Winemakers are very creative people. Winemakers are artists. Long before graphic designers were chosen to create wine labels or marketing campaigns, a California winery marketed their brand of wine by mailing out calendars at Christmastime. 

The Wine History Project of San Luis Obispo County has four rare “Chromos” in their Collection. I will explain. These rare art pieces on exhibit in our Broad Street offices were created from artwork by E. Zampighi at the beginning of the twentieth century. They have been properly framed by a qualified conservator trained in conservation framing techniques. I will provide a diagram later of proper techniques to achieve good preservation of historic documents or artwork.

TIPO Calendars 

A chromolithograph process which utilizes vibrant colors was used to mount copies of original art of E. Zampighi on thick, paper fiberboard to create these calendar covers. An image of a TIPO bottle of chianti wine was “laid over” during the printing process done by the printing company. Additionally, advertising stating Italian Swiss Colony Producers of Choicest California Wines, Asti Colony TIPO was placed somewhere on the print.

The printing company who produced these calendar covers was Kaufmann & Strauss Company (1890-1930), located at 132 Fifth Avenue, New York who were printers of early paper and tin signs for businesses around the country.

Included here are the four historic calendar covers which are exhibited in the Wine History Project’s office.

people around a table drinking

Object ID:WHP-EPH180A

: Paper, fiberboard
Date: 1911

Size: 22 ½” x 16 ½”

Origin: United States

Title: “Grandpa’s Present”

This shows an Italian family celebrating and drinking wine. Grandpa is handing the youngest child a carving of a
small sheep.

woman and men drinking wine

Object ID WHP-EPH180D

Materials: Paper, fiberboard

Date: 1910

Size: 22 ½” x 16 ½”

Origin: United States

Title Rustic Courtship”

This scene is in an Italian kitchen of a woman and two men and a bottle of chianti.

group of people drinking wine

Object ID WHP-EPH180C

Materials: Paper, fiberboard

Date: 1910s

Size: 22 ½” x 16 ½”

Origin: United States

Title: Grateful Admirers”

This scene in a tavern is of men and women seated with bottles of Italian Swiss Colony wine.

family indoors talking

Object ID WHP-EPH180B

Materials: Paper, fiberboard

Date: 1910s

Size: 22 ½” x 16 ½”

Origin: United States

Title:   “A Happy Family”

The scene includes three generations of an Italian family sitting in a common room doing normal activities together.

Italian Swiss Colony Graphic

Advertisement Calendars

Many U.S. companies used calendars to advertise their commodities and themselves during the mid-1800s to the 1920s.  In fact, calendars were once maybe the most effective means of advertising. Remember, an advertisement in a newspaper or magazine likely was discarded right away. A calendar could conceivably hang in a business or home for an entire year.

In fact, if the calendar was attractive, or included the work of famous artists, it was much more likely to be displayed prominently on a wall for all to enjoy. Therefore design, color, and the quality of the art was important. If the inclusion of the product to be advertised was part of the art on the calendar, even better.

Some artists had a few paintings made into chromolithographs so people in society would at least be familiar with the painter. Once people in society were familiar with the artist, they were more likely to want to buy an original work of art from the artist.

Italian Swiss Colony

Italian Swiss Colony was an American wine company and brand based in Asti, Sonoma County, California and was at one time the leading wine producer in California. This agricultural colony, founded in 1881 by Andrea Sbarboro, was named for the city of Asti in Italy and focused on grapes originally. The corporation had originally been organized to allow the Italian (and in the beginning, Swiss) workers to eventually buy shares of ownership. By 1887 as grape prices plummeted the company constructed a winery and began wine production. The wine cistern which had a capacity of 500,000 U.S. gallons which Sbarboro had built became a tourist attraction

Prior to World War I, the Italian Swiss Colony’s officers which included Andrea Sbarboro (creator, owner) and Pietro Rossi (president and general manager), allocated funds for creating and sending calendars for the holidays using copies of E. Zampighi paintings of rural Italian scenes. This was an early method of advertising and marketing the products of the Italian Swiss Colony. Their banner wine was TIPO sold in imitation chianti fiaschi in both red and white varieties.

