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John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera for Art Historians: Commercial art

How to maximise use of the John Johnson Collection to find information about artists and art

Dudley Hardy's Gaiety Girl

(C) John Johnson Collection: Theatrical Souvenirs

Commercial and jobbing art

Commercial art had to make an immediate impact and is quintessentially of its time.   While it operated within its own constraints, notably those of deadlines, it is interesting to see the overlap with contemporary Fine Art movements.

The John Johnson Collection is a major source for the output of commercial and jobbing artists. There is an Artists section devoted to illustrators, such as John Hassall, Kate Greenaway, and McKnight Kauffer. However, the bulk of the output of commercial artists, illustrators, engravers, lithographers, etc (named and anonymous) is in other sections of the Collection: Advertising, Entertainment, Travel and Transport and ephemera kept by genre, such as Trade Cards,and Posters. We have worked for many years to make this dispersed material accessible through our Online catalogue and associated projects. This work, however, remains incomplete.

The best way to search the Advertisements in the John Johnson Collection is through the ProQuest project: The John Johnson Collection: an archive of printed ephemera.  You need to be connected to an HE or FE network for this (or subscribing school or public library).  Almost all Advertising sections have been catalogued and digiitsed here. Notable exceptions (mainly for copyright reasons) are Electricity and Electrical Appliances and Shell Mex.  You can combine searches by name, or product with subjects of illustration, and limit by date, or by printing process   However, those artists still in copyright are not here.  For John Hassall (who has over 300 entries in our online catalogue), McKnight Kauffer etc you will need to search our own online catalogue and follow our procedure to order material

Entertainment is split between the Oxford Digital Library for the 18th century (with exquisite tickets by Bartolozzi and Cipriani for example) and the ProQuest site for the 19th (with the same caveat for arists in copyright).  Wonderful images online.

Our Motor Car ephemera and 1,000 other transport images can be found through theToyota Project, but the Transport and Travel sections of the Collection have not otherwise been catalogued or digitised. There are indexes online. 

Trade cards are online through our own website. Artists' invitations and menus have been catalogued (the latter in detail, including Double Crown Club and Savage Club menus with covers by famous artists) but very little else kept by genre is catalogued or digitsed.  Please refer to the indexes.

Our posters will return to the Weston Library in 2015 and are currently outhoused and very difficult to retrieve without damage. Most are catalogued (Browse, set scroll bar to Shelfmarks, type posters).  Tip: in any index, click on Expand index and you will get the genre and date of each entry.



Subject Guide

Julie Anne Lambert's picture
Julie Anne Lambert
John Johnson Collection
Bodleian Libraries
Broad Street
+44 (0)1865 277047

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