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]

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]

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 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]

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]

Plan 59

Plan 59

From the Nostlagia Factory in Virginia comes this celebration of 'mid-century automotive advertising illustrations'… [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    

Coca Cola Inventor John Stith Pemberton - Important 1879 Medical Trade Card Rare! Professor Bristol’s Trained Horses, Counting Mule Circus Cards, Ca. 1898.Nfl American Football Over 200 Trade Cards Incl 61 Handsigned By The Players Baseball: 1800s Victorian Trade Card; Geiser Man'f'g Co., Waynesboro, PaVictorian Trade Card - Unusual Shape 4 Card Collection - Moerlein's Beer1800's Fold-out Advertising Trade Card Ji Case Threshing Machine Co Wi Vg39582012 Leaf Pop Century Carmen Electra Auto Trade Summit On Card Auto Promo !Mass Collection Cigarette Trade Tea Cards Cricket Boxing Animals Motor Cars EtcNfl American Football Over 200 Trade Cards Incl 62 Handsigned By The Players Hall's Patent Tree Lifter - Unusual Subject - Trade CardVictorian Early Embossed Trade Card - President Lincoln And SonCook & Co, Distillers - Whiskey, Rum & Gin Buffalo Ny - Trade CardAlbum Of 82 Victorian Cards, 25 Trade CardsVictorian Trade Card - Gerhard Lang Bottling Works, Buffalo, N. Y. - Beer, SodaWithington & Cooley - Hay & Manure Forks - 1884 - Trade CardPasteurine Antiseptic Gum-black Americana Theme-st Louis-trade Card1890 Folding Calendar - Liebig Co.'s Extract Of Beef, In English25 Antique Vintage Victorian Period Trade Cards Vtc Advertising Ephemera Lot1890 Victorian Calendar / Trade Cards White & Allen, Set Of 12Victorian Liebigbilder Collectible Advertising Cards, German, Album 384 CardsSuper Trade Card Springfield, Ohio Iron Wind Machine Co Great Color & GraphicsLot: 16 1920s Colonial Silhouette Card Game Cards~conversation Cards?~2925Fine Trade Card, Bottle Of Tivoli Export Beer, Poth Brewing, Philadelphia, C1890W.j. Richards Whips - Westfield Ma - Trade Card14 Arm & Hammer Cards - Fish Series 1900Baum's Catorine For Frank Baum's Family Firm3 1890s Mclaughlin's 5x7 Trade Card Lillian Russell Theater +Victorian Trade Card Baseball Besse Mills Westfield Mass Gimme A Dew Drop Victorian Trade Card Baseball Base Hit Short Stop Grant Besse Westfield Mass 92014 Teddy Bridgewater Cracked Ice Tools Of The Trade Sweet Card Non Auto 1 Fire Alarm CardKitty Cat Music Trio-1880s Victorian Trade Card-threadSet Of 7 Jackson's Best Chewing Tobacco - Story Of Black Boy Stealing Jackson'sThe Greek American Sponge Co. Business Trade Card Old Advertising Booklet Park Hotel Vitznau SwitzerlandRare ? Trade Card: Magnet Hair Pins, Pat March 21 1882 - New York4 Old Trade Cards With Cats, Balcom Pianos & Organs, Storm Lake, IowaVictorian Trade Card Paper Doll Adams Pepsin Tutti Frutti Gum Toy AdvertisingTrade Card Set, Geoffrey Michael, Modern Booklets Modern Motor Cars, 1949Cristiano Ronaldo - Portugal - Signed 2014 Match Attax World Cup Trade CardSt. Nicholas Magazine Puzzle Trade CardVictorian Trade Card,"keystone C.s. Durfee Jeweler", Davenport Iowa, Silver WareAntique Victorian Trade Card Girl Driving Ice Truck Harper Ice Co. Harper KansasGroup Of 8 - Magnolia Ham Trade Cards: Uncle Sam, Gen. Grant, Black CaricaturesThree (3) - Tom Thumb's Museum Trade Cards, OdditiesGoodwillie, Wyman - Printers & Bookbinders, Supplies - Trade CardLot Of 144 Victorian Late 1800's Trade Cards & Paper Advertising EmphemeraLamolle House San Jose, California Trade Card Ca.1910Halstead Mt. Vernon Hams, Beef & Pork Packers - Trade CardIndian Root & Squaw Root Remedies €(2) 1880's Troy Ny Trade Card Set Of Santa Claus Trade Cards Frears Cash BazaarVictorian 1898 Trade Card Die Cut Album Advertising Scrapbook 25 Filled Pages Folding Card - The Monroe Range, The Co-operative Foundry Co., Rochester, NyWorcester, Ma Late 1800's Scott's Carbolated Salve Medicine Trade Card Large Vintage Sachs Prudens' Famous Ginger Ale Victorian Advertising CardVictorian Trade CardThe Fox & The Stork (aesop's Fable)-colorful Victorian Trade Card-threadCa. 1890s Kerr's Spool Cotton - Hold-to-heat - Fortune Teller And Pretty Girl- Antique Advertising Cole's Veterinary Carbolisalve Trade Card For Poultry, Etc.Antique Victorian Trade Card Collage Scrapbook Pages