Trade Cards Catch the Eye
9 artifacts in this set
Arbuckle Bros. Coffee Company, founded in 1865 by John and Charles Arbuckle, was the first company to sell pre-roasted coffee beans in individual packages. The product was practical and convenient for chuck wagons, becoming an instant favorite among cowboys--it became known as "The Coffee That Won the West." Arbuckles' trade cards, like this one, informed consumers about the coffee and educated them about the United States and its territories.
Dexter Mason Ferry worked in the seed industry for years before founding D.M. Ferry & Co. in Detroit, Michigan, in 1879. The company gained a reputation for its high-quality vegetable and flower seeds. The company's colorful trade cards impressed customers with beautiful illustrations and educated them about the flower they could grow from small quantities of seed, pre-packaged in "seed papers." Loyal customers could earn bonus illustrations.
The St. Louis Stamping Company was incorporated in 1866 by Frederick and William Niedringhaus in St. Louis, Missouri. The brothers' success came when they began making Granite Iron Ware--metal products coated with an enamel that resembled granite. The company's trade cards informed customers of the light, durable, and attractive qualities of "granite" iron ware while featuring an eye-catching--and sometimes comical--image, like this one.
In 1875, Charles Ira Hood opened his drug store in Lowell, Massachusetts, called C.I. Hood & Co., and within a few years was one of the largest patent medicine producers in the United States. Medicine and apothecary businesses were selling near identical products--but Hood's factory had its own advertising department, creating eye-catching calendars, cookbooks, and trade cards, which set Hood's products apart from competitors.
In the late 19th century, stove manufacturing became Detroit's leading industry. One of the most successful stove companies was the Michigan Stove Company, founded by Jeremiah Dwyer in 1871. Under the "Garland" label, Dwyer expanded the variety of stoves to include heating and cook stoves. The company's trade cards often featured children, animals, and images of its stoves with the Garland logo prominently displayed.
From exclusively selling horseradish in 1869 to offering more than 60 products by 1900, H.J. Heinz used his flair for advertising to reach consumers in stores, at home, and everywhere in between. Before the Heinz name had become synonymous with ketchup, Heinz was celebrated for its many varieties of pickles. The pickle became a recognized logo for Heinz, showing up on product packaging and trade cards, like this one.
Before the invention of pasteurized milk, fresh milk was often unsafe to drink, as it soured quickly. After experimenting with ways to preserve milk, Gail Borden introduced Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk in 1856. Milk was important in the nourishment of young children--the product's primary consumers--so trade cards often featured smiling children and infants.
Isaac Singer introduced the first practical sewing machine for home use in 1851. Yet, the Singer Manufacturing Company's greatest innovations lay in its marketing strategies. Foreign sales--with overseas manufacturing facilities and a strong sales network--were a huge factor in the company's success. A series of trade cards, like this one, offered images of Singer machine users from the around the world, featured in their national dress.
In 1885, the Larkin Company introduced the "Larkin Idea"--selling goods directly from the factory to the consumer, cutting out all middlemen. The company encouraged sales by offering premium giveaways ranging from children's toys to clothing to furniture, which could be obtained with the purchase of Larkin products. Early on, company trade cards marketed this idea, advertising Larkin soap products and promoting a giveaway on the back.