Arbuckles Coffee was the most famous coffee company in the United States in the second part of the nineteenth century. Begun just after the Civil War by brothers John and Charles Arbuckle, the company came up with a means by which they could sell pre-roasted "Ariosa" coffee in one pound bags.
Prior to this, coffee beans were sold green, and they had to be roasted before use on a wood stove or over a skillet. John Arbuckle came up with the process where they coasted the roasted beans with an egg white and sugar glaze, which allowed them to retain their freshness. They then packaged them in one pound bags and sent them around the coutry.
Arbuckle’s coffee became a favorite around the country, especially out west where the cowhands were able to get a consistent cup of good tasting coffee. Such was their fame and wide-spread use that “Arbuckles” became a generic name for coffee. Arbuckles became known as “the coffee that won the West.”
The Arbuckle firm was innovative in their marketing, as well as processing, and they came up with a number of schemes to promote their coffee, including packaging a peppermint stick with each bag. In the 1880s they began to issue a number of series of small, colorful “trading cards” of different subjects, done with colorful chromolithography by the printmaking firm of Donaldson Brothers. Each bag contained one of the trading cards, with the idea that customers would try to collect all the cards in a series.
The series included different subjects, including animals, sports, food, historic scenes, and—one of their most popular—maps of states and the nations of the world. The state series were published in 1889 and included a map of the state surrounded by vignette scenes from the state, as well as various statistics. The verso of each card included an advertisement of Arbuckles Ariosa Coffee.
The state map series proved so popular that in 1915 the company came out with an updated series of these cards. The maps sometimes had new vignettes, the statistics were updated, and roads added.
Welcome to the Antique Prints Blog, a blog about original prints from the seventeenth to the early twentieth century, with a primary focus on historical prints of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This is a blog for anyone interested in this topic. Comments and suggestions are always welcome.
Christopher W. Lane is owner of The Philadelphia Print Shop West, in Denver. In 1982, he founded, along with Donald H. Cresswell, the Philadelphia Print Shop. He moved to Denver in 2010. Besides buying and selling, Chris researches, lectures and writes extensively on old prints and maps. He has written numerous articles that have appeared in journals and books, as well as a series of booklets on print and map collecting. Chris has also authored Prints of Philadelphia (1990 with D.H. Cresswell), Impressions of Niagara (1993) and Panorama of Pittsburgh (2008), and has curated several print exhibitions. In 1991, Chris was on the “panel of experts” for the American Historical Print Collectors Society’s project of the New Best 50 Currier & Ives prints. Beginning in 1997, Chris has appeared as the regular print and map appraisers for public television’s Antiques Roadshow.