Wisconsin antique bottle and advertising club

Coshocton, Ohio August 2014

by Linda Hoffman - Published in November/December 2015 Issue #198 American Breweriana Journal

My sister Sue and I went on a journey from Milwaukee Wisconsin to view Advertising Art of Coshocton County exhibit at the Johnson -Humrickhouse Museum. We took Highway 16 for the last 15 miles of our trip to Coshocton, Ohio and exited the freeway at 541. We stopped for lunch at Bob Evans, an Ohio chain. Sue had pot roast with biscuits and I ate chicken salad. We then proceeded to the show located at 300 N. Whitewoman St. in the Roscoe Village of Coshocton, Ohio. (Note-my childhood home address in Oconomowoc Wisconsin was 540 West Wisconsin Avenue, AKA Highway 16)

While the JHH receptionist called Joe Kreitzer to notify him of our arrival, Sue and I walked into the gift shop to browse. Immediately inside the shop’s doorway arranged on a table were greeting cards. I saw a Santa Claus on a chimney on the first card and a window glimpsing the sunrise for the New Year on the next one. (Figure 1)Both cards themes resembled same of Thomas Holmes annual family Christmas cards. I purchased one of each. Sue texted the images for my mother, Joanne to see and she agreed with me.
Joe Kreitzer arrived and gave us a private tour on the second floor of the Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum.  Joe along with Bill Carlisle, the curators, each contributed 45% from their private collections for this exhibit at the museum.  Coshocton’s artist colony was second to New York at the turn of the century with 5-6 lithograph companies employing people from almost every family in Coshocton. The designers and illustrators hailed from Germany and Chicago. 
The museum acquired the town’s first printing press right before it was destined to become scrap metal on a dock. We walked into the exhibit to a huge room filled to capacity with advertising artworks. Joe said “A woman visited the exhibit and stepped back in awe as she entered here. She asked if she could photograph all of these pieces for a DVD. “We said yes and every one of the objects were taken down and photographed individually.” The show was set up with the earliest 1890 pieces arranged first through 1950. The earliest advertising piece displayed was a burlap school bag with a shoe company advertising. 
The museum was named after the Johnson and Humrick families. The four Johnson brothers married the four Humrick sisters. Two of the Johnson’s acquired artwork on their world travels including Asia and Alaska, plus a Native American cache of objects. A large number of Native American points and tools were discovered under an excavated house in Coshocton and are part of the museum’s permanent collection.
 The American Art Works Company first produced the ‘pie plate’ serving tray. (Tom’s original GITM) H. D. Beach Company later produced the second beer tray image update of Tom’s GITM featuring Ruth.  Beach Leather printed advertising on leather goods. Novelty Advertising Company specialized in calendars and thermometers. Some of the lithograph companies offered stock images like the Hawaiian dancer, hunting dog, beautiful young woman, etc. as well as custom designs for their clients businesses. Coca-Cola advertising trays and signs, etc. were produced here, too. The local legend continues today that a Coshocton young lady posed for one the Coke ads.
Two rathskellar/tavern scene litho pieces had the seated white-haired man with beard, heavy-set jolly faced monk and a black and white dog just like Uncle Tom’s early rathskellar ad for Miller Brewing Company. Next, a display case contained the ‘still’ for Tom’s Chief Joseph image R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. (Figure 2)Bill commented this chief was also used on a flour company ad. (I will look into at home.)I commented on a San Francisco tray with horse and rider like a photo set up of Tom’s for Remington.
Mike, another museum exhibitor arrived with his wife Mary Ann. Mike showed us his large 1939 lithograph sign of a circus scene depicting clowns and elephants, etc. He said it was the winning image for a contest. Mike told me he expected to see me at the NBA (National Breweriana Association) annual convention August 1-3 in Toledo, Ohio. 
Bill Carlisle, the other major lithograph museum show contributor has been to Potosi, WI and was invited to exhibit a breweriana collection at the National Brewery Museum. He is the author of Men of Steel a History of Coshocton, Ohio Lithograph Companies (currently under revision) Bill is also a member of the ABA. He recently planted 6000 Oak trees on his Ohio farm.
Joe demonstrated how to gamble spinning a rare tip tray with horses illustrated.  Joe informed Sue and I that the signs were made from steel and pulp, not tin and cardboard. We looked at numerous business trays, thermometers and memorabilia. One white oval tray advertised ‘eat a pig sandwich’ depicting a large sow, another tray was for an ice cream company. Another large collection from a former lithograph business contained preserved, employee group photographs, employee company picnic pins, leather coin purses, etc. At the ‘End of the day’ at litho companies,  many employees cut out an image on a tray like a dog, to take home or printed an image upside down to keep. The leftover litho paint was splattered on metal sheet to later frame and hang as artwork in their homes. Stacks of flawed trays were left at the employee time clock for the taking. 
Advertising trays could be purchased cheaply at a local rummage sale with many more available in the attic. Churches painted over trays and used for pancake breakfasts. Sometimes trays were used to line tool boxes. Another use was to bend trays to form a cover over a cistern. Many imperfect trays were thrown in the area dump, later to be dug up, rusty and sold as is in large numbers in Florida antique stores.
The Coshocton lithograph companies no longer exist. Several of the buildings are still standing and one has recycled tires and rubber for playgrounds and paving. The town’s foundation has restored part of the village area. There are also private merchants in a fascinating place to visit.
Joe invited Sue and I to have a beer after our tour. We accepted and walked on the cobblestone sidewalk a few doors down to the Steak and Stein outdoor café. (Figure 3) I ordered a Blue Moon in memory of my grandma’s favorite place to go dancing in Elgin, Illinois. Joe had a Weasel Boy. 8-10 people joined us. The hospitality was genuine Americana. The Johnson-Humrick Museum lithograph show gave exhibit viewers a rare glimpse into a valuable collection of the illustrations and advertising pieces once again popular in today’s décor.

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