Victorian Trade Cards

Victorian trade cards were the first form of mass produced color advertising. They were most popular during the Victorian era of the late 1800’s and were used to promote one’s business or trade. Most often the artwork on the card had no relation to the service or business it was promoting. They were often collected and put in scrapbooks. As a result, many thousands survived and are available at reasonable prices.
Many dentists gave out trade cards, often with their fees printed on the back. Patent medicines were very popular at the time and were promoted as well. Dr. Thomas’ eclectic oil, which cured everything from toothache to lameness, was one of the most popular. Also popular were gargling ointments and teething cures such as Winslow’s Soothing Syrup (which contained cocaine and harmed many infants).