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]

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    

Antique Complete Set N.k. Fairbank Co. Black Americana Victorian Trade Cards NrRare Antique 1919 Fold Out Pop-up Die-cut Fisk Tires Automobile Post Card, Nr1880s Antique Lot Of 4 Victorian Tobacco Trade Cards Pollywogs Old Dog Tray RareHuge Assorted Lot Of 375 Advertising Victorian Trade Cards - Many Good Ones!1880's I.w. Harper - Whiskey - Uncle Sam - Trade Card - Wm Noaker Carlisle Pa. Antique 1890s Victorian Mixed Lot Of 7 Color Litho Quack Medicine Trade Cards NrLot(7) 1880s Misc Baseball Themed Trade Cards Grab Bag H804-1 Tobin Litho (pwcc)National Cycle Mfg Co - Chainless Bicycle - Uncle Sam - Trade Card FolderMallory Oysters Men Trade Iysters For Corn Baltimore Trade CardOld Trade Card Album-100+ Cards-38 From Woodstock, IlAntique Victorian Trade Card / Die Cut Out Advertising Scrapbook Album 175pcs +Rogues Smoking Tobacco - African American's Stripping Tobacco - LabelBoston Rubbers For Snow Storm - Trade Card FolderTobin Victorian Baseball Card See Me Swipe It Trade CardRare 1896 Large Mechanical Dial Puzzle Advertising Trade Card Tea Bicycle Vg81451890s Antique Victorian Mixed Lot Of 9 Color Trade Cards Tobacco Agricultural NrOld 1880 Grand Trunk Railway - Railroad Advertising Card - Boston / Chicago Set Of 4 Duke & Sons Chewing Tobacco Trade Cards Depicting Ladies SmokingVictorian Baseball Card Players Umpire Argue Trade Card1880's Starin's Glen Island Long Island Sound - Victorian Trade Card - Excursion1880's Hermitage Distillery - Sour Mash Whiskey - Trade Card - Frankfort Ky.Extremely Rare 1888 Victorian Fortune Teller Trade Card Colmbus Buggy Co. OhioLot Of 8 Antique Victorian Housewares Trade Cards Soap Oil Sewing Machine Glue1881 Boston & Hingham Steamboat Co. Nantasket Beach Railroad Co. Timetable Card1889 Trade Card Emerson Piano Co Boston Ma Toddler Huge Head Baseball Baby MckeeBaseball: 1900 T203 Mayo's Base Ball Comics Series, "the Bleachers"Ad Fldr: Eclipse Farm Engines, Saw Mills, Frick Co., 18811880's Lorilard's Tiger Cut Tobacco Trade Card - Moon Goddess - Butterfly WingsUs2354 Trade Card Farmer Friend Lever Planter Dayton Oh Corn Planter ManftUs2378 Trade Card Minneapolis Brewing Company Golden Grain Belt Beers FactoryJ 16 Arm & Hammer Beautiful Flower 1st Series Trade Cards #41 42 43 44 45 C1888Rare Seiberling Reaper & Mower - Farm Machinery Trade CardAntique Limbert Arts & Crafts Quartersawn Mission Oak Salesman Sample Trade Card1880's Higganum Mfg. - New York Seed Drill - Agricultural Victorian Trade Card1880's - Reid's Flower Seeds - Victorian Trade Card - Bicycle - Rochester N.y.Us2362 Trade Card The Wooden Hen Hen Brooder Quincy Illinois1880's - Levering's Roasted Coffee - Victorian Trade Card - Train - BaltimoreDomestic Sewing Machine Late 1800's Uncut Paper Doll Trade CardVictorian Die-cut Trade Card - Heinz 57 "good Things For The Table"Fantastic Uncle Sam Berry Brothers Advertising Card C19001880s Antique Lot Victorian Temperance Movement Alcohol Abstinence Pledge Cards1890 J1 Arm & Hammer Beautiful Birds Church Co Large Coupon #20 Song Finch1880's Phoenix Bottling Co. Business / Trade Card - Clausen Brewing Co. - BeerOld 1880's Knickerbocker Biscuit Co. - Business / Trade Card - New York Black Americana St Patrick's Salve Persuaders Quack Medicine Trade Card C1883 Russia Cement Co. Lepage's Liquid Glue Victorian Comic Trade Card A.g. Spalding & Bros. Late 1800's Lawn Tennis Paper Doll Trade CardDavenport Brother On Anti-spiritualist Trade Card-gr.britain-ca.1890s-v.fine-oo1930's Poker Hold N Draw Etc Trade Stimulator Orignal Payout Card W/tax StampUncle Sam Wheatlets - Franklin Mills Co. Great Die-cut!Chewing Gum Card: Mrs. Langtry For Faultless Chips, Gum That's Round 1890s1886 Impervious Package Co. Safety Oil Can - Kerosene Oil Victorian Trade CardFour Antique Black Americana Victorian Trade CardsUs2357 Trade Card Booklet Canton Plows Agricultureal Implements 1897 Canton Il1880's Buckeye Lawn Mower - Victorian Trade Card - P.p. Mast - San Francisco Ca.1880's Chas. H. Eggert & Bro Union Cigars Business / Trade Card - Brooklyn N.y. Gum/trade/tea Cards-mix Lot-approx 95 Cards,-lot D4Schuttler & Hotz Wagon Fat Stock Show Chicago 1888 Sheep Victorian Trade Card NrBaseball: Early Victorian Trade Card, "the Fielder" Theo. Leonhardt - Important Printer -chromo Cards - Trade Card