Victorian trade cards are an early form of collectible advertising. Popularized after the Civil War by businesses, they offer a colorful and diverse look at popular culture and society in the late 1800s. Trade cards originated in England in the 1700s with tradesmen advertising their wares. source
Trade cards originated in England in the 1700s with tradesmen advertising their wares. But the advent of lithography in the 1870s
made it possible to mass-produce them in color, leading to a golden age from 1876 to the early 1900s
when halftone printed newspaper and magazine ads became more economical.
Trade cards typically had a picture on one side and an ad on the other. There were custom cards printed for specific products, and stock cards which could be used for any product. Trade cards were popular for medicines, sewing, and farm equipment, and a range of other products. Some rare Victorian trade cards are now worth thousands of dollars, for example cards advertising Clipper Ships traveling from the East Coast to California in the 1860s. source.
Let’s take a look at some of the best I’ve come across!