While graphic sheets can be found in all the Wien Museum collections, the “History and City Life” Collection also accommodates a special group of items called “Popular Printed Graphics” which has evolved over time. It encompasses printed items from Viennese publishing houses from the late 18th through to the 20th century.
In the Age of Enlightenment, graphics became a mass product aimed at a bourgeois public. This was due not least of all to the invention of new printing techniques such as lithography (1798). Almanacs, playing cards or congratulation cards conveyed the new social and political ideas, and also frequently documented daily political events. Taking the form of cut-out sheets, board and card games or puzzles for youths, the graphic products were frequently didactic in character.
Among the most outstanding of the Wien Museum collection items of the 18th century are the copper engravings, almanacs, fans and games of the copper engraver and publisher Hieronymus Löschenkohl (1753-1807), as well as the sheets of the Artaria Publishing House. One key pictorial source of the city is the Artaria series titled “Aussichten der Residenzstadt Wien “ (“Views of the Imperial City of Vienna”) by Carl Schütz, Johann Ziegler and Laurenz Janscha (1779-1789). The most significant works from the Biedermeier period in this area come from the Matthäus Trentsensky Publishing House, comprising picture sheets as well as so-called “Mandl” sheets, and also games and theatre leaflets.
The collection contains extensive items in the area of playing cards and cardboard theatre. Sets of playing cards recalling the Turkish Siege of 1683 can be found here as well as “Das Musikalische Kartenspiel” (“The Musical Card Game”) by Löschenkohl (1806), tarot games with the title “Industrie und Glück” (“Industry and Fortune”) made by the playing cards factory Piatnik, or the “Constitutionstarock” (“Constitution Tarot”), a caricature of 1848, the year of the revolution. The cardboard theatre collection includes items of the “Great Theatre” and the “Mignon Theatre” by Trentsensky, and above all the Botuschan Collection, which is predominantly made up of products from German and Czech publishers.
Illustrations for books and magazines form a further special area of the collection. Among these are the copper plates of the “Eipeldauer-Briefe” (“Eipeldauer Letters”, 1785-1821), the picture supplements to the “Wiener Theaterzeitung” from the time before the Vormärz period, as well as original sketches by such well-known illustrators as Theodor Zasche. There are smaller sub-collections of devotional and saints’ pictures as well as congratulation cards, and those expressing friendship. The latter include important examples from the Classicism and Biedermeier periods, made mobile by a built-in mechanical device. These were considered a “Viennese speciality”.