Written by Alli Hames
Until the mid 1800’s “poster art” as we know it did not exist. Today poster art is regarded as highly collectible, revealing insight into the particular culture in which it was created. Since the 1800’s, poster art has been selling everything from Pairs Soap to Missing Persons.
It is believed that in ancient Greece and Rome, large advertisements for plays, gladiatorial combats and other important public notices were painted on walls. Fast forward to the 17th and 18th century and printed announcements in the form of cards or bills advertising tradesmen, performances, lectures, politics, medicine and much more are passed from hand to hand. It was at this time that wealthy members of society carried cards baring their surname, with the intent to leave the card after making one of their many “social calls”.
At some point during this time someone thought it would be more efficient to paste these hand bills to one of the many post that lined the streets of a city, the idea took. And that is where the origin of the word ‘poster’ begins.
It was not until Charles Dickens published his acclaimed novel Nicolas Nickleby that the word ‘poster’ made it into the English dictionary.
And that concludes Part I of this history lesson.
*Coming up. Poster Art History Lesson: Part II, Those Crazy Victorian’s and Edwardian’s.
Don’t worry we will get to the history of Rock & Roll posters in Part III 😉
~Just for fun here is a naughty Victorian lady…
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This blog post is all about my meeting with Scott B. Montgomery, Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Denver in Colorado.
I met Scott during my recent trip to San Francisco for the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love (when thousands of young hippies descended on that city to celebrate life, music and their blossoming culture).