Cornell Online Exhibition of 19th Century Trade Cards

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November 20, 2017 Ephemera Society

Trade Cards: An Illustrated History

 

Trade Cards: An Illustrated History features highlights from the Waxman Collection of Food and Culinary Trade Cards—a remarkable assemblage of advertising trade cards about food and related subjects ca. 1870-1900. Trade cards provide a surprisingly revealing look at America during a period of growth and national pride, set against the nineteenth century’s unshakable faith in perpetual civic and individual self-improvement. This online exhibition provides an illustrated overview of the history of trade cards, while exploring the ways in which they illuminate late-nineteenth-century American life, culture, fashion, society, and identity.

View the online exhibition

 

         

Introducing Trade Cards

 

Trade Cards: An Illustrated History features highlights from the Waxman Collection of Food and Culinary Trade Cards—a remarkable assemblage of advertising trade cards about food and related subjects ca. 1870-1900. Owing to the breadth of its content, the Waxman Collection provides insight into many aspects of late nineteenth-century life. Not only does it demonstrate the obvious—what men and women ate or wore or how they furnished their homes—it also sheds light on the underpinnings of middle-class Victorian culture. The products and the services that people bought and the manner in which those who sought their business couched their appeals, teaches us something about the Victorians—what kind of knowledge they had, the nature of their beliefs, their tastes, assumptions, their sensibilities and their social aspirations.

This exhibition of trade cards illustrates such diverse topics as recreation, pastimes, racial attitudes and stereotypes, patriotism, purity and health, gender roles, and more. These are meant to suggest some of the ways in which these cards shed light on many aspects of American history and culture.

[All text taken from "Introducing Trade Cards." Cornell University Library Division of Rare & Manuscript Collections, 2017. Written by Nach (1958) and Maron Waxman.]


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