The printer’s devil

an apprentice in a printing establishment who performed a number of tasks, such as mixing tubs of ink and fetching type.
Look for comments by our Printers Devil throughout the Printing Times

 

In 1987, everything was still geared to printed communications. 50,000 printing plants in the U.S. employed more than one million workers

 

"Trying to imagine our modern world without printed communication is like trying to imagine a desert without sand or an ocean without water.

Virtually everything we do is geared to printed communication.

The information required in a democratic society is distributed to mass audiences via brochures, advertising leaflets, billboards and other media as well as the ever-present newspapers, magazines and books." 

From the Introduction to The Graphics of Communication — Typography, Layout, Design, Production.   Fifth Edition, 1987 by Russell N. Baird, Arthur Turnbull, Duncan McDonald

Magazines…
Newspapers…
Trade papers…
you’ll find very few of them in print today

The world of letterpress, lithography, and rotogravure printing has almost disappeared. Typesetting is not dependent upon the skilled hands of compositors, or the nimble fingers of linotype and monotype operators. And who needs to know that type high is .918 of an inch? Who cares to differentiate between a stereotype and a zinc? Where would you find a matrix? You won’t find a hell box anywhere today. Or a frisket. Or quoins. There is no longer a job for a printer’s devil.

…so this website draws your attention
to the print world of the 20th Century

Primarily the world of advertising, although you’ll find lots of commentary on technology and journalism. We seek to illustrate how advertising changed as technology evolved and how copywriting and artwork reflected variations in societal norms of the last century.

Print advertisements reflect
how life was lived in the 20th Century

Advertising in the last century, print advertising specifically, showcased life as it was lived across the western world. Advertisements simply announced the better mousetraps, how they were better and where they could be purchased. Consumers did beat paths to advertisers’ doors, at least to those whose messages were presented creatively.

And that is what this website is all about. It is not an anthology of great advertising. It’s just an advertisement. It doesn’t sell. It tells stories, called posts today on websites like this, about advertising creativity in print media of the past.

Explore the stories, marvel at the creativity or lack of it, compare these print advertisements with today’s commercials on broadcast media, and shed a little tear for days gone by.

Email powers Direct Mail today

Before there was Amazon.com there was Montgomery Ward which published catalogues to sell just about everything using direct mail.

You can experience a flight in this 1946 Cessna 140 when you visit this post.

Goodbye to the Hometown Paper

Washington Post Magazine Columnist Margaret Sullivan started out in a vibrant local-newspaper industry. Now that industry is vanishing. Writing about the decline of local news, Ms. Sullivan writes: “The consequences of rapidly vanishing local newspapers may not always be obvious, but they are insidious. Between 2008 and 2017, American newspapers cut 45 percent of their newsroom staffs; even deeper cutbacks came in the years after that. Some of the most trusted sources of news are slipping away, never to return.”

You can read Margaret Sullivan's concerns in Washington Post Magazine  and in her book: Ghosting the News: Local Journalism and the Crisis of American Democracy 

 

A noted graphic designer, he was an expert in typefaces, developing many himself and “fixing” others. His work adorns The New York Times. Mr. Benguiat was an important figure in the design world for a number of reasons. According to his citation in the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame, where he was inducted in 2000, he helped establish the International Typeface Corporation, the first independent licensing company for type designers, and became its vice president. He also taught for almost 50 years at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan.

Read about Mr. Benguiat in this account
from The New York Times, October 18, 2020

Take your pick! Palmolive or Ivory?

Colgate Palmolive and Procter & Gamble had competed for the bar-soap market for more than half a century at the time these advertisements were published

  • Copywriting
  • Graphics
  • Publishing
  • Advertisers

Bad typography makes ad unreadable

The art director's typography decisions showed little understanding of effective design in this Yellow Pages advertisement that appeared in Printer's Ink