A Scrapbook Timeline
Greek and Roman times
The word album dates from a time when edicts and other announcements were written on stone or metal or wood (but white) tablets.
Medieval times
Scribes sometimes extended their work to produce emblem books, which were bound pages of drawings with accompanying interpretations of allegorical meaning.
Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574) wrote about hundreds of artists in his Lives of the Most Eminent Italian Architects, Painters, and Sculptors. Vasari advocated keeping works of art in albums and his method was to influence the beginnings of museums and libraries all over the world.
From this century dates the development of commonplace books, in which "good sayings and notable observations" were recorded.
In this year, Shakespeare directs Hamlet to write into his tables or his commonplace book. "Smile and smile and be a villain" Hamlet says as he records notes to himself.
The popularity of the Kunstkammer among the wealthy reaches a decided peak. This, the cabinet of curiosities, was a room or chest where could be kept objects such as stuffed monkeys, botanicals, statuary, jewelry, and diverse exotica. The album found a home, then, within the kunstkammer or was itself the poor man’s cabinet of curiosities.
This period also witness the development of the use of albums to keep prints and drawings. Following Vasari’s advice "serious amateurs, including Samuel Pepys, preserved most of their prints in this way. Such volumes constituted the backbone of every collection or 'cabinet' formed during that period. These albums are rare in the United States but much more common in Europe where the tradition of making them continued up until the 20th century. A large proportion of the 20 million prints in the Bibliothèque Nationale are still in such volumes."*
The use of a commonplace book becomes even more popular after John Locke publishes his New Method of Making Common-Place Books in which he instructed others on how best to preserve proverbs, maxims, ideas, reference, mediation, self cultivation, and speeches.
William Granger publishes a history of England, in which he introduces extra prints illustrative of its text. In a later edition, he extends this idea by including blank pages on which could be pasted whatever appropriate illustration a purchaser might choose. Once conceived, a grangerized book came to mean a sort of hybrid in which pages are changed sometimes disbound and rebound, and/or altered by the addition of illustrations, letters, autographs or other placements. These strange combinations of printed book and scrapbook, also known as extra-illustrated books, reached the zenith of their popularity in the 19th century.
Color printing revolutionizes contact with the visual world. Though not yet frequently used across Europe, the late 1790s saw the beginning of this technology.
Scraps (die-cut glossy printed paper images) appear. Developed in Germany, these glandzbilder, chromos, or scraps were the leftovers of a printing job, and were sometimes recycled to the bakers' trade for wrapping special breads. Collectors then became interested in preserving them in scrapbooks or as one would say in Danish, glansbillede albums. These albums would become most popular in the late nineteenth century but their appearance as early as 1799 was met with much excitement.
1800 - 1900
The early nineteenth century was the heyday of the friendship album, a book in which people kept the autographs, poetry, prose, and wishes of their friends. Often passed between old and new acquaintances, these books were increasingly considered a feminine form of keeping memories.
1800 - 1900
Other printing inventions and improvements in engraving, letterpress and lithography resulted in more collectible paper. Ephemera, throwaway printed paper artifacts, became a part of everyday life.
The publication of The Complete Course of Lithography by Senefelder popularized chromolithography, extending the reach of chromos to England and the Americas.
Publisher John Taylor makes available A Pocket Common Place with Locke Index, thus furthering the reach of John Locke and the tradition of the commonplace book.
By this date, the term scrapbook was common enough that a serial called The Scrapbook was issued, which defined the hobby as the keeping of a blank book in which pictures, newspaper cuttings, and the like are pasted for preservation. Scrapbooks marketed widely throughout the nineteenth century included ShipmentÕs Common Sense Binder, The Alexander Graham Bell Scrapbook, and The Ideal Patented Scrapbook among others.
Louis-Jacques Daguerre invents the daguerreotype, the first practical process of photography. His invention (in which he had been helped by Joseph Nicéphore Niepce and Claude Félix Abel Niepce de Saint-Victor) will be quickly followed by improvements from many others. Collectively, these inventors provide a new item to include in scrapbooks -- photographs -- and change forever the way we remember our own lives.
Daguerreotype and Calotype processes are made public, hence the Òbirth of photographyÓ is often given as 1839.
Members of the American Anti-Slavery Society begin clipping from the Southern press, accumulating evidence of the cruelty of slavery in the words of the slaveholders. The anti-slavery forces amass these clippings in a scrapbook, which they publish as American Slavery As It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses. In the next decade, this book would be as important as StoweÕs Uncle TomÕs Cabin in advocating an end to slavery.
William Henry Fox Talbot publishes the first book with photographs, The Pencil of Nature. Talbot is important for many reasons, but especially in terms of scrapbook history, for his invention of a process that includes negatives, and thus multiple prints of photographs, and for his work about producing photographs on paper.
