I was looking thru my Victorian trade cards for one with Christmas features, and found this trade card by Lion Coffee. In researching Lion Coffee, I found out they were part of the first great advertising campaign in history. Guess what? They’re still around thanks to a specialty coffee company in Hawaii.
Lion Coffee’s Pioneering Start
L.B. Shattucck and partner C.C. Warren started Lion Coffee (which also ground spices), in 1864 from a factory in Toledo, OH. By the 1870’s, they prospered in part due to advertising that boasted 8,000 lbs. of coffee roasted every day. This advertising also mentioned Lion Coffee was sold in 1lb papers; a pioneering effort back then to establish a brand name packaged coffee.
In the 1870’s, La Monte C. Bidwell joins the company, now called Warren & Bidwell, as partner and L.B. Shattucck is heard of no more.
Woolson Spice Co. Buys Up Struggling Coffee Company
After returning from the Civil War and working on the railroad, Alvin M. Woolson moved to Toledo, OH where he clerked in a country store. After a year, he set up shop for himself in Wauseon, OH with capital of $125. He moved back to Toledo after marrying in 1875, where he opened a grocery store.
Alvin M. Woolson snapped up the financially struggling Warren & Bidwell at an auction. So in 1882, the Woolson Spice Company was born with $30,000 and significant support from Toledo’s business community. It took 10 years to realize a profit. Over the next five years, millions were realized.
Lion Coffee Today
In 1897, Woolson retired. Rights to the Woolson Company assets were bought by Delano West Ltd, a Hawaiian company, in 1980. The coffee is now Kona rather than Rio based. And yes, premiums are still offered.
More Victorian trade cards with great graphics can be found in my store, Remember When Vintage Postcards.
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