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  • Writer's pictureSteven Heller

When The Old Was New(s)

Dozens of trade magazines were published before, during and after the turn-of-the-century in the U.S. Representing the Arts & Crafts, proto-Art Nouveau tradition at least in its layout and presentation was William M. Patton’s Paper and Press Illustrated Monthly, which provided its audience of printers, binders and affiliated commercial artists a vivid view of the fashionable styles of the day through its editorial and advertising pages.

Patton was one of the major Philadelphia printing trade mag publisher. In the New England Stationer and Printer (1897) it was announced that he joined with the Avil Printing Company to publish “under his immediate supervision … what promises to be the most remarkable work on printing and the illustrative arts ever issued.” His book, The Graphics Age, covered “the facts and history in condensed form, arranged in chronological order for ready reference and preservation.” Like his Paper and Press magazine, it consisted of the rarest specimens in “fac-simile,” of the art handicraft of the various epochs touched upon, thus identifying and connecting those periods in the history of these arts contributing to their evolution and advancement up to and including our own time.

Focusing on decoration, illustration, typography and lettering arts, Patton’s mission was to show “the marvelous resources of these arts at the end of the nineteenth century.”

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