collections

Augustus Jansson’s Queen City Ink Adverts (1903–1907)

queen city ink ad

These advertisements for the Queen City Printing Ink Company are taken from The Inland Printer — a trade journal that began its run in 1884 and is still being published on a limited basis today. The bold illustrations, by Augustus Jansson, show off the impressive colours and typography offered by this renowned company based in Cincinnati (nicknamed “the Queen of the West”) but with offices in American cities from Boston to Minneapolis.

Jansson — born to Swedish parents in Somerville, Massachusetts in 1866 — began a several-year stint working for Queen City Publishing in 1903. By then he had, in the words of the Cambridge Chronicle, become “well known to the public through his poster work, which, for originality and design, is unequalled”. He was also an accomplished postcard artist, cartoonist, tableware designer, and the author of an illustrated book for children called Hobby Hoss Fair.

Jansson produced many full-page layouts for Queen City, including the remarkable Ink Beasts Parade, with its Magenta Ponies and Orange-Yellow Ibexiaticus, and a series of doll-like figures. As one can see from a wider sampling of Jansson’s work (see here, here and here), it seems these figures were his specialty.

Below we’ve featured, in order of their publication, as many of Jansson’s colour ads for Queen City as we could find in the Smithsonian’s collection of the Inland Printer — with the Ink Beasts Parade series beginning after fourteen images.

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