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Maine Memory Network

Ballads and Posters

This Exhibit Contains 24 Items
1
Notice seeking potatoes, Newcastle, ca. 1870

Notice seeking potatoes, Newcastle, ca. 1870

Item 20147 info
Maine Historical Society

Joseph Wood, Printer

Joseph Wood, 24, son of a minister and grandson of Revolutionary War general Abiel Wood, opened a printing shop in his hometown of Wiscasset in 1866 and began what would be his lifelong career as a printer.

He produced broadsides, public notices, all types of stationery and forms -- and published local newspapers.


2
Notice for Indian exhibition, Wiscasset, ca. 1870

Notice for Indian exhibition, Wiscasset, ca. 1870

Item 20148 info
Maine Historical Society

Throughout his life, Wood was aware of the power of the press. He knew his printed work was a vital medium of communication.

At age 16, Wood and a friend had published a weekly newspaper that lasted for three months.

After serving an apprenticeship to a tinsmith and another at the Portland Evening Courier, Wood attended Eastman Business College in Poughkeepsie, New York.

A flyer Wood printed advertises Everett's Grand Indian Exhibition at Franklin Hall in Wiscasset on March 13, in about 1870.


3
Surgeon office opening announcement, Wiscasset 1871

Surgeon office opening announcement, Wiscasset 1871

Item 20149 info
Maine Historical Society

Wood's shop probably was a small one, even by Maine standards.

He most likely worked alone or with a young assistant or apprentice, and used older-style hand-powered equipment.

He operated the shop until the late 1870s, when he moved to Skowhegan and began a printing shop there.

At left, Dr. B. F. Lancaster, a surgeon, announces the opening of his office in Wiscasset on March 29, 1871.


4
Reward for cemetery damage, ca. 1870

Reward for cemetery damage, ca. 1870

Item 20150 info
Maine Historical Society

Each print job, whether broadside or newspaper, needed to be carefully planned.

Each letter was set by hand. After proofing, every copy was printed manually.

From his printing shop, Wood also sold insurance and became involved in civic activities, including the Wiscasset Fire Society and the Lincoln Library Association.

On the broadside at left, the Wiscasset selectmen offer a $25 reward for conviction of anyone involved in damaging cemetery fences.


5
Vegetable Bilious Bitters ad, Damariscotta, 1872

Vegetable Bilious Bitters ad, Damariscotta, 1872

Item 20151 info
Maine Historical Society

There was much handwork and the quality of every job was a reflection of the skill of the person who printed it.

Wood was a publisher of the Seaside Oracle and Wiscasset Herald, became secretary of the Maine Press Association in 1889.

In 1894, Wood became editor of the Maine Coast Cottager.


6
Custom House reward, Wiscasset, 1871

Custom House reward, Wiscasset, 1871

Item 20152 info
Maine Historical Society

Wood's broadsides were intended to be posted or circulated around town.

They served to advertise new businesses, promote local events, share recent news, and generally keep the community informed.


7
Anti-loafing broadside, Wiscasset, ca. 1871

Anti-loafing broadside, Wiscasset, ca. 1871

Item 20153 info
Maine Historical Society

Wood's notices reveal the interests and concerns of the citizens of this small coastal village during the 1870s and 1880s.

Vandalism apparently was a problem in Wiscasset as several broadsides suggest, including the one at left that offers a $5 reward or information about anyone forcing the doors of the Custom House and Post Office in Wiscasset or otherwise damaging or defacing the building.


8
Christmas supplement announcement, Wiscasset, ca. 1872

Christmas supplement announcement, Wiscasset, ca. 1872

Item 20154 info
Maine Historical Society

A broadside announced the publication of the Seaside Oracle's Christmas supplement in about 1872.

Wood sent a "specimen volume of an American Village newspaper," the Christmas edition of the 1875 Oracle to Queen Victoria of England, probably hoping for a personal response.


9
Joseph Wood to Queen Victoria, 1875

Joseph Wood to Queen Victoria, 1875

Item 20155 info
Maine Historical Society

Instead, the Queen's lieutenant general responded.

At left is Wood's letter to the Queen. He suggests the specimen volume "may not be an unwelcome addition to the Royal Library."

Joseph Wood died in Portland in 1923.


10
Men's neck wear 'novelty' ad, 1887

Men's neck wear 'novelty' ad, 1887

Item 20156 info
Maine Historical Society

Inventions

Nineteenth-century inventors used broadsides to promote their new inventions, much like billboards, advertisements and commercials are used for that purpose today.

Here, a broadside advertised a "novelty in gentlemen's neck wear" that is something "new, nice and nobby."

Zebulon Harmon of Portland and David Bragden of West Durham invented shirt fronts that reduced the need for clean shirts. Wearers simply replaced the front section of the shirt with the Zylonite insert.


11
Zylonite shirt insert, ca. 1887

Zylonite shirt insert, ca. 1887

Item 20158 info
Maine Historical Society

The zylonite shirt insert, as advertised in the previous broadside, allowed men to wear most of their shirts repeatedly, with a new, fresh front.

Zebulon Harmon of Portland and David Bragdon of West Durham invented the shirt insert.


12
Stove advertisement, ca. 1880

Stove advertisement, ca. 1880

Item 20159 info
Maine Historical Society

Posted in hardware stores, on walls or in post offices, these broadsides often exaggerated their claims to capture the attention and imagination of consumers.

The name of this stove, "Superior Box Stove," announces its value to the consumer. The ad is from about 1880.


