Victorian trade cards are an early form of collectible advertising. Popularized after the Civil War by businesses, they offer a colorful and diverse look at popular culture and society in the late 1800s.

Trade cards originated in England in the 1700s with tradesmen advertising their wares. But the advent of lithography in the 1870s made it possible to mass-produce them in color, leading to a golden age from 1876 to the early 1900s when halftone printed newspaper and magazine ads became more economical.

Trade cards typically had a picture on one side and an ad on the other. There were custom cards printed for specific products, and stock cards which could be used for any product. Trade cards were popular for medicines, sewing, and farm equipment, and a range of other products. Some rare Victorian trade cards are now worth thousands of dollars, for example cards advertising Clipper Ships traveling from the East Coast to California in the 1860s.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Trade Card Place

Trade Card Place

Ben Crane's excellent reference site on Victorian trade cards. Includes a scrapbook containing hundreds of beautifu… [read review or visit site]

Non Sports Cards: Tobacco, Gum and Candy

Non Sports Cards: Tobacco, Gum and Candy

Tom Boblitt moderates this extremely deep, collaborative site dedicated to non-sports cards (tobacco, gum and candy… [read review or visit site]

The Scrap Album

The Scrap Album

Malcolm Warrington’s The Scrap Album is a handsomely organized site, as you’d expect from an articulate champio… [read review or visit site]

Advertising Antiques

Advertising Antiques

This classy looking British site features hundreds of high resolution photos of antique porcelain pre-war (enamel) … [read review or visit site]

Ephemera Blog

Ephemera Blog

Marty Weil's wide-ranging, in-depth blog on ephemera, including lots of great interviews with ephemera collectors. … [read review or visit site]

Stevengraphs Bookmarks and Postcards

Stevengraphs Bookmarks and Postcards

Malcolm Roebuck's tribute to the ornate silk picture bookmarks and postcards ('Stevengraphs') produced by Thomas St… [read review or visit site]

Ad Access

Ad Access

Duke University's library has pulled together an impressive collection of over 7,000 ads printed in U.S. and Canadi… [read review or visit site]

Ephemera Society of America

Ephemera Society of America

Great reference on ephemera... includes examples and descriptions of various ephemera categories, selected special … [read review or visit site]

American Package Museum

American Package Museum

Ian House's gallery of early 20th Century American package designs. Browse the exhibits in slide show mode or view … [read review or visit site]

Found in Moms Basement

Found in Moms Basement

Paula Zargaj-Reynolds’ blog, an extensive collection of 20th century vintage advertising, is a visual feast. Scro… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

