periodicals, newspapers, and catalogs as a result of the perfecting of reproductive photomechanical processes.