The Winterthur Library
The Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera
Henry Francis du Pont
5105 Kennett Pike, Winterthur, Delaware 19735
Telephone: 302-888-4600 or 800-448-3883
OVERVIEW OF THE COLLECTION
Title: Trade Cards and Labels Collection
Dates: ca. 1734-ca. 1932.
Call No.: Col. 9
Acc. No.: [various see Access database]
Quantity: 17 boxes
Location: 18 A 3-6
Trade cards were used to advertise a business or a product. They evolved from cards of the late 1700s used by tradesmen to advertise their services, and although examples from the early 1800s exist, it was not until the spread of color lithography in the 1870s that trade cards became plentiful. By the 1880s, trade cards had become a major way of advertising Americas goods and services. In addition to producing depictions for specific kinds of goods, at the end of the 19th century, printers issued a wide variety of stock images which could be imprinted with the name of the business or product. These stock images did not necessarily have anything to do with the product being sold. Besides being an advertising vehicle, trade cards were collected. When people went to their favorite stores, they frequently brought back attractive, brightly colored trade cards, available for the asking and usually displayed on store counters, and pasted them into their scrapbooks. The popularity of trade cards peaked around 1890, and then almost completely faded by the early 1900s when other forms of marketing, including magazine advertisements, became more cost effective.
Craftspeople, especially furniture makers, pasted their trade labels directly onto their products. They were mostly made of paper and contained the name and address of the craftsperson and often depictions of what they made. By recording his name on a product, the craftsperson enhanced his reputation, indicated to retailers what he could supply, and at least implied to buyers that he would stand behind his work. Trade labels frequently replicated newspaper and city directory advertisements.
SCOPE AND CONTENT
This artificial and still open collection contains thousands of trade cards and labels that advertise a variety of products, including house furnishings, toys and games, jewelry, horse equipage, gas appliances, foodstuffs, hardware, sewing products, paints, medicines, personal goods, etc. Service oriented businesses, such as commission merchants and insurance companies, also advertised through the collection's cards and labels. There are also stock cards that were used by advertisers of different products. Many of the cards are in color and feature ornate designs. Most of the cards and labels are from the eastern United States and some originated in Europe.
The chief access to this collection is through an Access database, available at this repository. Through that, one can search for the name of a particular business, a product, a service, location of business, or name of printer. This finding aid is intended solely to get the user from the Access entry to the correct box in which to find the desired cards.
A listing of firms, addresses, products advertised, dates, printers, subject headings and descriptions is available on Access software at this repository. Trade cards are filed by subject.
Many of the cards are loose, while others are mounted in volumes. The loose cards are arranged by size (smaller ones in Boxes 1-6; larger ones in Boxes 7-9) and then are divided by type of business. Box 10 contains cards that have pictures but no advertisements printed on them. Boxes 11-17 contain albums of trade cards and some very large cards which did not fit into Boxes 7-9.
An index to volume 15 and to accession number 80x122 are available at this repository. However, these have also been put into the Access database and are more easily found from searching that.
LANGUAGE OF MATERIALS
The materials are primarily in English.
RESTRICTIONS ON ACCESS
Collection is open to the public. Copyright restrictions may apply.
Gifts and purchases from various sources.
[access points are the subject headings used in the on-line catalog; see list headed Subject headings for headings used to arrange the cards in the collection]
Advertising cards - United States.
Advertising cards - Europe.
Booksellers and bookselling.
Clocks and watches
Clothing and dress.
Dyes and dyeing.
Picture frames and framing.
Publishers and publishing.
Recreation - Equipment and supplies.
Scientific apparatus and instruments.
Stone industry and trade.
Stove industry and trade.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE COLLECTION
Location: 18 A 3-6
Note: The list of subject headings used to divide the cards into categories is found at the end of this finding aid.
Boxes 1-6: Small trade cards [see note above]
Boxes 7-9: Large trade cards [see note above]
Blank cards (pictures, but no advertisements)
Vol. 1 (69x24)
Vol. 2 (81x275)
Vol. 3 (83x35)
Vol. 4 (83x37)
Vol. 5 (68x176)
Vol. 6 (83x36)
Vol. 7 (83x38)
Vol. 8 (84x144.1)
Vol. 9 (84x144.2)
Vol. 10 (84x144.3)
Vol. 13 (77x543)
Vol. 11 (68x87)
Vol. 12 (87x184)
Vol. 15 (65x572)
SUBJECT HEADINGS USED FOR TRADE CARDS COLLECTION:
Adhesives [ includes glue, cement, mucilage]
Automobile industry and trade
Book industries and trade
Building materials [ includes lumber, cement, piping]
Cleaning [ includes carpet sweepers and cleaners]
Clocks and watches [ see also Jewelry and Silver]
Clothing and dress [ see also Department stores/dry-goods and Textile fabrics]
Containers [ includes baskets, boxes, bags]
Decoration and ornament
Department stores; Dry-goods
Drugstores [ see also Medicine]
Dyes and dyeing
Farm equipment [ incudes plows, large mowers, haying equipment, feed]
Groceries [ these just list groceries for sale, no specific items; see also Food]
Hair [ incudes shampoo, hair tonic and oil, hairdressers, hair for sale]
Hardware [- incudes nails, bits, locks and keys, files, tools, bolts, nuts]
Hides and skins [ incudes tanners, curriers, leather goods]
Horses equipment and supplies [ incudes saddle, harness, bridles, horse liniment]
House furnishings [ incudes blinds and window shades]
Jewelry [ see also Silver and Clocks and watches]
Medicine [ see also Drugstores]
Metal-work [ incudes bar iron, fencing, kettles and other metalware, tinware, kitchen utensils]
Mines and mineral resources
Music [ incudes pianos, organs, sheet music, music and singing lessons]
Office equipment and supplies [ incudes typewriters]
Paint [ i.e. house paint; see Artists materials for art paint]
Painters [ house, sign, coach, decorative, and architectural painters]
Picture frames and framing
Printing [ incudes engravers, job printers]
Professions [ i.e. non-tradesmen: attorneys, sheriffs, etc.]
Recreation [ incudes fishing tackle, guns, bicycles]
Scientific apparatus and instruments [ incudes spectacles, scales and weights, thermometers]
Sewing [ incudes sewing machines, thread, yarn]
Silver [ see also Jewelry and Clocks and watches]
Stationery [ incudes cards of all sorts, pens, pencils, writing paper]
Stone industry and trade
Stoves; Heating [ incudes stoves, ranges, stove polish]
Textile fabrics [ see also Clothing and dress, and Department stores/dry goods]
Travel [ incudes steamships, coaches for hire]
Undertakers and undertaking
Wall hangings [ includes wallpaper]
Wood [ also wooden products]