The Origin of Advertising

July 13, 2010 § Leave a comment

Parisiana Ah! Les Femmes printed circa 1895

Parisiana Ah! Les Femmes printed circa 1895

Parisiana Mam'zelle Louis V

Parisiana Mam'zelle Louis V

Our 12th Annual Preview Show this year at Fort Mason will offer a taste of Fin du Siecle Paris, the time into which the poster was born. Why is this time period so interesting? Of course, the costumes were fabulous, but the expanseof the culture was the real news, and the poster was an expression of it.

Because of the the world’s fairs of 1889 and 1900, the blend of world cultures in France was intoxicating.  But what really propelled the culture to express itself so vividly had to do with the birth of the middle class.


Moteur Ceres circa 1890

Moteur Ceres circa 1890

The invention of the gas powered motor was a breakthrough that improved agriculture immeasurably. It allowed farmers to produce a surplus of grain, of grapes, of whatever they grew. Then, there was an immediate need. If you can produce a surplus, how do you sell it? There you have the need for the poster.


Once the poster developed markets for products, the merchant class grew.  These people sold goods and consumed media and products previously reserved for the wealthy such as literature, plays and operas, which in turn fueled demand for posters to advertise these pastimes.

Very quickly, posters moved from a smattering to a torrent. The demand for products and experiences increased dramatically, and the marketing of those same things grew as well until in 1900 there were 8 major print house in Paris creating posters around the clock, and printing overruns as well, to meet the demand of the seemingly insatiable poster collecting public.


Cendrillon 1899

Cendrillon 1899

The collectors were savvy.  The average french collector in 1900 had 1,000+ posters in their cache. Today, I work to find those old colections, in piece or whole.  join us at Fort mason this year, and you will catch the bug….

VEP’s 12th Annual Preview Show features our collection of 1000+ original adverting posters PLUS new aquisitions from our buying trip to France.  August 19-22, 2010 Friday and Saturday from 10-6, Sunday from 11-5

Fort Mason Center is located at the Corner of Marina and Buchanan Streets in San Francisco.

The show is sponsored by Connoisseurs Guide to California Wine



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