Broadsheets and Show Posters
Poster art is a form of communication that has roots in antiquity, in the form of painted announcements and proclamations. But it was the increasing urbanization of the Industrial Revolution that caused the printed poster to flourish. By the early nineteenth century, broadsides, theater handbills, and proliferating product advertisements joined the lettered and pictorial signage of shops and taverns to create an urban street literature of promotions. As technological improvements in presses, printing, and papermaking made possible large sizes, vibrant colors, and an array of pictorial effects, the modern poster began to evolve.
In America, advertisements for circuses and various traveling shows, printed in large, multi-sheet sizes, dominated other types of posted advertising. Often in town for only one day, these shows depended heavily on the “ballyhoo” of dramatic pictures and exaggerated rhetoric to draw an audience.