Friday, 2 October 2015

Trade Cards - part 1

Trade cards first became popular at the end of the 17th century in Paris, Lyon, and London. They functioned as advertising and also as maps, directing the public to merchant's stores, as no formal street address numbering system existed at the time.

One of the oldest trade cards, printed in Lyon and designed by Thomas Blanchet in 1674 for the firm of Anthony Warrior:




A trade card from around 1730-1742 for a furnishing store, from the V & A Museum collection in London:






An early 19th century English language trade card for John Farina, cologne manufacturer, showing Farina Huas, Cologne:





Victorian trade cards became an early form of collectible advertising, particularly in the United States. Popularised after the Civil war by businesses, they offer a colourful and diverse look at popular culture and society in the late 1800s.

The advent of lithography in the 1870s made it possible to mass-produce them in colour, leading to a golden age from 1876 to the early 1900s, when halftone printed newspaper and magazine advertisements became more economical.

Trade cards typically had a picture on one side and an advertisement on the other:


Colburn's Philadelphia Mustard (die-cut) front

Colburn's Philadelphia Mustard (die-cut) back

There were custom cards printed for specific products, and generic stock cards that could be used for any product:


Charles A. Adams, Winchendon, MA

Jones and Davis, Central Falls, RI

Trade cards were popular for medicines (including a number of quack remedies), sewing products, farming equipment and a range of other products. Some rare Victorian trade cards are now worth thousands of dollars, for example cards advertising Clipper Ships travelling from the East Coast to California in the 1860s. Many can be picked up for a few dollars on online auction sites.

This is part 1 of a 6-part series on Trade Cards:


A Merry Christmas (die-cut)

A Stowell & Co., Boston, MA (die-cut) front

A Stowell & Co., Boston, MA (die-cut) back

A. C. Garland's Music Store, New Brunswick, NJ

A. C. Yates & Co., Philadelphia, PA (Clothing) (die-cut) front

A. C. Yates & Co., Philadelphia, PA (die-cut) back

A. R. Glidden, St. Lawrence (Druggist)

A. Raymond & Co. (Clothiers)

A.H. Shapley, Greene, NY (Jeweller & Optician)

Acme Soap

Acorn Stoves and Ranges. Rathbone Sard & Co.

Acorn Stoves and Ranges. Rathbone Sard & Co.

Adolph Kahn & Co., Indianapolis, Indiana (Clothing)

Altien's Novelties

American Puzzle Card (Mr. Bluebeard) 1880 (see below)

American Puzzle Card (Mr. Bluebeard) 1880

American Puzzle Card (The Doctor and his Patients) 1880


American Puzzle Card (Where is the Herdsman?) 1880 (see below)

American Puzzle Card (Where is the Herdsman?) 1880

American Puzzle Card (A Basket of Fruit and a Portrait) 1880 (see below)


American Puzzle Card (A Basket of Fruit and a Portrait) 1880

Arlatte & Cie, Cambrai, France

Arlatte & Cie, Cambrai, France

Arlatte & Cie, Cambrai, France

Arlatte & Cie, Cambrai, France

Arm & Hammer. Cowbird

Arm & Hammer. Dickcissel 1922

Arm & Hammer. Orchard Oriole

Arm & Hammer. Western Tanager 1922

Arnaud, New York

Arnaud, New York

Atmore's Mince Meat and Genuine English Plum Pudding

Atmore's Mince Meat and Genuine English Plum Pudding

Atmore's Mince Meat and Genuine English Plum Pudding

Au Bon Marché, France

Austin Baldwin & Co., Chicago, IL

Ayer's Cathartic Pills

Ayer's Cherry Pectoral

Ayer's Pills

B. D. Dull, Mechanicsburg, PA

B.T. Babbit's Best Soap

Becalmed (generic card)

Bleu Argent Arlatte and Cie., Cambrai, France (die-cut)

Bleu Argent Arlatte and Cie., Cambrai, France (die-cut)

Boston & Middleboro Clothing Co., Middleboro, MA

Bradley Fertilizer Co., Boston, MA

Buchan's Carbolic Soap

Buck's Brilliant Stoves

Bugbee & Brownell, Providence, RI

Burdock Blood Bitters

Burdock Blood Bitters

Burdock Blood Bitters

Burdock Blood Bitters

Butterfield's Shoe Store, Springfield, MA

C. Gilbert's Linen Starch

C. L. Jones & Co., Boston & New York

C. R. Bumpus, Lewiston, Maine

Chas. A. Monell (die-cut)

Chas. A. Monell (die-cut)



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