1885 Budweiser Lager Beer Anheuser Busch Trade Card Wagner Die Walkure ValkyrieHuge Lot Victorian True Vintage Die Cuts Scrapbook Scraps Trade Cards Ephemera1897 Hires Root Beer Die Cut Countertop Easel Back Advertising Sign / DisplayJackson Brewing New Orleans La. Rare Mechanical Victorian Trade Card #5Sparky Poker Cards Trade Stimulator Coin-op 5c~~star Amusement Co~1952~table Top1882 F.a.o. Schwarz Santa Claus / Christmas Toys Chromolithograph Trade CardTrade Card Fire Dept.silsby Steam Fire Engines/pumpsBooth's Eastern Oysters At Delmonico Restaurant - Trade CardJohnson Optical Co - Eye Glasses & Spectacles - Detroit - Trade CardFold Out Trade Card For Triangle Brand Baltimore Oysters, Joe Freedman CollectioNear Complete A & Bc Trade Cards Battle Brown Back Dated 1966 - V06 D07Victorian Trade Card Advertising Lansings Railway System In New York CityVictorian Trade Card Lansings Railway System In New York City 397 BroadwayTrade Cards. Village Miad. 100/100 Australian Birds. Set.Victorian Trade Card Lansings Railway System New York City Saving FaresMcilhenny's Tabasco Sauce - Trade Card1890 Trade Card Nigger Head Old Gold Bull's Eye Cigarettes Smoking TobaccoEarly Advertising Thermometer Harris Vanilla Binghamton Ny W Litho Trade Card1900’s - 63 Baking Powder Cards - Extinct & Exotic Animals - Excellent, No GlueWithington & Cooley - Garden Rake - Trade CardHuge Lot Victorian Trade Cards Mostly Damaged 250+ Antique Scrapbook AdvertisingOur Little Beauties--sexy Ladies--2 Victorian Cigarette Trade Cards1800's Pabst Malt Extract Best Brewery Milwaukee Wi Advertising Trade Card Cv853Haddock's Cards Late 1800's Metamorphic Trade Card - Sleeping Car SceneryMcdermott Artificial Limbs For Soldiers - New Orleans - Trade CardJohn Deere - Tri-fold Trade Card -self Dump Sulkey Rake- Late 1800's - RareOld Trade Card, Rainier Beer, Electric Wagon, Balich Distr. Santa Cruz, CaKiller Garland Stove Card - Michigan - Trade CardVictorian 19th Century Trade Card Ex. Scarce Brown's Iron Bitters Comical JokerEnterprise Meat & Food Chopper Victorian Trade Card #7Kratz Traction Engines & Saw Mills - Indiana - Trade Card FolderChicago Rock Island And Pacific Railroad - Trade Card Tickle The Earth With A Hoe, Made By Withington & Cooley M'f'g Co. Jackson, Mich1880 Era Baseball Related Trade Card / Early Baseball Card Palmer Cox BrownieRare! Three (3) Professor Bristol’s Educated Horses Circus Cards, Ca. 1898. 1902 Calendar Double Fold Advertising Trade Card Wilbur Chocolate & Cocoa Cv785Josephine Baker 12 Vintage Original Trade Cards Black Americana 1920s1890 Trade Card Lottier's Paper Tag Tobacco Chew Richmond VaVictorian Real Photo Of Pres Grover Cleveland, Heisel's Nominee Chewing GumVictorian Trade Card Burlington Vermont Baseball Theme Hitting Running Base FlagTom Keene Cigar Late 1800's Metamorphic Trade Card (fair Condition)Trade Cards. Tuckfields. 28/32 Popular Dogs. Part Set.1893 Columbian Exposition Souvenir J. Ottmann Litho Co Trade Card Four Black Americana Victorian Trade Cards Free Shipping3 Vtg C1888 Church & Dwight Arm & Hammer 1st Series J1 Beautiful Birds Card Lot2015/16 Absolute Kristaps Porzingis Tools Of The Trade 4 Relic Card #74/75Woodbury's Toilet Preparations Late 1800's Mechanical Metamorphic Trade Booklet1985/86 Australian Cricket Trade Cards X 9 - Double Trouble Collect-a-setSergio Aguero - Man City - Signed 15/16 Match Attax Champions League Trade CardRussell & Co. Builders Engines Massillon Oh Trade Card Farm Machinery Vg9033Polar Bear Gold Coin Stoves Adv Trade Card C1880s Troy NyMt Washington Glass Works - 1876 Centennial Trade Card - Cut Glass Lamps Etc.Metamorphic, Atkins "segment Ground" Crosscut Saws, E.c. Atkins & Co. Incpd1873 Myers Bros. Love Tobacco Trade Card - Civil War - Only A Few Known To ExistLouisiana State Lottery - 1880 - Trade CardTake A Chew - Jackson Buzz Saw Tobacco - Trade CardRare Early Mustard Label - Boston - Red, Gold & Blue Rare Trade Card For Cornell Iron Work For Buildings - Mfgr.Vintage 1961 "giant Funny Valentines" Trade Cards 19 Pc Lot-topps Chewing Gum ExFold Out Duke Tobacco Trade Card From The Joe Freedman Collection