The Poster-Paster

In my collection of books related to printing and publishing is a delightful edition from Dover of line art engravings from the 19th and early 20th centuries.

I wrote about reproducing these illustrations in a series of blogs I wrote in January and February of this year. They are surprisingly challenging to reproduce with digital technologies. I use that book occasionally as a source of early graphic arts illustrations.

Today, while out on a journey to buy some chain lubricant for my bicycle, I encountered a 19th century event here in Munich. I passed a man putting up advertising posters using a long-handled brush with paste on it. First he brushed the paste on the wall, then he applied a poster, then followed by painting paste on the front surface of the poster with his brush.

I suppose that the paste works its way through the poster and helps to hold it in place when the paste dries.

I have never seen this done before. It was amusing to me, as one of my favorite engravings is of a poster-paster putting up a poster by this technique.

What made it even more amusing was that as the man worked, the wind picked up a couple of the posters he was hanging, and they blew down the street. The poster-paster’s assistant took chase and brought them back. The illustration above, drawn in 1836 by British cartoonist Robert Seymour, came to mind.

Today’s poster-pasting experience was an eye-opener for me. Techniques used in previous centuries are still at work today.

Above, the poster-paster with his long-handled brush applies white paste to the wall, then to the posters after he has applied them.

About Brian Lawler

Brian Lawler is an Associate Professor of Graphic Communication at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. He is currently Visiting Professor at Hochschule München where he teaches in the Druck- und Medientechnik program. He writes about graphic arts processes and technologies for various industry publications, and on his blog, The Blognosticator.
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