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Optician Trade Card

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Cards397 of 636My grandfathers cards, my heritage!GRAPHICA Double-DECK Playing CARDS - VINTAGE ANTIQUE FLORA
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Posted 4 years ago


(44 items)

I found this card while riffling through and old dresser with broken bakelite drawer pulls sitting on the sidewalk this week. It felt serendipitous because I have been considering getting my eyes tested for glasses, as I know I need them, but haven't done so yet.

It looks to me to be around a hundred years old, though the paper is surprisingly thin (not a typical thicker trade card). Does anyone understand the back form with blanks (ie. the numbers 1-13 and couple #, table #, etc.) ?

I'm quite curious...


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  1. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 4 years ago
    They didn't know how to spell numbers other than 6 & 9. I worked in an optical lab. while in school but can't remember much of it. Those are for marking the readings when they test eyesight.. Lens are then ground to suit the patient's needs. My guess is that the range between 6 & 9 is considered normal. Of course you would have a card for each eye. This is pre '40's at least as it is a basic scale with no details for such as stigmatism etc.
  2. Hunter Hunter, 4 years ago
    thanks blunderbuss - what do you think the Table No. / Couple No. part means? A colleague suggested the form was for a dance contest or something (unrelated to optics), and thought maybe the "six" and "nine" were written out to avoid confusion if it was upside down. But clearly the card is oriented in this direction, so that seems a little weird anyway.
  3. walksoftly walksoftly, 4 years ago
    Table - work station?
    Couple - pair of lenses?
  4. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 4 years ago
    Hunter, 50 yrs ago we would get a slip/card in a tray with the chunks of glass with the front usually already finished to the proper dimentions. We then the prescribed 4 & centre dimentions & polished. Your card is so old that I doubt if an occulist under 90 yrs old could know as it is a science now when back then it was crude. When we accidentally ground a lense too thin etc., we put them in a 50 gal. drum & discount places like House of $8.50 would bid on them & sell our defects. Probably similar to what was done in the days your card was printed but a little better.
  5. Hunter Hunter, 4 years ago
    great to know BB - pretty fascinating history, those eyeglasses!
  6. Hunter Hunter, 4 years ago
    * and I like your take walksoftly!
  7. stefdesign stefdesign, 4 years ago
    Could it be a tally for Bridge or Pinocle or Canasta with an ad for the optical business? I don't know anything about any if those games, but the table and couple terms lead me to believe it has nothing to do with eyeglasses.
  8. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 4 years ago
    stef could be right. It sure doesn't match anything in my experience.
  9. too_much_stuff, 4 years ago
    Just my 2 cents worth, I think it is a card for a dance competition. Like professional Ballroom dancing and such. Couples would enter a competition at a dance hall or supper club. There would be judges, couple pays a fee. Each dance of the evening is judged with a score, at the end of the evening a tally would be made, and awards were given out. Sometimes events like these were to raise money, often connected to a Fraternal Society like the American Legion or the Knights of Columbus. The Optical connection is that the store was getting their services advertised to the attendees, and also established a connection between the organization members and the establishment. i.e. Joe is a friend of the Legion, buy your glasses from Joe. I cannot explain why the 6 & 9 are spelled out, could possibly be connected to a special promotion give away or type of dance.

    anyway that's my theory.
  10. walksoftly walksoftly, 4 years ago
    That is a good possibility t m s , as the card does say "these cards furnished free by".
  11. Hunter Hunter, 4 years ago
    Yeah, I do think the cards were used as a form of advertising for an unrelated purpose...though it also seems odd that any competition would start with round "0," don't you think?
  12. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 4 years ago
    Maybe they expect Newfie contestants.
  13. walksoftly walksoftly, 4 years ago
    May'be it isn't round zero, but zero points.
  14. Hunter Hunter, 4 years ago
    ah, could be. (I had to Google "Newfie" BB :)

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