Nineteenth-century lithography, in America and elsewhere
October 16, 2009 6:06 PM   Subscribe

America on Stone: 19th Century American Lithographs is a browsable collection of lithographs on topics from advertising to uniforms. The viewer includes pan and zoom functions. (Harry T. Peters, who amassed this collection, was particularly interested in Currier & Ives.) Lithography became popular very quickly after its discovery at the end of the eighteenth century, rapidly finding its way into such commercial uses as sheet music covers. Needless to say, it also came in handy for far more exalted applications. (For previous MeFi adventures in lithography, try these posts.)
posted by thomas j wise (5 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Why oh why would you bother to put together a site with such fantastic content, and limit the viewing area to something little larger than a postage stamp? I know that lithographs are not vector graphics- but if the zoomed versions are actual size- and they are not much bigger than the silly little porthole - then get rid of the useless pan and zoom feature and just show me the image.
posted by mattoxic at 7:07 PM on October 16, 2009

Yeah, the whole attitude of the Smithsonian about making its public domain collections public on the Web is extreme bullshit.
posted by gubo at 5:12 AM on October 17, 2009

I wonder what "counterfeit" means in a world where the "real" product and the "fake" products aren't just made in the same town, but often by the same companies at the same factories.
posted by clvrmnky at 7:54 AM on October 17, 2009

Thanks thomas j wise, although the crappy little zoomify windows are obnoxious (and may almost certainly will prompt me to do some tweaking with firebug for full image extraction purposes), I'd not known about this collection previously.
posted by peacay at 8:35 AM on October 17, 2009

the sad thing is, lithography as an art form may perish altogether in the next century. see, the stones they use have very specific properties when it comes to oil absorption and etc, and only come from one quarry in germany, which is either tapped out or about to be (i forget exactly b/c it's been a while since i learned about this...early 90's, art institute of chicago printmaking class)...they've tried making synthetic stones, but without much luck. and, as the process of erasing the stones involves sanding them down (you have to get rid of ALL of the oil...even fingerprints will show up in a print), the stones we have are just slowly getting thinner and thinner...

my all time favorite lithos are winsor mckay's little nemo in slumberland (one of which is in the permanent collection at the louvre)...its staggers me to think he did the color separations for these himself, every week, by hand, in crayon, on a rock.
posted by sexyrobot at 2:06 PM on October 17, 2009

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