Great American Lake Shore Railroads

Date: 1855
Printer: Thomas & Lathrops, Buffalo, NY
Publisher / Location: Lake Shore Railroads
Medium: Letterpress and stencil work on paper
Credit: Gift of the New York Central Railroad
Accession Number: 1959.130.8
Comments: This poster for The Great American Lake Shore Railroads is visually and technically complex. A gothic revival stage proscenium draped with red and black striped curtains opens to reveal several pieces of information: a map of the region serviced by the railroad; a color image of a locomotive and passenger cars; and printed information set in green, red, and black ink. The chromotype press technique used to print the broadside tested the skill and technical limits of the printer. The poster passed through the press multiple times, each time printing only one of the colors. Not all was accomplished on the press. The printer added details by hand using stencils and watercolor paint. The poster represents a transitional phase in graphic production where complex designs needed handwork to finish what machines alone could not do.