Print Collection

Reading and Libraries Poster Collection

Public libraries : an American contribution to civilization : 50 years, American Library Association, 1876-1926 / E.A. Spuehler.

C1:229
Ca. 1920–1960s
30 posters

The American Library Association (ALA) is the oldest and largest library association in the world. The organization traces its roots to a meeting held in New York City in 1853, but was not formally organized until October 6, 1876, at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. The association aimed to “enable librarians to do their present work more easily and at less expense,” according to the ALA website.

Throughout ALA’s history, the organization has taken a proactive approach to library issues and has used graphic media to reach the public. In the early twentieth century, ALA used poster art, not only to encourage reading and support of libraries, but to encourage the war effort during World War I and II.

In addition to the posters produced by the ALA, this collection also contains posters promoting reading with colorful graphics with no known publisher. The posters have been cataloged and digitized and can be viewed through the Library’s catalog.


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World War I German Postcards

C1:186
547 unique postcards

Wattweiler Strassenansicht [Wattweiler street view], Nr. 2563

The Library of Virginia’s Visual Studies Collection has a collection of German postcards depicting non-combat scenes from World War I’s Western Front. Printed by Schaar & Dathe of Trier, the postcards show the effects of war through images of ruins, life in the camps, and the cleanup efforts of soldiers and civilians.

Guiscard, Nr. 2552

One of the biggest German postcard printers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Schaar & Dathe used letterpress, lithograph, and collotype processes. During WWI, the company had 15 presses and employed 150 workers. The majority of the cards have a four-digit number on the back, a unique identification system set up by Schaar & Dathe. Creating postcards during the war was an easy, affordable way to spread the news visually about the areas most affected by combat.

The collection can be viewed in the Special Collections Reading Room.  A selection is available on Historypin

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World War I Poster Collection

C1:183
1914–1919
44 posters

Do your duty join the U.S. Marines : help them defend America on land and sea.

When the United States entered World War I in 1917, a means of communication was needed to encourage the public to support the war. The federal government’s Division of Pictorial Publicity enlisted some of the era’s finest artists, including Charles Dana Gibson, Howard Chandler Christy, James Montgomery Flagg, Haskell Coffin, and Joseph Christian Leyendecker, to design bold graphic posters to help spread the word. The goal of propaganda posters during World War I was to convince the public that the United States needed to enter a foreign war. The Library of Virginia’s Prints and Photographs Collection includes among its holdings a collection of 44 original World War I posters. Similar to the Library’s World War II Poster Collection, these items use the graphic arts to portray a message. Topics illustrated in the collection include enlistment in the armed forces, Liberty Loans and Liberty Bonds, and industrial mobilization.

The World War I posters are largely lithographic prints, ranging in size from 13.78″ x 20.9″ to 57″ x 43.3″. The Library’s holdings are comparable in number to other historic institutions in the Richmond area.

The posters have been cataloged and digitized and can be viewed through the Library’s catalog.

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World War II Poster Collection

C1:184
1939–1945
403 unique posters, 568 total

Bits of careless talk are pieced together by the enemy. Stevan Dohanos. 1943

During World War II, the United States government, through the Office of War Information and the U.S. Treasury, mobilized the best advertising men available to create posters that would speak to the nation. The images portrayed played on deep levels of fear, pride, duty, and patriotism in illustrating subjects such as recruitment and enlistment; fund-raising through liberty loans; communications; and the medical, social, economic, and industrial aspects of the war. Some posters also addressed the civilian war effort. Citizens were told through posters that they needed to work hard and sacrifice at home in order to beat the enemy. To that end, the ad men succeeded. People felt as though their efforts at home were truly helping “the boys” overseas. The Library of Virginia’s World War II Poster Collection consists of 403 unique posters, with 568 total posters in the collection.

As with the World War I Poster Collection, this collection uses the graphic arts to portray a message. In contrast to the WWI posters, which are reminiscent of fine art drawings (most notably by Howard Chandler Christy and James Montgomery Flagg), the design of the WWII posters follows the commercial illustration style of the time, popularized by artists such as John Atherton, Adolph Treidler, and J. Walter Wilkinson and his son, Walter G. Wilkinson. … Read the rest

British Cigarette Card Collection

C1:003
ca. 1910–1939
1 album, 7.5 x 9 inches; 360 cards

C1:003 British Cigarette Card Collection

With the invention of wrapping machines in the 19th century, pieces of plain card were used as protective stiffeners to protect the contents of paper packages. By the late 1870s in the United States, Allen & Ginter were embellishing these inserts with advertisements and illustrations. This quickly became an efficient and creative means of cultivating brand loyalty, and the practice spread rapidly to Great Britain and other foreign manufacturers. By the 1890s, many of the larger British tobacco companies were issuing cards, and they soon progressed to series on particular themes: actresses, soldiers, ships, kings and queens, etc.

The outbreak of war in 1914 inspired many patriotic card issues. Multiple influences were at work: the spontaneous expression of national pride; a desire to help the war effort; an insatiable public craving for news, particularly good news and information; a wish to glorify the heroism of British forces; and a determination to demonstrate the supporting role of civilians on the home front. Three of the seven sets in the British Cigarette Card Collection represent this time period: Army Life (October 1910), Regimental Uniforms (July 1912 and July 1914), and Military Motors (October 1916).

The popularity of cigarette cards grew during the 1920s and 1930s. Many of the sets issued during this time were reissues of earlier series with a timeless … Read the rest