The MORGAN LITHOGRAPH COMPANY was established by William J. Morgan (1838-1904) and his younger brother, George W. (1843-1905) in 1864. The Morgan brothers' parents emigrated from Wales in 1842, first settling in Pittsburgh before arriving in Cleveland in 1854. Both brothers were veterans of the Civil War, during which William served as a captain in the CLEVELAND GRAYS. Both are buried in LAKE VIEW CEMETERY.
Located originally on Superior Street, the W. J. Morgan & Company produced broadsheets, trade cards, pamphlets, blotters, postcards, and posters to advertise local businesses. Increasing orders from surrounding states soon allowed the company to move to larger headquarters.
Morgan used the stone lithographic process to create its advertising materials. They hired a number of artists to design quality images to entice businesses to pay Morgan to promote their products. Many of the artists were also traveling salesmen who sketched their clients' offices, buildings, and facilities¿renderings which often appeared on the advertising materials.
By 1887, the company was renamed Morgan Lithographic Company and focused almost entirely on the entertainment business, designing broadsheets, posters and other items for circuses, theaters and traveling companies. Ringling Brothers Circus was one of its premier clients. From its work with Ringling, Morgan claimed it was the first to create billboard-size (or 24-sheet) posters.
In the 1890s, Morgan Lithograph Company won gold medals for its large-scale posters at both the Paris World¿s Fair and the Chicago Exposition. Morgan also produced political posters for William McKinley's presidential campaign in 1896.
In the early 1900s. Morgan Lithograph Company quickly became one of the leading practitioners of poster production, to advertise films. Its financial success allowed it to buy up smaller competitors, thereby gaining increased market share and expanded production facilities. In 1913, Morgan produced oversized three- and six-sheet posters as well as standard one-sheet posters measuring 27 inches wide by 41 inches high. Motion picture companies across the country touted the quality of Morgan Lithograph's work.
Morgan Lithograph Company continues to produce graphic materials as of 2014, albeit with a variety of new technologies. Currently named Morgan Litho and located at 4101 Commerce Avenue, it uses letterpress, screen, and digital printing and serves a wide variety of clients.