Joseph Hertgen was a rare bird. Joseph was one of the few Lancaster printers who mastered the art of printing color images by stone lithography.
In 1892 Joseph founded the Lancaster Lithographing Company, next-door to D. B. Landis's Pluck Art Printing Parlor on East Chestnut Street. (At the site of today's Brunswick Hotel.)
In the 1890s Joseph printed colorful cigar-box labels for Lancaster's cigar makers.
The labels I show here are from Joseph's cigar-label sample book, which he used to advertise his printing business.
Above: Joseph printed this cigar box label in the 1890s, during of the "Golden Age of Stone Lithography." For each color on this cigar label, Joseph had to hand-stipple that color's design onto a heavy slab of Bavarian limestone, which was then pressed against the paper with a lithography press.
This red-rose cigar label would have required at least 6 limestone slabs, one for each color.
Above: Joseph also printed blank cigar box labels, which could later be printed with the the cigar maker's text.
He stamped an embossed design onto this label to create a 3-D effect. He also applied bronze powder to the label, to look like gold leaf.
Joseph E. Hertgen: A Chromolithography Timeline:
1829: Joseph's mother, Mary Klingler, is born in "Germany" according to the 1900 U.S. Census. Meanwhile, Joseph's father "B Hertgen" is born in a German-speaking community in Alsace-Lorraine, which today is part of France.
Mid 1800s: Joseph's parents emigrate to Boston, Massachusetts, where Joseph's father is employed as an engineer.
1848: Many skilled lithographers flee political unrest in Germany, and turn New York City into a Mecca of chromolithography printing.
May 14, 1868: Joseph is born in Boston. Meanwhile Louis Prang, another German-immigrant printer, is turning Boston into another epicenter of American chromolithography.
1871 to 1881: Joseph is a young student. He returns to the Alsace two times, with his parents, to attend school there. He studies in Boston, when he is not in the Alsace.
Early 1880s: Joseph moves to New York City, to study lithography. During this time, New York was a leading center of German-American lithography companies: Schumacher and Ettlinger, the Knapp Company, F. Hepenheimer and Company, George Schlegel, Witsch and Schmitt. etc. They were all printing chromolithograph labels for American cigar manufacturers.
1889: Joseph marries Philopena Blum, of Jersey City Heights, New Jersey. They eventually have two children. (Later, in Lancaster, the family lives on East Orange Street, and attends St. Anthony's Catholic Church.)
1892: Twenty-four-year-old Joseph moves here to Lancaster. He founds the Lancaster Lithographing Company in the Foltz Building at 34-36 East Chestnut Street, next-door to D. B. Landis' print shop, at 38 East Chestnut Stree. (Landis is 5 years older than Joseph, and had been printing at this address for four years.)
ca 1898: Joseph moves his lithography business into larger quarters up the street, into the brand-new Davidson Building, which is located at 11-17 West Chestnut Street. The building was designed by Lancaster's premier late-Victorian architect, C Emlen Urban.
1905: Joseph's "Hertgen Lithographing Company" now relocated to Lititz, and becomes Lititz Lithographing Company. Company officers are: Dr. J. C. Brobst, P. B. Bucher, W. M. Keissling, H. Reist Landis ...and Joseph.
1922: The company expands its business to focus on the manufacture of paper boxes. In 1922 the company soon becomes known as Lititz Paper Box and Printing Company.
1930: The company becomes the Simplex Paper Box Corporation. The company later moves to Hellam, Pennsylvania.
Today: The Simplex Paper Box Company's website is down, and no one answers their phone. (Did they close shop?)
Joseph's boxes are gone, but his chromolithograph cigar-box labels survive.
Above: In 1905 Joes moved his lithography printing company from Lancaster to Lititz. That same year he purchased this full-page advertisement in the book Historical and Pictorial Lititz.
This business was located in a shop on Water Street, near the railroad.
This book was published and printed in Lititz by John Zook and his Express Printing Company.