Louis Désiré Blanquard-Evard improves on Talbot's Calotype process and sets up a photographic printing establishment.
Blanquard-Evard introduces albumen printing paper and assembles albums of photographs for customers.
Mathew Brady issues the Gallery of Illustrious Americans, an album of 12 lithographic portraits from photographs. Available on a subscription basis, the portraits might be seen as a forerunner to many ÒfalseÓ scrapbooks that will be popular throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. With such publications, the images of politicians and other stars come into the homes of many Americans.
Hippolyte Bayard, Eugene Appert, Henry Peach Robinson, Oscar Rejlander, and others experiment with photomontage. Amateur photographers will use similar techniques, as well, to add to albums and scrapbooks.
Talbot patents a prototype of photo-engraving, a precursor to the development in the 1880s of the more successful halftone plates.
Alphonse Poitevin, a French chemist, discovers two methods for printing with potassium bichromate; these methods develop into photolithography and carbon printing.
Carte-de-visite photographs arrive in the U.S., producing a craze similar to one begun with their introduction in Europe (1854). Carte-de-visite albums contain a pocket for the insertion of photographs.
First advertisement in the national press for photographic albums is printed in Harpers Weekly 4., no. 208 (December 22, 1860):815.
Mark Twain markets his patented scrapbook. Twain made $50,000 from these scrapbooks, described as self-pasting and available though Daniel Slote and Company. Use but little moisture and only on the gummed lines. Press the scrap on without wetting it. Twain held patents in England, France and the U.S. and worked hard to improve his self-pasting methods.
Eastman Dry Plate Company founded
Stephen Horgan's "A Scene in Shantytown" is printed in 'halftone' in the New York Daily Graphic. Thus begins an era where people may clip photographs as well as the written word from the newspaper and other publications.
E. W. Gurley publishes Scrap-books and How to Make Them, a book that notes the foolishness of letting a good article go to waste. Scrapbooks are necessary. The American public now has 8000 newspapers, as opposed to 2 in the times of Franklin. [Too] Gossipy reading can be cured if we read for a purpose, look for something, and keep it when found...in the pages of a good scrapbook.
Frederick Ives invents photoengraving process.
Frederick E. Ives further develops the halftone engraving process such that it becomes possible to reproduce photographic images in the same operation as printed text.
Eastman markets the Kodak camera and roll film.
The New Orleans Times Picayune promotes the scrapbook in a society column, noting that a memory book is an interesting tablet for the girl of the present time to keep.....One New Orleans girl who is famous for her beauty and favoritism in the social world...has a record of her social triumphs perpetuated in her memory book, as well as several very charming sketches of herself....
W.E.B. Dubois publishes his The Philadelphia Negro; a Social Study. In the preface, he acknowledges his debt to William Dorsey and his collection of scrapbooks. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Dorsey created some 300 scrapbooks, cutting from the press to accumulate a vast resource on the lives of African-Americans.
First mass-marketed camera, The Brownie, appears.
Publishers such as Dodd, Mead; Paul Elder; Lippincott; and others tap into the market for scrapbooks by publishing illustrated and annotated books for school children, high school and college women, and new mothers. Also published are bride books and first communion books. Organizations wishing to commemorate the passing of their members even have bound books for death notices.
The postcard fad adds another dimension to collecting. Some albums and scrapbooks are marketed particularly for these cards.
Panchromatic plates marketed by Wratten & Wainright. Off-set lithography invented.
Picasso and Braque, followed by many others such as Juan Gris and Joseph Cornell, experiment with collage. Of revolutionary importance in modern art, collage was the ÒhighÓ art of something many scrapbook makers would recognize as their own technique of cutting and pasting.
The photo album, first created in the 19th century, becomes the most common form of scrapbook in the 20th century.
The Billy Rose Theatre Collection of New York Public Library is given a donation of some 300 scrapbooks filled by one man and his staff. The collection was received with the stipulation that approximately 18 boxes of ephemera would be added to new scrapbooks.
Xexox copying machine introduced.
Kodak 156 Instammatic cartridge camera introduced.
T. Harry Williams publishes his biography of Huey Long. Like other historians, Williams relies often on the scrapbooks of news clippings, thus offering a Louisiana example of how such albums are cited by scholars.
Creative Memories, a direct sales company, begins marketing of scrapbooks, creating a new craze for this form of memory keeping.
*See http://www.well.com/user/bronxbob/resume/54_7-93.html -- Scrapbooks, the Smiling Villains by Robert DeCandido
** For a bibliography on scrapbooks see http://www.tulane.edu/~wclib/susan.html --Scrapbooks and Albums, Theories and Practice: An Annotated Bibliography by Danielle Bias, Rebecca Black, and Susan Tucker