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Jay T. Last Collection of American Entertainment: Performing Arts Prints and Ephemera
priJLC_ENT  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administration Information
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Jay T. Last Collection of American Entertainment: Performing Arts Prints and Ephemera
    Dates (inclusive): 1839-approximately 1940
    Bulk dates: 1870-1900
    Collection Number: priJLC_ENT
    Collector: Last, Jay T.
    Extent: approximately 1800 items
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Prints and Ephemera
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: 626-405-3473
    Email: lastcollection@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: The Jay T. Last Collection of American Entertainment: Performing Arts Prints and Ephemera contains more than 1,800 printed items primarily advertising theatrical and musical entertainment and related performers in the United States from 1839 to the 1940s, with the majority of items dating from the 1870s to the 1890s. The collection consists of advertising and promotional materials, business records, and illustrations pertaining to a wide variety of performance genres that have been grouped broadly as music and theater (including theater, music, dance, burlesque, comedy, pantomime, and variety); minstrel (including minstrel shows, blackface entertainers, and female minstrels); and magic and miscellaneous (including magicians, motion pictures, and Wild West shows).
    Language: English.
    Note:
    Finding aid last updated on September 29, 2014.

    Administration Information

    Access

    The collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, please visit the Huntington's website: www.huntington.org.  

    Publication Rights

    In order to quote from, publish, or reproduce any of the visual materials, researchers must obtain formal permission from the office of the Library Director. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Huntington as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

    Preferred Citation

    [Item title, Call number]. Jay T. Last Collection of American Entertainment: Performing Arts Prints and Ephemera, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Provenance

    This collection forms part of the Jay T. Last Collection of Lithographic and Social History, which was donated to the Huntington Library by Jay T. Last in 2005 as a gift in progress. The bulk of the performing arts prints and ephemera were transferred to the Library between 2010 and 2013.

    Background

    The Jay T. Last Collection is an unparalleled archive of printed paper artifacts that documents American lithographic, social, and business history. The collection began in the early 1970s when physicist and Silicon Valley pioneer Jay Last moved to Southern California and started collecting citrus box labels he found at local flea markets and rummage sales. As his collection grew, Last realized that these labels conveyed important information about commercial printing, graphic design, and social history, and he expanded his collection to include other forms of American visual culture. Today this collection contains more than 185,000 lithographic prints, posters, and ephemera of mostly nineteenth- and early twentieth- century American origin and represents works by more than five hundred lithographic companies.

    Related materials in the Huntington Library

    Note

    The Huntington Library Historical Prints Collection contains two related items (priHHC_ENT_0000002 and priHHC_ENT_0000003) that are listed in the "Related Materials" section at the beginning of the Music and Theater subseries in Series II of this finding aid.

    Scope and Content

    The Jay T. Last Collection of American Entertainment: Performing Arts Prints and Ephemera contains more than 1,800 printed items primarily advertising theatrical and musical entertainment and related performers in the United States from 1839 to the 1940s, with the majority of items dating from the 1870s to the 1890s. The collection consists of advertising and promotional materials, business records, and illustrations pertaining to a wide variety of performance genres that have been grouped broadly as music and theater (including theater, music, dance, burlesque, comedy, pantomime, and variety); minstrel (including minstrel shows, blackface entertainers, and female minstrels); and magic and miscellaneous (including magicians, motion pictures, and Wild West shows).
    Materials are arranged into two series: small-size items (11 x 14 inches or less) and large-size items (bigger than 11 x 14 inches). Small size items are described broadly at the series level; large-size items are fully inventoried and all printers, artists, and publishers are indexed by name.
    The collection has 442 large-size items comprised mainly of lithographic theatrical and minstrel posters that were intended to advertise specific shows or performers.
    Small-size items in the collection number more than 1,415 and are comprised mainly of promotional ephemera and business documents such as trade cards, programs and playbills, souvenir booklets, die-cut cards, and printed billheads and letterheads with manuscript text.
    The collection provides a resource for studying the history of the American theater and the evolution of advertising strategies for the performing arts in the United States in the late 19th century. As graphic materials, the items offer evidence of developing techniques and trends in printmaking, and of the artists, engravers, lithographers, printers, and publishers involved in the creation of these prints.

    Alternative Form of Materials Available

    Visit the Huntington Digital Library: Jay T. Last Collection   to view digitized items from this collection.

    Arrangement

    Items are arranged broadly by size in two series, which have been further arranged in subseries:
    • Series I. Performing Arts Prints and Ephemera (small size)
      • Subseries A. Music and Theater (small size)
      • Subseries B. Minstrel (small size)
      • Subseries C. Magic and Miscellaneous (small size)
    • Series II. Performing Arts Prints and Ephemera (large size)
      • Subseries A. Music and Theater (large size)
      • Subseries B. Minstrel (large size)
      • Subseries C. Magic and Miscellaneous (large size)

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  

    Genres

    Advertisements.
    Billheads.
    Business records.
    Business records -- United States -- 19th century.
    Business records -- United States -- 20th century.
    Caricatures.
    Chromolithographs.
    Ephemera.
    Engravings.
    Leaflets (printed works).
    Letterheads.
    Lithographs.
    Portrait prints.
    Posters.
    Printed ephemera.
    Prints.
    Promotional materials.
    Relief prints.
    Theatrical posters.
    Tradecards.

