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Printed Ephemera of Visual Culture, 1820-1920
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                                 John Grossman ~ A Notable Person

Mr. Grossman was the founder of The John Collection of Antique Images assembled 1974-2012 as one of the foremost collections of graphic ephemera in the United States and maybe the world. Over 250,000 printed and handwritten paper artifacts representing the finest commercially printed images produced approximately between 1820-1920 form a comprehensive portrait of Victorian everyday life.

John Grossman was born in Des Moines, Iowa, July 20, 1932. A commercial art major in high school, his work received a number of scholastic art awards, and was a scholarship recipient for the Minneapolis School of Art in 1950.  After service in the Army (1952-1954), he worked as a lettering artist in San Francisco.  A trip to Europe ensued, 1956-1958, spent mostly in Paris where he attended the Cours de la Civilization Francaise at the Sorbonne.

Returning to San Francisco in 1959, Grossman was a freelance graphic designer,  a lettering and graphic instructor at the San Francisco Art Institute that included further exhibitions, he was awarded many Certificates of Merit and of Distinction, Award of Excellent as well as positions of Art Director 1964 Citizens for Goldwater-Miller and a position in Governor Ronald Reagan 1970 Campaign Graphic Designer of all campaign materials.

In 1964 Grossman also began oil painting, and his works were the basis for several one man shows in San Francisco (1968, 1969 and 1972). A major showing spanning six years of his work was mounted at the Haggin Museum in Stockton, California in 1972 and 1978.

He was appointed by Governor Ronald Reagan to the California Arts Commission in 1967, serving as Vice-Chairman and then as Chairman from 1969-1970.  In 1971, his painting “California Golden Hills” was presented to the Emperor and Empress of Japan by Governor Reagan during his trip to the Orient as a special emissary of President Nixon. Governor Reagan then presented “Late Afternoon in the California Hills” to President Luis Escheverria during a private audience in the Presidential Palace in Mexico City in 1972.  Four of his paintings were on exhibit in the Governor’s office throughout Reagan’s two terms in office. A John Grossman painting also hung on the wall of President Reagan’s dining room in the vacation home in the Santa Ynez Mountains northwest of Santa Barbara, California.
An estimated 207 paintings  were created between 1966 and 1980. All of Grossman’s works are in private, corporate, and institutional collections.

His illustrated biography appeared in Who’s Who in California, 1971-72, 1973, 1976, 1977, 1979-80, 1981-82.

Grossman and his wife, Carolyn founded a California stationery and giftware company The Gifted Line (1984-1998)  using only The Collection as the source of inspiration and design for all the company products With a strong public interest in Victoriana and cherished sentimentality for a bygone era, numerous articles had been written about The John Grossman Collection of Antique Images and The Gifted Line in publications like Better Homes & Gardens, Victoriana Magazine, The Inside Collector, Gift Reporter, US Today and various newspapers across the country.

Commissioned by US Postal Service, Grossman co-designed with designer Laura Alders six 1995 Christmas stamps and two 1999 Victorian Love stamps with designer Holly Sudduth. The Love stamps were the first US self-adhesive stamps to be die-cut to the shape of the image, which was his concept.

Beginning in 1989 through 2011, Grossman had authored two books, co-authored ten books and licensed The Collection to publish ten additional books featuring exclusive use of various Victorian images.

A member of The Ephemera Society of America since 1981, and a past member of the Board, Grossman was the recipient of the 1990 Maurice Rickards Award presented by the Society for his promotion of the public awareness of ephemera. His research paper, "Chromolithography and the Cigar Label," was presented at the Society’s fifth symposium in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1995. It was published in The Ephemera Journal, Volume 9, 2001. His presentation "Labeling America'" on the George Schlegel Lithographic Company, was given at the Ephemera 25 Conference, 2005.

As keynote speaker at the Centennial meeting, Grossman gave The Maurice Rickards Memorial Lecture before The Ephemera Society, London, UK, in June 2000,  He had been a member of that society since 1980, as well as a member of The Golden Glow of Christmas Past, a Christmas collector's organization, The National Valentine Collectors Association and as Board Member, Smithsonian Associates, The American Antiquarian Society, and The Planetary Society.

