The Advertising Boom. Tin, cardboard and tile posters. 1890-1950


The exhibition is a tour, from the end of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th, through graphic commercial advertising dedicated especially to the promotion of everyday products: food, wines and cavas, pharmaceuticals, care products, tobacco, machines etc.

Besides popular paper posters, the exhibition highlights how advertising adopted other media such as tin, cardboard and ceramic-tile posters. This led to a much broader distribution of the products advertised, particularly in shops, over counters, in shop windows and on façades.

Two-dimensional tin and cardboard posters and even large-format three-dimensional pieces in the case of cardboard, served as powerful advertisements at shop entrances, often with life-size figures that became popular icons of their day. The purpose was to promote the products’ qualities and advantages, by highlighting in particular the name of the manufacturer, which, in an effort to position itself in the market, began to use design to create an attractive brand image.

Chromolithographic printing (lithographs in colour), an innovative copying process at the time which helped to spread paper advertising posters, was also applied to tin and cardboard, filling the world of advertising with colour as it had already done with the world of publishing.

On the other hand, when it came to ceramic tiles, the most refined were produced from the ancient technique of tube-lining (using a separating clay cord of painted varnishes for differentiating decorative lines), recovered at the end of the 19th century and applied in particular to advertising panels, used on white boards achieving a high-quality relief. They were mainly made in Valencia.

A large part of the advertisements displayed were produced in Catalonia, apart from ceramic posters, most of which came from Valencia.

The exhibition presents over 250 items, created by artists and professional illustrators alike, often anonymous, and on loan from the Mateu Llinàs i Audet Collection from Barcelona and the Museu de Ceràmica de Manises (Valencia).

Its aim is to give everyone access to these advertisements, which were so popular in their day and now belong to the world of collecting and museums, having become considered as cultural heritage for their communicational, artistic and social aspects.

This is heritage that will evoke a distant past in the oldest and the not so old, and which will awaken the interest and admiration among the very young as they discover the strength of icons that have survived for around a century, by adapting to the times. Originally conceived as an ephemeral product, this heritage will undoubtedly provide plenty of inspiration for the next generations of professionals in the field.

Organised by: Museu del Disseny de Barcelona
Works from: Mateu Llinàs i Audet Collection, Museu de Ceràmica de Manises, Museu del Disseny de Barcelona
In collaboration with: Museu de Ceràmica de Manises and Museu de Badalona


Pilar Vélez




B floor


General admission: €3
Reduced admission: €2

Exhibition fields

  • The triumph of image in colors

    The industrial revolution, advertising and chromolithography are inseparable. The attraction of commercial advertising became a reality thanks to adverts full

  • Food

    The proliferation of products from new industries made it possible to standardise manufacturing, conservation and distribution systems. This reduced costs and

  • Drinks

    Advertising and alcoholic drinks have always been inseparable. Wines, champagnes, beers, vermouths and spirits of all kinds employed the best artists to create

  • Cigarette papers

    The ritual of rolling a cigarette with paper goes back centuries. Towards the end of the 19th century there were many factories in Catalonia and Valencia, while

  • Perfumes and cosmetics

    Industrialisation also influenced the perfume and cosmetics sector. After the First World War, advances in the chemical sector and modern life’s new customs led

  • Health

    The generalisation of personal hygiene and the pharmaceutical industry’s progress favoured the production and consumption of a series of products designed to

  • Household and cleaning

    There were many household and cleaning products aimed at the woman of the house, who controlled the purse strings and made the home comfortable. For cleaning,

  • Industry

    This heterogeneous sample of products, grouped under the heading of “industry”, show us some used in everyday life, such as lighting, in the form of light bulbs

  • Insurance

    Tin plates were used in advertising for insurance companies in the early 20th century: maritime, fire or life policies, which usually show their capital in

  • Textiles and fashion

    Barcelona was a major centre for the textile industry for a long time and had a large number of factories. In addition to textiles and spinning, some

  • Ceramic tiles in relief

    Ceramic panels or posters were another very popular means of advertising. Valencia was a major centre of production, especially between 1910 and 1940.

  • Show cards

    “Show cards are a powerful addition to shop windows. They consist of posters printed onto cardboard and then cut out. They can be placed on  top of one another,

Related activities

Ajuntament de Barcelona