Louis Prang 1824-1909

Louis Prang portrait

Louis Prang was born in 1824 in Breslau, Silesia (present day Poland). He studied printing and dyeing techniques in Bohemia before immigrating as a political refugee to America in 1850. Louis Prang settled in Boston and went on to develop chromolithography from which today's printing industry was established.

By the late 19th century America, Prang's name was synonymous with art materials and art education. Louis Prang died in 1909 at the age of 85. His name is engraved on the base of the Statue of Liberty along with other immigrants who made great contributions to the United States.

Louis Prang was America's first art educator. In his day, art education was only for amateur artists and young ladies in finishing school. Louis Prang believed that all children should study art, and that artistic experience and observation quickens the imagination and independence of expression. Louis Prang developed instructional guides and a complete educational curriculum; then trained the country's first art instructors. He printed reproductions of famous art works and published the first American textbooks: "Art in the School Room" and "Art Education in High Schools," as well as, drawing books, and art history books. He even supplied upstart art programs with Prang chalks, crayons, and paints. Louis Prang devoted his characteristic energy and enthusiasm to his vision. After over thirty years of commitment, art education became an accepted part of the American school curricula, as well as a respected profession.

Having developed chromolithography, Louis Prang was the first person to create and publish the first Christmas Cards produced in America in 1874. Prang launched into production and instigated national competitions for design and verse. His cards are generally accepted as the start of the greeting card industry in the United States which earned him the title "Father of the American Christmas Card". It is difficult to exaggerate the excitement generated by these Christmas cards. Young ladies are said to have noted in their diaries how many "Prang's" they had received that year.

Prang's factory in Boston became a tourist attraction with Louis Prang often conducting the tours himself. The L. Prang Company later evolved into business & trade cards, announcements, and advertising.

Spurred by the educational need to teach his young daughter art, Louis Prang developed non-toxic watercolors. They were the first in a series of child-safe art materials developed by Prang. In 1856, Germany enjoyed a virtual monopoly supplying art products to America. Mr. Prang looked for an American company that could meet or exceed Germany's high quality standards. He found the American Crayon Company and contracted exclusively with them to make his watercolors. In 1918, the American Crayon Company acquired the rights to use the Prang name and to produce Prang's art materials. In 1957, the American Crayon Company merged with Joseph Dixon Crucible Company, which is known as Dixon Ticonderoga Company today.

Originally known as the Paramenter Crayon Company, the American Crayon Company began making and selling chalk in Waltham, Massachusetts. They are recognized as being the world's oldest and largest manufacturers of crayons since 1835. The Paramenter Crayon Company merged with The Western School Supply company founded in the 1860's. It soon became recognized both nationally and internationally for its contributions to schools. Eventually, The Western School Supply company became the American Crayon Company.

Dixon Ticonderoga Company continues to manufacture Prang products with pride, maintaining the same high standards of excellence established by Louis Prang.

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