    Subjects

    Actors -- Pictorial works.
    Actors -- Portraits.
    Actresses -- Pictorial works.
    African Americans -- Pictorial works.
    Bands (Music) -- Pictorial works.
    Blackface entertainers -- Pictorial works.
    Burlesque (Theater)
    Caricatures and cartoons.
    Comedians -- Portraits.
    Comedies.
    Dancers -- Pictorial works.
    Magicians -- Pictorial works.
    Marching bands -- Pictorial works.
    Melodramas.
    Minstrel shows.
    Parades -- Pictorial works.
    Theater -- United States -- History -- 19th century -- Sources.
    Theater -- United States -- History -- 20th century -- Sources.
    Theatrical producers and directors -- Portraits.
    Theatrical productions -- United States -- 19th century.
    Vaudeville.

    Printer, Publisher, Artist Index

    The following is a complete list of printers, publishers, and artists represented in the large-size items in this collection.
    A. Hoen & Co.
    A.S. Seer’s Printing Establishment (New York, N.Y.)
    Ackermann-Quigley Litho. Co.
    Alfred Mudge and Son.
    American Lithographic Co.
    American Show Print (Firm)
    Armstrong & Co. (Boston, Mass.)
    Arnold, Vic.
    Baker, Joseph E., approximately 1837-1914.
    Bencke, Herman.
    Blue, Ed.
    Bonar, Thomas.
    Boston Job Print.
    Briggs, A.
    Cadwell, William H.
    Calhoun Printing Company.
    Calvert Lithographing Co. (Detroit, Mich.)
    Central Lith. & Eng. Co.
    Chicago Bank Note Company
    Chicago Lithographing Co.
    Clear & Co.
    Courier Company.
    De La Harpe, Joseph, 1850-1901.
    Donaldson Litho. Co.
    Dreser, William, approximately 1820-
    Dunshee, E. S.
    Enquirer Job Printing Co.
    Enquirer Litho. Co.
    Enterprise Litho Co.
    Erie Litho. & Ptg. Co.
    Etherington, C. (Engraver)
    Falk, B. J. (Benjamin J.), 1853-1925.
    Forbes Lithograph Manufacturing Company.
    Francis & Valentine
    Frizzell, S. S. (Samuel S.), 1843-1895.
    Goes Lithographic Co.
    Goodman, Arthur Jule, d. 1926.
    Graphic Company.
    Great Western Pr. Eng. & Lith. Co.
    Greve Show Print Co.
    Gurney, J. (Jeremiah), 1812-1895.
    H. A. Thomas & Sterling.
    H. A. Thomas & Wylie.
    H.C. Miner Litho. Co.
    Haehnlen, Jacob, 1824-.
    Hallworth, Joseph B.
    Hart, Chas. (Charles), active 1870-1880.
    Hatch Lith. Co.
    Henry Seibert & Bros.
    Hyde, James G.
    J. Ottman Lithographic Company.
    J.M.W. Jones Stationery & Printing Co.
    Kurz & Allison.
    Ledger Job Printing Office (Philadelphia, Pa.)
    Liebler & Maass.
    Lord, F.
    MacBrair Lith. Co.
    Maerz Lith. Co.
    Maerz, Alois J.
    Magee, John L.
    Metropolitan Job Printing and Engraving Establishment.
    Morgan, Matthew Somerville, 1839-1890.
    N. Currier (Firm)
    National Printing & Engraving Company (U.S.)
    New England Lithographic Co.
    New York Popular Publishing Co.
    Otis Lithograph Co.
    Parsloe, Edmond
    P.A. Mesier & Co
    Phoenix Litho. Co.
    Quigley Litho. Co.
    Rimanoczy, A., 1832-1910.
    Riverside Press (Cambridge, Mass.)
    Riverside Printing Company.
    Rothengatter, Emil, 1848-1939.
    Russell-Morgan Print.
    Sarony, Napoleon, 1821-1896.
    Sarony, Napoleon, 1821-1896.
    Schmidt Label & Litho. Co.
    Shearman & Hart.
    Shober & Carqueville.
    Springer Litho. Co.
    Stafford & Co.
    Standard Embossing Co.
    Strobridge & Co. Lith.
    Strobridge Lithographing Company.
    T. Fitzwilliam & Co.
    T. Sinclair & Son.
    T. Sinclair’s Lith.
    The Jones Lith Co.
    The U.S. Printing Co.
    Thomas, Henry Atwell, 1834-1904.
    Thomas, Sterling & Wylie.
    Una & Sturn.
    W. J. Morgan & Co.
    Walle & Co.
    Willard, Archibald M., 1836-1918.
    Windisch, A.
    Wm. Bengough & Co.