Originating in 1881 as cooperative grape vineyards, and evolving into a world-class winery, Italian Swiss Colony by 1910 was a well-rewarded operation for its shareholders. The winery had a capacity of 14,250,000 gallons. The organization continued to grow during the pre-Prohibition years. When the catastrophic Eighteenth Amendment was ratified, Sbarboro was the first among the California winemaking leaders to recognize the threat of prohibition. 

Eduardo Eugenio Zampighi (1859-1944)

Born in Modena, Italy and enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts at a very young age under Antonio Simonazzi, E. Zampighi painted Italian rural life. In 1880, he won the Poletti pension from the Academy of Fine Arts in Modena for Italian modern art, which entitled the winner to four years’ residence in Rome and Florence. During that time, he began to create a collection of genre scenes: paintings picturing daily life by ordinary people engaged in everyday activities, ordinary Italian people engaged in. The Baroque style was established and developed in Rome. The main purpose of this art form was to appeal to human emotions, through drama and exaggeration.

From those genre paintings, he received international commissions. How he received the monies from these commissions is unbeknownst to me. It is said that his technique included working as a photographer, taking photos in his studio of models dressed in peasant costumes. Then the photos were used as a reference for his oil paintings of bucolic Italian rural peasant life, lacking any social criticism. During the early twentieth century, he continued his successful and financially rewarding practice in Florence. Traveling tourists were particularly fond of Zampighi’s works and he utilized this “formula” for close to fifty years.

How Andrea Sbarboro or Pietro Rossi knew of E. Zampighi is unknown to me. Also unknown is if Zampighi traveled to the United States at any time in his life, either for meetings with the people of Italian Swiss Colony or engaging in any other business dealings for his artistic endeavors.

Instructions On Framing Art

New Printing Techniques Created American Marketing

Chromolithography was a technique that made color printing widely available. The initial chromolithographic technique involved the use of multiple lithographic stones, one for each color, and was still extremely expensive when done for the best quality results. Depending on the number of colors, a chromolithograph could take even very skilled workers months to produce. Cheaper images, like advertisements, relied heavily on an initial black print on which the colors were then overprinted.

Chromolithography is a chemical process. Limestone and zinc are two commonly used materials in the production of chromolithographs. After the image is drawn onto a surface, the image is gummed-up with a gum Arabic solution and weak nitric acid to desensitize the surface. The inked image is transferred under pressure onto a sheet of paper using a flat-bed press. In order that each color is placed in the right position, each stone or plate must be precisely registered or lined up on the paper using a system of register marks.

“Chromos” were costly to produce because of the necessary months of work and the thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment that had to be used. Although chromos could be mass-produced, it took about three months to draw colors onto the stones and another five months to print a thousand copies. Chromolithographs became so popular in American culture that the era has been labeled as “chromo civilization”. Over time, during the Victorian era, chromolithographs populated children’s and fine arts publications, as well as advertising art, trade cards, labels, and posters. They were used for popular prints, medical or scientific books, and advertisements. By the late 1930s, offset printing replaced chromolithography.

In general, chromolithographs have had poor preservation, and many have deteriorated because of the acidic frames surrounding them. Both European and American chromolithographs can still be found, though rare; they can range in cost from hundreds to thousands of dollars

The materials and methods that promote the long-term health of this artwork helps to control the environmental threats (humidity, temperature, light, dust) to the well-being of the artifact. The preservation framing methods, also referred to as conservation and archival methods, have been used by archivists and professional framers as the best way to protect and preserve these artifacts for future generations.

As promised earlier in the article, this is a diagram explaining how a qualified conservator would frame any art worthy of preservation.


The Wine History Project has a large collection of artifacts used during the 19th and 20th centuries in the vineyards and winemaking, along with a variety of ephemera and publications. If you wish to donate to our Collection, please contact Cynthia Lambert at