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Posts Tagged ‘victorian trade cards’

Late 18th century/early 19th century patent medicines, particularly the old English remedies, owed their popularity to the following fact.  The multitude of ingredients inside might have varied (unbeknownst to the customer), but the bottle shape did not.  A patent medicine’s proprietor believed this distinctiveness leant genuineness to their remedy. 

Victorian trade card, bottle of Ayers Cherry Pectoral

Victorian trade card, bottle of Ayers Cherry Pectoral

Distinctive packaging may have made patent medicines easily recognizable to even the most illiterate, but it also made them vulnerable to counterfeiters.  Naïve proprietors eventually got smart and began to vary their packaging using differing bottle heights, mouth widths, and bottle inscriptions in order to deter counterfeiters.  This may also explain why many of today’s products, not just over the counter medicines, change their packaging from time to time.  Why chance loosing sales to an unscrupulous competitor?

Victorian Trade Card Ayers Ague Cure

close up of bottle on back of Victorian trade card advertising Ayers Ague Cure (notice the similarity in bottle shapes)

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Thought I would post a couple of comical Victorian trade cards to “lift” the winter blues.  Spring can’t come fast enough for me.

Comical stock card of man leaping over fence to leave dog behind.

Comical stock card of man leaping over fence to leave dog behind rather than having a bite taken out of him. (ouch!)

Minard Liniment Victorian Trade Card

Patent medicine Victorian trade card advertising Minard's Liniment for Nelson & Co. of Boston (poor guy)

Sweet Home Soap Victorian Trade Card
Victorian Trade Card advertising Sweet Home Soap for J.S. Larkin & Co. of Buffalo, NY (what kid wants to take a bath?)

* More great Victorian trade cards for sale can be found at Remember When Vintage Postcards.

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Ever get the feeling that battling the corporate giants was an uphill battle?  Riley Burdett found that out the hard way.  The pictured Victorian trade card is advertising for an organ company in which Riley was partners with Jacob Estey.  In 1871, Riley sued Jacob over an alleged patent infringement involving a reed board.

Estey Organ Victorian Trade Card

Victorian trade card advertising for Estey Organ Co.

Illness, Death, and Delay

It took 5 years after bringing suit, to hear the case.  However, due to the illness of one judge, and the death of two others, the case had still not been decided two years later.  During this time, Estey Organ Co. was allowed to benefit from a patent Riley felt was rightfully his.  How frustrating for Riley.   Two new judges then heard the case.  It took them just 5 months to make a decision. 

The Decision

The judge found in favor of Riley.  Ex-Governor Stewart of Vermont was appointed to take an accounting of profits due Riley.  Stewart took 5 months to find Jacob of Estey Organ Co. owed Riley $161,000.  This is approximately $3.46 million in today’s dollars.

No Decision Is Final

Of course Jacob appealed.  He put up a required bond of $200,000.  What?  Jacob put up money in an amount exceeding the awarded damages?  What if he ultimately lost the case?  Jacob Estey took a chance.

The chance paid off.  In November 1883, the United States Supreme Court ultimately decided in favor of Estey Organ Company.  Riley Burdett had fought then corporate giant, Estey Organ Company and lost.

Trivia:  If curious what yesterday’s dollar is worth today, see MeasuringWorth.com.

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Puzzle cards were a type of novelty victorian trade card used in late 19th century advertising to capture and keep a potential customer’s attention.  Puzzle cards differed from other novelty trade cards in that they required more effort and concentration by customers.  Below is an example of a puzzle card with hidden pictures.

Carters Backache Plasters Puzzle Trade Card

Carters Backache Plasters Puzzle Trade Card: see if you can find an elephant, monkey, giraff, bear, dog, wild boar, 2 camels, wolf, 2 rats, face, lion, lioness, and tapir.

TIP:  Hidden Picture Trade Cards with color images are scarce.  Also look for hidden picture trade cards with unusual hidden objects like “nigger eating watermelon” or “fat man on roller skates”.

** You can find more victorian trade cards with great advertising and graphics in my store, Remember When Vintage Postcards.

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Atmore's Mince Meat Trade Card - Santa Claus

Atmore's Mince Meat Victorian Trade Card showing Santa Claus (1 of 8 in set printed by Ketterlinus)

It is always tough for me to find info on the companies behind various Victorian trade cards.  I thought I’d pass along a resource/place to look when researching trade cards in your collection.

I found info on Atmore & Sons in an 1879 general survey of factories and mills in Philadelphia, PA.  It had detailed info on the factory building, plus where various business functions occured (canning on west side of factory in shed also used for wagons, main building – dried fruit storage in basement, fruit sorting on third floor, apple paring on second floor, etc).

I also found out this factory was not their first as it was erected in 1878 and the business was established in 1842.  So, where were they previously?  For now that will remain a mystery.

Anotherwards, look in old building survey records for info on companies and how, when, and where they operated.

** More great Victorian trade cards to research (and buy) available in my store, Remember When Vintage Postcards.

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Hills Optician Victorian Trade Card

Victorian Trade Card advertisement for Vivian W. Hills, Optician, of Norway, ME

Part of the claim on back reads, “… HILLS has fitted cases that the “so called opticians” said could not be fitted.  Thousands of eyes are spoiled by the use of spects not perfectly adapted to the eye…”  This claim seems to reinforce an entry from the Optical Journal of 1901 that warned of troublesome itinerant peddlers – “If you value your eyesight, you will place no confidence in the statements of tramps who go from house to house selling spectacles. They will tell you your eyes are diseased and nothing but their electric or magnetised glasses will save you from blindness. Such talk is an insult to your intelligence.”.  Sounds like wild claims aren’t confined to patent medicines.  Electric eyeglasses?  Interesting.
  
Trivia:  Zylonite,or zyl, is the most common type of plastic frame today.
  
** Additional Victorian trade cards for sale in my store, Remember When Vintage Postcards.

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JP_Coats_Thread_Trade_Card_Umbrella

JP Coats Fast Black Thread Victorian Trade Card

JP_Coats_Thread_Trade_Card_Mad_Dog

1881 JP Coats Thread Victorian trade card with needle and thread tables for sewing machines on back

Just a short one this time.  I thought some of my readers of Victorian trade card blog posts might find the following images of JP Coats display cases used by dealers interesting.  I came across them while searching for current images of JP Coats sewing thread.

JP Coats Sewing Thread 6-drawer Display Case currently selling for $2975

JP Coats Display Cabinet

JP Coats Sewing Thread Display Cabinet that sold for $747.50

JP Coats Display Inside

Inside of above type of JP Coats display case

** If you liked this Victorian trade card related blog post, please click on the below buttons or the bookmark button to the lower right.  Thank you for visiting!

It’s Postcard Friendship Friday! Be sure to stop by The Best Hearts Are Crunchy blog to see all the postcards being shared.

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