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What Is Broadside and What Is It Used For?

When it comes to talking about broadside, chances are we are going to discuss history as well. It is because of the use of a broadside, which refers to a large sheet of paper printed only on one side, was initially used as posters, event announcement, simply advertisements, or proclamations. The history of broadside can be traced to the 16th century, more particularly in Britain, North America, and Ireland in form of ephemera, temporary documents for a specific purpose and to be thrown away.

The classic example of the use of broadside for proclamation is the Dunlap broadside. The Dunlap broadside also referred to the first publication of the United States Declaration of Independence, which was printed on the night of 4 July 1776 in an estimated 200 copies by John Dunlap. Meanwhile, a classic example of a broadside for news information was the first publication of George Washington crossing the Delaware, printed by John Dunlap on 30 December 1776.

In the United Kingdom, broadsides were sold commonly at the public executions during the 18th and 19th centuries. The broadside for such purpose was produced often only by specialized printers, typically illustrated by a portrait of a criminal executed, obscene picture of the crime, or a simple picture of a woodcut of a hanging. Broadside sold at the public executions also stated a written account of the crime accomplished by the criminal, and often the confession of guilt of the criminal.

Originally, broadside was printed with large type. It was because of how the sheet of paper was meant to be read from certain distance. To create the large type, wood type was used since metal type couldn’t be cast far larger than an inch. Besides, metal type still retained the flat surface needed for letterpress relief printing. Large metal type was also expensive and took up large amount of space to store, not to mention how heavy it was. And even though the printer had a collection of large metal type, they most likely had no enough letters in the same face if they ever needed to set many words. Hence, a printer also often mixed the use of wooden type and metal type.

Today’s broadside printing is finished by smaller publishers and printers in form of a fine art variant, and with poems often being the one to print on the surface to be framed and then hung on the wall. It is also common for the poem printed to be signed by the poet or to show a design or illustration.

The artistic broadside designs today are suitable to serve as the decoration of your home interior as they are suitable for framing. You can also consider using them as a gift to give to your friend for special occasions. Surely, you need to make a little bit adjustment to make it fit as home decoration. Alternatively, you may be interested in collecting the broadsides instead. The use of broadsides today is now mostly for such purposes, regardless of their political and military origins.


A man who live among words

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