The Langstroth Collection contains over 1,000 original lithographs mounted on large poster boards, collected by Theodore A. Langstroth, a local businessman and avid student of Cincinnati prints and printmaking techniques. His collection covers the history of lithography and printmaking, including woodcuts from the 1600s, Asian prints, and twentieth-century offset and photolithographs, with a strong emphasis on the local artists and companies that made Cincinnati a nationally-renowned center of lithography.
The Collection also includes over a hundred scrapbooks compiled by Langstroth during decades spent rummaging through Cincinnati attics, bookstores, auctions, and junkshops. These scrapbooks encompass an impressive variety of material and themes. In Free and Public: One Hundred and Fifty Years at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County 1853-2003, John Fleischman writes, “Langstroth’s range in scrapbooks is astounding: cigar labels, World War I flying aces, Civil War “rebellion” envelopes, stock certificate engravings, the African American 54th Massachusetts Infantry, sheet music covers, the Great Blondin who walked a tightrope across Niagara Falls, Christmas and Memorial Day cards, early amusement parks, girls’ needlework samplers, boys handwriting exercises, paper made from tobacco stalks, and John Rettig, a 19th century Cincinnati painter and theatrical producer.”
The lithograph collection is not cataloged; however, the Genealogy and Local History Department maintains a card index to the lithographs. The Langstroth scrapbooks are cataloged and are housed in both the Genealogy and Local History Department and the Cincinnati Room. For assistance, ask at either department’s service desk—our staff will be happy to assist you!
About Theodore A. Langstroth
But I don’t think he ever saw the books as storage containers. They were singular creations in their own right, statements as much about the mind of Ted Langstroth as about John Rettig or coal tar dyes. They served another function too: they recalled the joys of the hunt. It was the finding, not the possessing, that thrilled him, and the books were the mounted trophies of his safari through the gatherer’s life.—John Fleischman
If you’re interested in learning more about Langstroth’s background and his passion for collecting, you’ll want to read “The Labyrinthine World of the Scrapbook King,” a fascinating Smithsonian Magazine article written by local author John Fleischman.
- Lithography in Cincinnati by Benjamin F. Klein. Descriptions of the many lithography companies based in Cincinnati during the 19th and early 20th century, examples of their work, and historical highlights. Fascinating reading for local history buffs.
- Stone by Stone Along a Hundred Years with the House of Strobridge by John W. Merten. “…a sketch of the colorful history of the Strobridge Lithography Company of Cincinnati, which in many respects is the history of lithography…and parallels the development of the art in the entire Ohio Valley. The illustrations are taken from the company’s files and are for the most part rare and little known.”
- Lithography: 200 Years of Art, History, & Technique. A lavishly illustrated overview of the “historical and aesthetic development” of lithography.
On the Web
- Grove Art Online: Lithography. A detailed history of lithography (you’ll need your library card and PIN to access this library database from home).
- Strobridge Calendar Cards. Information about the University of Cincinnati’s collection of calendar cards produced by the Strobridge Litography Company.
- Lewis Carroll Scrapbook Collection. The Library of Congress digitized an original scrapbook kept by the author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
- “Pictures From The Past Group Of Old Glass Plate Negatives Given to Cinti Public Library” Cincinnati Enquirer, March 17, 1968, p. 8
- “Mr. Strobridge’s Show: He Did So Well by Barnum-Bailey Ever So Long Ago,” Cincinnati Post, March 25, 1948, 9:2
- “Cincinnati Celebrates 160 Years of Printing (1794-1954),” Cincinnati Enquirer, January 17, 1954, (special section)
- “Cincinnati Prints Go to Circus Museum,” Cincinnati Enquirer, July 9, 1967, 12h:2
- “The Amateur Expert Apartment of Ted Langstroth is Treasure Trove of Studied Collection,” Cincinnati Enquirer, July 19, 1970, Enquirer Magazine p. 7
- “One Man’s Sanctuary,” Cincinnati Enquirer, March 30, 1977, The Enquirer Magazine p. 8
If you’re interested in reading any of these newspaper articles, contact our Magazines and Newspaper Department for assistance. Copies can be retrieved from microfilm.