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  #1  
Old 08-11-2008, 11:22 AM
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Default Information wanted on the American Lithographic Company

Posted By: Joe Drouillard

Hello Everyone,

I was wondering if anyone possesses any historical information on the American Lithographic Company? This is the company that produced many of the tobacco cards that our in our pre-war collections.

I don't know if this topic has been covered on an earlier post or not. I did try a key word search on past threads, but didn't come up with anything that clearly discusses the question.

Here is what I have already learned about the company from a brief Internet search:

The company was founded by Joseph P Knapp in 1892 and quickly grew to be the largest printer in the United States (80% of the United States market).

Joseph Knapp is credited with introducing the multicolor six cylinder press (I wonder if this is the type of press used to create T-cards?).

The company was purchased by Consolidated Graphics in 1930. The company eventually was absorbed into the Crowell-Collier Publishing Company.

Famous editor and writer Edward Bok may have been briefly employed to write biographies on the backs of tobacco cards of famous personalities. At least he spoke with Knapp about the idea in the 1880s.

The company was involved in a major swindle ($100,000.00 lawsuit filed by company president William Ottman) against some folks from Great Britain in the twenties, that may have led to the company being taken over.

I'm just currious about the origin of tobacco cards and the history of the company that produced them. I also believe that there are others on this board that could add information anecdotic, apocryphal or historical that could develop into a very interesting thread of discussion. Also, perhaps, there is book published on the company or on its founder Joseph Knapp that someone may know about that they could share. I know he was also involved in wildlife preservation.

Thanks for anything that you can add to my list.

Joe

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Old 08-11-2008, 02:07 PM
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Default Information wanted on the American Lithographic Company

Posted By: Ted Zanidakis

In 1892, when American Lithographic Co. (ALC) bought up several of the major Litho. Co.....Geo. Harris & Sons, Litho. in
Philadelphia was one of the major ones. Harris produced many of the colorful Old Judge (Goodwin) cards of the late 1880's.

Joseph Palmer Knapp (founder of ALC) was an innovative force in the Lithographic printing industry and in 1895 he expand-
ed his firm by constructing a 13-story building in New York City (it still stands at 230 Park Ave South). Knapp and James
Buchanan Duke, of the American Tobacco Co., became very close friends and business associates.

Therefore, I think we can safely assume that American Litho. not only printed all the T206's; but, most of the BB T-cards,
and most of the other Premiums (Flags, Military men, Movie Stars, etc.) from 1900-1916.

These premiums were shipped by rail to their respective Tobacco Factories in Louisiana, North Carolina, New York, Ohio,
Virginia, etc. to be inserted in tobacco packs.

TED Z


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Old 08-11-2008, 02:16 PM
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Default Information wanted on the American Lithographic Company

Posted By: Dave Hornish

I can't find the link right now, but I found a reference to American Litho selling off their old presses in 1919, presumably because they bought new ones. One of the new ones was dropped 10 or 12 stories when a rope broke during installation and crashed through the sidewalk and almost onto the subway tracks.

If an article is going to be the result of this, I would really look forward to reading it.

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Old 08-11-2008, 02:23 PM
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Default Information wanted on the American Lithographic Company

Posted By: Dave Hornish

Ah, I remember where it was-the New York Times archive. Here is a link to my search there of American Lithographic Company:

http://tinyurl.com/5svq84

And here is a different kind of link for them:

http://tinyurl.com/6nwcgd

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Old 08-11-2008, 03:39 PM
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Default Information wanted on the American Lithographic Company

Posted By: Joe Drouillard

Thanks Ted and Dave for your help. Interesting, Ted, that the building still stands. I wonder if anyone has every searched it's knooks and cranies for records or remnents of old T-cards.

Neat story about the dropped press, Dave, and thanks for the link to the New York Times archive. I've already used it to read about some of the Highlanders of the time. There are some neat stories buried in old newspapers. The Times is the only paper, to my knowledge, that goes back that far in its archives. I know that with the Times there is a limit to the number of articles that you can access for free and the price seems pretty high if you have to pay for access.

Also Dave, I don't know if there is enough information for an article about this, but it bothers me how little we know about the origins of tobacco cards and the people responsible for creating them.

I found Joseph Palmer Knapp's obituary at the following website this afternoon: <a href="http://www.geocities.com/knapphistory/JPK.html"

In his obituary it tells how Knapp was upset because his father only gave him an allowance of $5.00 a week and then insisted that he give $3.00 in the collection plate at church on Sunday. He became a very hardworker, so hard that his work ethic impressed James B. Duke, President of the American Tobacco Company. Knapp wouldn't take time for a lunchbreak and Duke admired him for it. They became good friends and American Tobacco Company one of American Lithographs best customers.

I also found out that Knapp was a big supporter of North Carolina State. The library there is named after him. I imagine that there may be some interesting information about Knapp and possibly American Lithograph in their records.

Any other information that anyone else could add would be appreciated

Joe

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Old 08-14-2008, 11:12 AM
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Default Information wanted on the American Lithographic Company

Posted By: David Simon

Try Google News Archive -- unlimited and free

They have all the old NYT stuff.

http://news.google.com/archivesearch?hl=en&tab=wn>

Also, 230 Park South has been gutted and renovated several times and now houses a large ad agency.

ds

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Old 08-14-2008, 07:58 PM
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Default Information wanted on the American Lithographic Company

Posted By: Lyman

Joe, there is a great article in the current issue of Old Cardboard magazine (Issue #16; Summer 2008) about the New York Recorder newspaper which was a partnership between Buck Duke (ATC) and Joe Knapp, Jr. (ALCO). The article is very well written; I know the author well.

While the article is focused on the newspaper and the two color baseball supplements that it produced in 1892, there is a two page "side panel" with fairly detailed bios of Duke, Knapp and their longtime association.

The text of the article also discusses the first color offset printing developed with Knapp funding and their historic race with other NY newspapers to produce the first color Sunday Supplements from a mechanical press.

If you are not a subscriber, you can subscribe online at http://www.oldcardboard.com/subscriptions.asp.

Hope you enjoy the article.

Lyman

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Old 08-15-2008, 10:20 PM
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Default Information wanted on the American Lithographic Company

Posted By: Duke42

http://spoonercentral.com/2005/ALCO.html

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Old 08-15-2008, 10:39 PM
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Default Information wanted on the American Lithographic Company

Posted By: Robert Klevens

I found this item in the June 1997 Robert Edward Auctions catalog.

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Old 08-16-2008, 03:28 PM
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Default Information wanted on the American Lithographic Company

Posted By: Scot Reader


Is it the American "Lithographic" Company, or the American "Lithograph" Company? I assume the former is correct--although the Ball-Bulger letter indicates otherwise.

Scot

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