THE TRADE IN FANCY GOODS
Images on the early sheets were seldom clearly separated and would often run into one another. Some were separated by a white margin. Often there was one central panel with a variety of related scenes around it.
The development of colour lithography (chromolithography) in 1837 led to heavily embossed chromolithograph reliefs printed on sheets. The images were first reproduced on clumsy lithographic stones, followed by the development of steel lithoplates which made large scale printing possible.
The first significant use of small hand-tinted litho prints were German bakers and the scraps or “Oblaten” they used to decorate confirmation wafers. The bakers placed scraps as educational pictorial aids on the wafers.
The name “Oblaten” was retained even when it was extended to non-religious products and become a general term for scraps. The scraps were also called Reliefbilder, Pressbilder and Glanzbilder which referred to the glossy sheen from the gum and gelatine coating.
Printers began providing a wider variety of decorations for the baker’s trade as the bakers extended the scraps from religious to festive fare. These included cakes and confectionery for birthdays and parties, as well as for traditional festive and seasonal occasions.
People began collecting the pretty decorations on the baked goods. A favourite was the figure of Saint Nick for the 6th of December. Biscuits were stamped into Santa shapes with a full-colour scrap of him on the biscuits.
Interest for scraps extended to UK and its colonies, America, Europe, Scandinavia and Russia. In UK, America and elsewhere the imports and the increased local production led to an increase in trade of scraps and fancy goods like albums and cards.
From 1850, dealers and publishers of fancy stationery and fancy boxes were quick to use the new materials and their businesses flourished.
Augustine Thierry introduced the Xmas card to England and the chromolithographs imported by Edward Elliot led to the rapid rise in the sale of Valentines. Scraps were also popular for Christmas, Easter and Birthday cards.
Sheets depicting scenes and views on a rectangular format were produced for albums, scrapbooks, boxes and screens for crafting by ladies of leisure. The supply of small chromos and sheets of elaborately embossed reliefs in a vast array of subject matter and for every occasion spread as an independent business.
Improved methods of production resulted in large numbers of fine quality reliefs being exported from the continental countries like Germany and France.
By the close of the 19th century scrap sheets were a highly lucrative business.
There are more articles in the series on the History of Scraps to follow, so visit often.
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