BLUE FRONT FISS DOERR & CARROLL HORSE CO. 24th ST. 3rd AND LEXINGTON AVES. NEW YORK. Julius BIEN.
Superb Chromolithographed Advertising Broadside
New York City/ Advertising History/ Fine Printing.
[New York, 1897]

BLUE FRONT FISS DOERR & CARROLL HORSE CO. 24th ST. 3rd AND LEXINGTON AVES. NEW YORK.

23 x 16 3/ inches plus margins, Chromolithograph. Upper margin a bit trimmed, else fine, especially so for this type.

Very rare. This is one of the finest chromolithographed advertising broadsides we have seen; it was produced by the era's foremost practitioner of this printing technology.  Chromolithography is a complex and expensive process that involves separate printing stones for each color used; the result, however, as is evident here, are image of painterly richness.  This stunning work, which incorporates a sweeping aerial view of New York City and region, was produced for Fiss, Doerr & Carroll, the self-proclaimed “largest horse dealers in the world."  The evocation of New York's landscape in this work lies in its own realm half way between realism and something more impressionistic.  The use of chromolithography, especially in this dramatic fashion, was a way for a company to distinguish itself from inferior competitors who used inferior printing technology.

Fiss, Doerr & Carroll was formed in 1896 by the merger of horse dealers Fiss & Doerr and Carroll & Connelly.  In an 1897 interview with the marketing journal Printer’s Ink, founder Carroll boasted that the merged firm was selling a staggering 900 horses a week at auction.  In that same interview, he provides insight into what was involved in the production of this broadside:

“Four thousand eight hundred dollars [of a $30,000 marketing budget]… will be devoted this year to a map of Greater New York, together with pictures of the company’s buildings and portraits of the firm’s members.  This is said to be the most accurate map of Greater New York thus far published.  The plate, which is in 18 colors, cost $3,000; 25,000 copies of it are to be distributed among our customers and business houses, framed and covered with glass.” (Printer’s Ink, vol. XVIII no. 13 (March 31, 1897), p. 10)

The “Blue Front” of the title refers to the blue facades of the company’s buildings, both of which are pictured in vignette illustrations in the upper left.  As evidenced by the signs thereon, one of these housed the firm’s auction department and the other their retail operations.  After the turn of the century these were supplanted by a massive seven-story stable and a single-story auction mart with an elegant Beaux-Arts façade.  Fiss, Doerr & Carroll’s market dominance however did not stand in the way of progress, and in 1907 the firm announced that it would begin selling gasoline trucks (The Power Wagon, Apr. 1907, p. 4).  The horse-trading business entered an inexorable decline, and in 1928 the auction mart was sold to R&T Garage Company.   

The purported print run of 25,000 of this broadside is exceedingly large—even allowing for hyperbole on Carroll’s part; nevertheless, today it is extremely rare.  We know of but one other impression, in the PJ Mode Collection at Cornell.

Lithographer Julius Bien (1826-1909) is best known for his chromolithographic, elephant folio edition of Audubon’s Birds of America, printed between 1858 and 1862. Jay Last notes that “in the 1860’s Bien began to specialize in the production of lithographed maps and charts. For the rest of the century, he produced maps for nearly all the major American geographical and geological publications and for the decennial census reports. Bien developed new coloring and shading techniques, was an early user of photolithography, and was instrumental in establishing scientific standards for American cartography” (The Color Explosion, pp. 36-37).  It is not surprising, then, that Fiss, Doerr and Carroll should have turned to Bien to print an advertisement featuring a map. 

Persuasive Maps: PJ Mode Collection, 2208. As of October 2017, not in OCLC, Antique Map Price Record, Phillips, or Rumsey.

https://digital.library.cornell.edu/catalog/ss:19343598

https://digital.library.cornell.edu/catalog/ss:19343598

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