Friends, do have dyspepsia?
Pictured here are Victorian-era trade cards for a line of Slaven's patent medicines and beauty products that were sold in northern California. Elsewhere on the site is a bio of the man behind the products, Henry B. Slaven.
Trade cards were a popular form of advertising in the late 19th century, roughly the 1880 to 1900 time period. Trade cards were usually about the size and weight of a 3x5 index card, and were given out by local merchants and others to advertise their products and services. Many cards had colorful artwork on the front and advertising text or testimonials on the back.
Trade cards are classified into two types. Stock cards had artwork on the front unrelated to a specific product and blank back, so a local merchant could have it printed to advertise any kind of a product or service. Custom cards were designed and printed for a specific manufacturer or product, and the merchant might stamp their name on the front or back. Products most often advertised by trade cards were medicines, food, tobacco, clothing, household goods, stoves, and farm merchandise.
These give-away cards were popular collectables in their day; many children and ladies proudly mounted their collection in albums. The backs of cards on the market today often have glue and paper residue from an earlier life in someone's scrapbook.
The peak of popularity for trade cards was around 1890. They faded quickly by the early 1900s when other color advertising, such as magazines, became more cost effective.
Thanks to Dirt Road Antiques and to Ben Johnson Jr. for several scans on these pages!
More Slaven trade cards...
Back of one of the Slaven tradecards.
Slaven's California Fruit Salt- it's good for what ails you.
Copyright © 2007 Larry Slavens. All rights reserved.