drawing of printmakers

Prints, Posters, and Ephemera

The Huntington holds 900,000 historical prints, posters, and ephemera that date mostly from the late 1700s to the 1960s. This extensive assemblage of American and European works on paper demonstrates the rich visual imagery, evolving graphic design styles, and practical printmaking methods of everyday items. Among the many formats and genres present are almanacs, book illustrations, broadsides, billheads and letter sheets, children’s literature, invitations, political ballots, product packaging, rewards of merit, sheet music, and trade catalogs.

Consonant with its status as a leading repository for Anglo-American culture, the Library contains more than 11,000 American and British satirical prints from the 18th and 19th centuries, including multiple printing states and color variants. The holdings are particularly strong in the work of the London caricaturists, notably the Cruikshanks, James Gillray, William Hogarth, and Thomas Rowlandson.

The largest collection, however, is devoted to 19th-century commercial lithographs: the Jay T. Last Collection of Graphic Arts and Social History. The collection’s more than 200,000 items document the impact of lithography across Europe and the United States and represent the work of more than 500 American printers. Key holdings include pre-1840 “lithographic incunabula” from Europe and the United States, as well as myriad examples of American chromolithography from the second half of the 1800s.

A wealth of resources in Last and beyond illustrate California’s multifaceted history. Gold Rush pictorial letter sheets, fruit and vegetable product labels, and promotional pamphlets for tourism and land development are some of the many materials that reflect the state’s growth and prosperity.

Other remarkable groupings further illuminate 19th- and early 20th-century culture. The John Haskell Kemble Collection chronicles maritime history, while the Diana Korzenik Collection of Art Education Ephemera and Books traces art instruction in America. Significant holdings of Abraham Lincoln portrait prints, American Civil War ephemera, World War I posters, and suffrage and social reform ephemera distinctively document political and military history.

Resource Guides:
Prints, Posters, and Ephemera Research Guide

Digital Resources:
John Haskell Kemble Maritime Collection
Diana Korzenik Collection of Art Education Ephemera
Jay T. Last Collection
World War I Posters

Banner image credit: Lithographer (1874), L. Prang & Co., printer. priJLC_PRG_002135