13
Clothes washer advertisement, Westbrook, 1873

Clothes washer advertisement, Westbrook, 1873

Item 20160 info
Maine Historical Society

Alcott Pennell of Westbrook advertised that he was selling Rawson's Hydro-pneumatic clothes washer, patented in 1873.

It was the "best washer in the world" according to the ad, and was a "celebrated" washer.


14
Window screen advertisement, Portland, 1867

Window screen advertisement, Portland, 1867

Item 20161 info
Maine Historical Society

The ads for the newly invented products speak of the nature of life in 19th-century Maine and reflect the creative imagination of their makers.

George L. Lothrop of Exchange Street in Portland sold Barker's Universal Window Screens, patented February 12, 1867.

The screens fit any window, kept out flies, mosquitoes and other insects, and could be put together by anyone, according to the advertisement.


15
New Year's watchman's ballad, Portland, 1828

New Year's watchman's ballad, Portland, 1828

Item 20162 info
Maine Historical Society

Broadside Ballads

All ye kind husbands, pray draw near,
Attend to me with listening ear,
While solemnly I shew to you,
An awful scene, but surely true ...

--- Thomas Shaw, 1807

These lines begin the broadside ballad written by Thomas Shaw (1753-1838) of Standish, describing the tragic death of the wife and child of Nathaniel Knights who fell into an icy river and drowned.

Shaw based his composition on the details of the event, printed his ballad, then sold the broadsides for five or six cents each as he traveled the countryside.

At left is another example of a broadside ballad, one about the watchmen on Central Wharf in Portland for the New Year in 1828.


16
Ballad, More Lynching, 1835

Ballad, More Lynching, 1835

Item 20164 info
Maine Historical Society

Broadside ballads provided readers with sensational news and intriguing insights into recent events and local stories.

For the authors and printers, the ballads provided some income as well.

At left is a ballad entitled "More Lynching," printed in broadside format in 1835.


17
Ballad concerning drowning in Portland Harbor, ca. 1850

Ballad concerning drowning in Portland Harbor, ca. 1850

Item 20163 info
Maine Historical Society

Details about executions, shipwrecks and politics were written as poems or ballads.

Authors frequently added a religious, moral or political perspective as well.

A ballad entitled "Mournful Tragedy" discusses the drowning of six young men in Portland Harbor in about 1850.

The ballad broadsides offered readers a record of newsworthy or sensational events that they likely could not find in any other form.


18
Proclamation urging resistance to British, 1779

Proclamation urging resistance to British, 1779

Item 20167 info
Maine Historical Society

War and Peace

Information about wars and about the ends of wars was important for residents of towns and cities, small and large.

Broadsides provided a quick way to let people know what was happening.

The proclamation at left urges residents of Castine to confront the British and challenge their efforts to establish a post on the Penobscot.


19
Broadside on end of War of 1812, 1815

Broadside on end of War of 1812, 1815

Item 20166 info
Maine Historical Society

This broadside announces: "Peace Concluded. Let all the people thank God. And Say Amen!"

Dated February 1815 in Portland, it proclaims the end of the War of 1812.

"The Committee also recommend, that good order be observed, and that houses not illuminated may be attributed to inconvenience or not being occupied," the proclamation notes.

It goes on to suggest that a 24-hour watch would be instituted to "guard the town against fire, & preserve order."


20
Peace announcement, 1815

Peace announcement, 1815

Item 20168 info
Maine Historical Society

Another announcement of the end of the War of 1812 between Britain and the United States is dated from Portland, February 14, 1815.

It calls the peace treaty "Great and Happy News" and notes that a dispatch was received from New York about the peace and spread to Boston, then Portland.


21
Maine Potato Week World War 1 poster, ca, 1917

Maine Potato Week World War 1 poster, ca, 1917

Item 14781 info
Maine Historical Society

The Poster

By the early 1900s, new printing methods of color lithography allowed printers to make large, colorful, mass-produced images and distribute them across the country from centralized locations.

During World War I, between 1917 and 1918, government agencies produced thousands of posters that were displayed throughout the country.

This poster, geared just to Maine, notes, "Maine Potato Week April 28 to May 3 inclusive Eat More Potatoes and save the wheat. Every potato you eat is a bullet fired point blank at a made-in-Germany peace."


22
Food--don't waste it, World War 1 poster, c. 1917

Food--don't waste it, World War 1 poster, c. 1917

Item 15116 info
Maine Historical Society

The posters were used to encourage recruitment, help raise funds through the Liberty and Victory Loan funds, and generally to drum up public support for the war effort.

Part of the war effort was encouraging sacrifice on the home front. This poster suggests that civilians conserve food to ensure a large food supply for military purposes.


23
Rivets are bayonets poster, 1917

Rivets are bayonets poster, 1917

Item 14803 info
Maine Historical Society

This poster entitled, "Rivets are bayonets - Drive them home!" suggests the importance of domestic war work, equating it to the work soldiers were doing on the battlefield.


24
Over the top for you-Buy U.S. gov't bonds, World War I poster, c. 1918

Over the top for you-Buy U.S. gov't bonds, World War I poster, c. 1918

Item 15110 info
Maine Historical Society

The government used popular artists and illustrators to design the posters and create images that successfully captured the American imagination.

This poster, entitled "Over the top for you - buy U.S. gov't bonds, Third Liberty Loan," graphically suggests the sacrifices American soldiers were making as it urged financial sacrifice of civilians.


This Exhibit Contains 24 Items