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Jacquelyn A. Ottman Collection of J. Ottmann Lithographing Company

Call Number

PR 281


1880-1911, inclusive


Ottman, Jacquelyn A.


0.5 Linear feet in 1 box.

Language of Materials

13 items in this collection are in German.

Biographical Note

Jacob Ottmann (1849-1889) was born in Meisenheim, Prussia and immigrated to New York with his mother and seven brothers and sisters in 1863. Ottmann began his lithographic career in 1867 as a clerk at Ferdinand Mayer & Company, after deciding against joining his family's Fulton Market meat business. In 1874, Ottmann signed on as junior partner with the firm of Mayer and Merkel, located at 22-24 Church Street; the firm was then renamed Mayer, Merkel & Ottmann. In 1879 Mayer, Merkel & Ottmann moved to 21-25 Warren Street, which was also the business location of the firm's most renowned client, Puck magazine.

Puck was founded in 1871 in St. Louis by Josef Ferdinand Keppler, an Austrian-born cartoonist and caricaturist. Named for Puck, the impish character celebrated by Shakespeare in "A Midsummer Night's Dream", it began as a weekly humor magazine and was the first magazine in America to offer color illustrations. After the magazine's initial run in St. Louis as a single sheet proved unsuccessful, Keppler moved to New York City. In September 1876, the first Puck magazine was printed in New York City in German on the presses of Mayer, Merkel and Ottmann. An English version followed in March 1877.

The first issues were printed on a plain black press, followed by simple and then increasingly more complex multichromatics. Eventually, Puck evolved into a thirty-two page issue which sold for ten cents. Each issue contained a full-color political cartoon on the front cover and a color non-political cartoon or comic strip on the back cover. There was always a double-page centerfold, usually on a political topic. Inside, numerous black and white cartoons illustrated the humorous anecdotes, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and editorials. In addition to co-publisher Keppler, the group of cartoonists included Dalyrymple, C.J. Taylor, F.M. Howarth, Fred Opper and J.S. Pughe. The last few pages contained ads.

In 1885, Mayer and Merkel retired from the firm and Ottmann took over the business, renaming it J. Ottmann Lithographing Company. That same year, Ottmann joined with the publishers of Puck magazine, Joseph Keppler and Adolph Schwarzmann, to commission construction of a new office building on Houston Street. By 1886, the Puck Building, today a New York City historic landmark, was ready for occupation. Ottmann died in November 1889. The J. Ottmann Lithographing Company continued in business until the first decade of the 20th century, after which it merged with the United States Printing and Lithographing Company. Jacquelyn A. Ottman is the great niece of Jacob Ottmann.


The collection is arranged into 6 series by format:

Series I. German language magazines (full issues)

Series II. English language magazines (full issues)

Series III. Tear Sheets from Puck Magazine

Series IV. Toys and Games

Series V: Cards and Prints

Series VI: Publications

The material within each series is arranged chronologically.


J. Ottman Consulting, Inc. "J. Ottman Consulting Celebrates J. Ottmann Lithographing". New York, J. Ottman Consulting, 2009.

"Large Fire in Warren Street", New York Times. 17 Mar, 1882:8

Last, Jay T. The Color Explosion: Nineteenth-Century American Lithography. Santa Ana, CA: Hillcrest Press, 2005:112-113.

"Notable Manufacturers", King's Handbook of New York City. Ed., Moses King. Boston: Moses King, 1892:885.

Scope and Content

The Jacquelyn A. Ottman Collection of J. Ottmann Lithographing Company contains items produced by the J. Ottmann Lithographing Company (and its predecessor Mayer, Merkel and Ottmann) between 1880-1911. The bulk of the collection is comprised of complete issues of, and tear sheets from, Puck magazine. Puck, founded in 1871 in St. Louis by Josef Ferdinand Keppler, began as a weekly humor publicaton and was the first magazine in America to offer color illustrations. Examples of these illustrations, including political cartoons, caricatures, and comic strips, can be found in Series I-III.

The collection also includes examples of the wide variety of other work produced by J. Ottmann Lithographing Company, including board games, paper doll kits, advertising cards, and postcards. The items in this collection items were gathered and preserved over the course of three decades by Ottmann's great-niece, Jacquelyn A. Ottman. The collection also includes a copy Jacquelyn A. Ottman's 2016 memoir, "Ottman and Company: One Daughter Remembers."

Many pieces in this collection were part of the exhibit, "J. Ottman Consulting Celebrates J. Ottmann Lithographing" at the Puck Building, September 14-24, 2009. More information on the exhibit and specific pieces in the collection can be found in the collection file, held in the Print Room.

Conditions Governing Access

Materials in this collection may be stored offsite. For more information on making arrangements to consult them, please visit

Conditions Governing Use

Taking images of documents from the library collections for reference purposes by using hand-held cameras and in accordance with the library's photography guidelines is encouraged. As an alternative, patrons may request up to 20 images per day from staff.

Application to use images from this collection for publication should be made in writing to: Department of Rights and Reproductions, The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024-5194, Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 282.

Copyrights and other proprietary rights may subsist in individuals and entities other than the New-York Historical Society, in which case the patron is responsible for securing permission from those parties. For fuller information about rights and reproductions from N-YHS visit:

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as: Jacquelyn A. Ottman Collection of J. Ottmann Lithographing Company, PR 281, Department of Prints, Photographs and Architectural Collections, New-York Historical Society.

Location of Materials

Materials in this collection may be stored offsite. For more information on making arrangements to consult them, please visit


The collection was donated by Jacquelyn A. Ottman in January 2010 with additions in 2019.

Related Materials

The New-York Historical Society also holds The Joseph Keppler Cartoon Collection (PR 29) containing original lithographs by Keppler for Puck magazine.

Collection processed by

Paula Wagner with additions by Susan Kriete. Revised by Marybeth Kavanagh.

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-21 15:46:50 -0400.
Using Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language: Finding Aid is written in English.


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