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Trade Cards - Series to Collect

Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Co. (New York), c. 1870–1900. Chromolithographed trade card, (4 ¼ x 3 in).
CLICK ON ANY IMAGE TO ENLARGE [example of a verso]

In May of 1885, an article in the printing trade journal The Paper World announced that “the number of people who save handsome advertising cards when they chance to get them is larger now than ever and will increase with the growth of the population. No one is either so refined or so vulgar that he will not admire a pretty advertising card and save it. The ultimate destination of all cards is to swell some collection or to adorn some home, and they may be found in even the remotest parts of the land.”

In reality, trade cards were collected mostly by children and adolescent girls, who pasted them into albums and scrapbooks. Abrasions to the reverse of all the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company cards of children dressed in the costumes of different countries attest to this fact.

Manufacturers encouraged collecting by publishing sets and series. Like other trade cards, these were given out one by one by shopkeepers or included in packages as premiums. Advertisers counted on children wanting to obtain entire card sets and thus persuading their parents to buy the products in which the cards were included. The manufacturers of Jersey Coffee promised that no two cards of the same design from their series of 100 photolithographic views would be found in a case of their one pound bags.




TOP: Chinese Butcher & Grocery Shop, San Francisco. MIDDLE: San Francisco Views. BOTTOM:Steamboat Landing, New Orleans Levee, New Orleans. Dayton Spice Mills Co. (Dayton, OH), Jersey Coffee, c. 1870–1900. Photolithographic trade cards, (3 1/8 x 4 5/8 in).



Details of trade cards. Bugbee & Brownell (Providence, RI),
c. 1870–1890. Chromolithographed trade cards,
Printed by Providence Lith. Co. (5 3/8 x 3 7/8 in).

Sometimes companies would offer to give out, upon request, full card sets, such as the beautiful botanical prints distributed by spice importer and grinder Bugbee & Brownell of Providence, Rhode Island.



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