The Collection renamed The John and Carolyn Grossman in 2008 is now owned and located at The Winterthur Estate, Gardens and Library, Winterthur, Delaware. The Grossmans also donated their extensive art and design library, The John and Carolyn Grossman Reference Library in 2013. All 2,214 volumes are cataloged online by the Library. Grossman’s personal and professional archives, and the archives of The Gifted Line, were donated to the Winterthur Library in November 2014. In recognition of their gifts, Winterthur Library named the library reading room for research The John and Carolyn Grossman Reading Room.

On August 20, 2016, after five years of declining health, Grossman passed away in Arizona after living in Tucson with Carolyn for over nine years.

                                                            Major Career Phases

1942-1946  Early childhood home made comic book “Sea Comics” 24 “issues”

1946-1947  Created and drew with classmates a daily comic page, “The Funnies,” passed around in a junior high class

1942-1950   Science fiction pen and ink drawings and illustrations

1948-1949   Published with Bill Kroll 4 issues of a professionally lithographed science fiction fanzine “Scientifantasy”

1946-1950   Junior and senior high school artwork and school paper cartoons

1947-1950   12 Scholastic Achievement Art Awards

1948-1952, 1954-56, 1959-67   Lettering professional

1950  Scholarship. Minneapolis School of Art

1952-1954  US Army, Fort Ord, California

1956-1958  Trip to Europe to study French Language and Civilization at the Sorbonne, employment at the American Embassy, 2 sketch books, travel

1960-1966  Letterforms and graphic design instructor, San Francisco Art Institute

1960-1970  Art Director awards, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York. 1960s . Posters reproduced in the International Poster Annual 1967-70, exhibited in the Museum of Industrial Safety, Amsterdam, 1970
1960-1984  Graphic designer, book designer

1964  Art Director, Citizens for Goldwater-Miller, Washington DC 1964

1967-1972  California Arts Commission vice chairman, chairman1967-72. Initiated 1970 statewide touring art exhibition “Horizons” mounted on unique system

1966-1980 Exhibitions: Painter in oils, 1966-1980, One man shows, The Pantechnicon, San Francisco

1968, 1969 and 1972, Exhibitions: One man shows The Haggin Museum, Stockton. California 1972 & 1978

1970  Designer, Governor Reagan reelection campaign print materials

1971-1982 Illustrated biography appeared in Who’s Who in California, 1971-72, 1973, 1976, 1977, 1979-80, 1981-82

1971-1972. Four paintings on exhibit in the Governor’s office throughout Reagan’s two terms in office. His painting California Golden Hills was presented by Governor Reagan in 1971 to the Emperor and Empress of Japan during the Governor's trip to the Orient as a special emissary of President Nixon. Governor Reagan then presented Late Afternoon in the California Hills to President Luis Escheverrria during a private audience in the Presidential Palace in Mexico City in l972. A Grossman painting is in the Reagan private collection.

1974-2010 The John Grossman Collection of Antique Images now amassed to over 250,000 original ephemera items, some exceedingly rare.

1978-1984  Product designer using images from the Collection, produced by Mrs Grossman’s Paper Company. First use of Collection images for giftware products

1980-2016 Member, The Ephemera Society UK , 1980. Member, The Ephemera Society of America 1981. Ephemera Society of America board member 2007-2013.

1985-1998  Founded The Gifted Line in Sausalito, California, as President and Creative Director with Carolyn Grossman as Director of Operation.  All products and licensed products were based on Collection images. Domestic and international distribution. Articles on John Grossman, the company and the Collection appeared in numerous publications

1989-2012  Book author, co-author

1990  Recipient of the Maurice Rickards Distinguised Merit Award for outstanding
contributions to the world of ephemera.

1995-1999  Co-designer, USPS Christmas Stamps 1995, Love stamps 1999

1996  Elected to the American Antiquarian Society membership

1998  The Gifted Line acquired by Michel & Company

2008  The John Grossman Collection of Antique Images, renamed The John and Carolyn Grossman Collection

2008-2014 Collection loaned to Winterthur for subsequent Gift/Purchase in 2012. Winterthur Library Reading Room renamed the John and Carolyn Grossman Reading Room. The art and design reference library donated to Winterthur Library. Personal and professional archives and Gifted Line archives donated to Winterthur Library.

2010  Appeared on The History Channel program “The Real Story of Christmas”

2011-2016 Board member, National Valentine Collectors Association