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Schmitz, Dawn M. (2004) THE HUMBLE HANDMAID OF COMMERCE:CHROMOLITHOGRAPHIC ADVERTISING AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF CONSUMER CULTURE, 1876-1900. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Between 1876 and 1900, large numbers of manufacturers began to advertise more widely in an effort to create national markets for their products. They commissioned lithographic firms to produce chromolithographed cards, booklets, calendars, and posters, which were then distributed to stores, stuffed into packages, or tacked up on bill-posting boards. The enormous increase in visual advertising in the late nineteenth century, then, must be understood in the context of the production, distribution, and consumption of chromolithography. While chromolithographic advertising may not have had the cultivating and democratizing influence on American society that reformers believed it could, it did blend in with other cultural forms, thus integrating the discourse of visual advertising into everyday life across class boundaries. Produced under a complex, irrational, and inefficient system by men and women from many walks of life, it was a crucial component in the development of consumer culture. Not only were individual brands developed largely through chromolithography, but also the very idea of the brand was made intelligible during the chromo era. Chromolithographic advertisements drew upon existing cultural forms and visual vernaculars to communicate an ideology of consumption by visually articulating consumption to whiteness and citizenship—and elevating it to a position as the most significant realm of activity. With a large number of firms vying for advertising work, lithographers desperate to compete turned to independent artists with "original ideas" in order to distinguish themselves and thus help them land contracts. As a result, watercolor and pastel artists from a range of social positions, both women and men, were brought into the process of visual-advertising design. The lithographic craftsmen who printed, and also sometimes designed, the advertisements identified as both consumers and workers, while expressing dismay that their trade had become little more than the "humble handmaid" of advertisers.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Schmitz, Dawn M.dasst79@pitt.eduDASST79
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairStabile, Carolcstabile@pitt.eduCSTABILE
Committee MemberSterne, Jonathan
Committee MemberSavage, Kirk
Committee MemberZboray, Ronald
Date: 25 June 2004
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 16 April 2004
Approval Date: 25 June 2004
Submission Date: 27 April 2004
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Faculty of Arts and Sciences > Communication: Rhetoric and Communication
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: chromolithography; chromos; graphic art; Heinz; nineteenth century; trade cards; visual culture; commercial art; lithography
Other ID:, etd-04272004-142603
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:42
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:42


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