The Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution saw a large-scale shift from rural to urban life throughout Europe in the mid-1800s. There were massive changes in the nature of work, the consumer economy, women's roles in society, and even in the size and nature of families. Up to this time most consumer products were essentially luxuries that served what was known as “the carriage trade,” or upper-class customers. New machinery and technologies brought about new products and services that were now available to the masses. Railways and steamships made it easier to move goods over long distances, and manufacturers marketed and distributed consumer goods nationally and internationally as a result. Packaging design grew alongside these developments.

Three important innovations arose almost simultaneously at the end of the nineteenth century:

  • The commercial development of lithography
  • The invention of the papermaking machine
  • The development of American packaging

The printing method of lithography, invented by Alois Senefelder in 1798, was a significant milestone in the history of packaging design and was advanced by methods of industrial production. Since everything from cardboard boxes and wooden crates to bottles and tins had a paper label, the lithographic process of printing labels greatly enhanced packaging technologies.

The Linotype (“line of type”) composing machine, invented in 1884 by Ottmar Mergenthaler, was regarded as the greatest advance in printing since the development ...

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