Japanesque Trade Cards

With the opening of Japan to trade in 1854, the American market was flooded with goods from the Far East. Later on, exhibits of Japanese goods at the Centennial Exhibition in 1876 in Philadelphia and the success of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta The Mikado as well as New York’s exhibit The Japanese Village, both in 1885, exposed more Americans to Japanese wares and design.

Japanese novelty stores in major cities in the 1870s made goods more accessible and cheaper for customers. American companies also incorporated Japanese imagery in their advertising to cash in on the craze.

This selection of trade cards shows a wide variety of products being advertised, using Japanesque illustration and characters.

Click on a page number to learn more. (A new window will open.*)

*Requires the use of JavaScript.

   © 2011 The Ephemera Society of America