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King and Hamblen Labels

Pickles and sauces, packed in bottles, became very popular processed foods after the Civil War. Pictured here are labels for William King and Company’s Superior Pickles and J. B. Hamblen and Company’s Wallnut Ketchup, both manufactured in Boston.

The graphic for Superior Pickles features two cucumbers still on the vine, indicating the bottle’s main ingredient. Hamblen’s label depicts a pile of seafood, probably a reference to the fact that walnut ketchup often contained anchovies and could be used as a flavoring for fish sauce.

Wm. King & Co. (Boston), detail and partial sheet. Superior Pickles, c. 1856–1860. Chromolithographed food label, image size: (4 1/8 x 1 ¼ in) sheet size: (22 1/8 x 14 in). Printed by Prang and Mayer, Boston.
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J. B. Hamblen & Co. (Boston), detail and partial sheet. Chromolithographed food label, image size: (4 x 4 ¼ in) sheet size: (22 ¼ x 23 in). Printed by Prang and Mayer, Boston.
CLICK EITHER IMAGE TO ENLARGE
OR HERE FOR FULL SHEET

These labels are early examples from the firm of the famous commercial lithographer Louis Prang. It is likely that they were created between 1856 and 1860 during Prang’s partnership with Julius Mayer. At this time, manufacturers hired outside firms to print their paper labels, which became the bulk of lithographic companies’ business, along with advertising posters and trade cards. Prang produced many labels with Mayer and then as L. Prang and Company. This part of his business dropped off after 1875, when Christmas cards, which Prang had worked to make popular, became the staple of his printing concern.

 

 

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