Radiant with Color & Art:

McLoughlin Brothers and the Business of Picture Books, 1858-1920

Founded by John McLoughlin Jr. (1827-1905) and Edmund McLoughlin (ca. 1833-1889), the firm was one of the first to concentrate exclusively on works for children, producing illustrated books as well as printed paper dolls, toy soldiers, games, and valentines. They created 1,000 titles in about 150 series between 1860 and 1890. McLoughlin Brothers reached both low- and middle-class customers by diversifying its stock and offering various price points for its products, ranging from one penny to a dollar per book. Through strategic partnerships and collaborations the brothers expanded their distribution nationwide. They also repurposed their imprints to cross-promote and sell other items such as clothing and food and worked with D. Appleton and Company to create Spanish-language imprints that were sold throughout Latin America.

The firm was also an innovator in printing technology, introducing the process of printing from relief etched zinc plates (called chromotypography) and later mastering color lithography printing. By 1905, the firm was credited with having one of the largest lithographic printing establishments in the country, with a Brooklyn-based factory stretching over five acres. The firm created imprints on all subjects from both European and American sources, including fairy tales, nursery rhymes, popular culture, and holidays. They also published the artwork of important nineteenth-century illustrators such as Thomas Nast, Justin H. Howard, Sarah Noble Ives, Ida Waugh, and Richard André.

McLoughlin coverRadiant with Color & Art portrays the accomplishments and technological innovations of the McLoughlin Brothers publishing firm as well as exploring the early history of American juvenile literature publishing; early children’s publishing in New York City; depictions of humor, race, and social mores; and the many ways the firm portrayed Cinderella and Christmas over time, among other subjects.

The Society is also publishing a fully-illustrated 145-page color catalog of Radiant with Color & Art: McLoughlin Brothers and the Business of Picture Books, 1858-1920. This catalog will sell for $30 and will be available online through Oak Knoll Books.

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