Brown & Bigelow was founded in 1896 by Herbert Bigelow and Hirm Brown. Throughout its history, Brown & Bigelow has been a St. Paul resident. In its first 11 years, the firm outgrew three locations and then settled on a 17-acre site that was once the Lexington horse race track in the Hamline-Midway area of St. Paul in 1906. Herbert Bigelow went to prison for tax evasion in the early 1920′s. He met and recruited future company president, Charlie Ward while serving out his term. In 1925, Brown & Bigelow began a tradition by publishing calendars for the Boy Scouts of America, many of which were illustrated by Norman Rockwell.
In 1936, Brown & Bigelow paid $10,000 to Maxfield Parrish for the rights to his work “Peaceful Valley.” The company also had a reputation for publishing and employing artists including works by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge, Joyce Ballantyne, Rolf Armstrong, Gil Elvgren, Earl Moran, Vaughn Alden Bass, Mabel Rollins Harris, and Norman Rockwell. Perhaps the most famous work commissioned by the firm was Cassius Marcellus Coolidge’s 1903 series of paintings featuring dogs playing poker. Herbert Bigelow drowned on a canoe trip near Ely in 1933. In the late 1940s, Brown & Bigelow of the biggest calendar printers in the world. Still based in Saint Paul, the company produces advertising specialties, calendars and promotional products.