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Newest Nineteenth Century Art Form Chromolithography Appeared also in Garden Advertising

With the rise of the steam-powered printing press after 1850, more books, magazines, and newspapers became available.

Mass education in America also increased the need for more publications.

Chromolithography as an art form soon caught on in the advertizing industry.  Seed company and nursery owners also included chromos in the catalog to feature certain plants in this new form of colored image within its pages.   Customers loved it.

A chromo of the native grape called Pocklington  in Gardener’s Monthly of 1881 [courtesy of Chest of Books].
Philadelphia nurseryman Thomas Meehan wrote in his magazine Gardener’s Monthly of July 1881: “We are glad to note the increasing use of chomo-lithography in advertising.  Mr. Henderson, Mr. Dreer…and more recently Mr. Stone with the Pocklington grape have set an example that we are sure must soon have many followers. A plate colored to nature will tell more at a glance than a half-hour studying  of a more verbal description.”

The illustration would sell the seed or plant more quickly than any words could.

Meehan was right.

By the end of the century seed and nursery catalogs could boast of the latest colored plate to demonstrate how current the company was in its marketing.

Meehan wrote in that same 1881 issues of GM: “It is of course costly to take a page of advertising in the shape of a colored plate, but we are sure that Mr. Stone’s advertisement will pay him.”

As is the case with the growth of social media today, a new media form emerged at that time, unlike any other before it: photography.

By the early twentieth century photography would replace chromolithography .

But when chromos were popular, they were the sensation of advertising for any product, including what new seed or plant you needed to have for the garden.

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