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Capillaris Trade Card Ink Color Variants

by Richard Sheaff

T. Hill Mansfield of Portland, Maine  put out quite a few different trade cards for his Capillaris (sometimes Ca-Pill-Lar-Ris) vaseline + cosmoline hair treatment ointment. The cards with this wood-engraved design are interesting for the number of varieties which exist. For one thing, there were at least three different printings, as evidenced by minor design differences to seen in the upper right area of the cards. The one shown above has only a simple pointy fleuron above Mansfield’s name. Four others have added wording, plus a butterfly and other typographic “dingbats.” Three others shown have the wording plus different “dingbats.”

More unusual are the many color combination variations. Here are shown eight different color combos I have come across so far . . .  I expect that there are others out there, perhaps several. The question is: why? Why go to the expense of what looks like many printings? Perhaps there were actually only the three printings, and during each run the printer several times took the time and effort to wash up, repeatedly replace the inks in the fountains, and thus produce all these many color variations.

In any event, an unusual (and somewhat expensive) thing to do!


There are a number of variations of this image, in black and white and in color. This one is a wood engraving.


The same wood engraving printed on a yellow card stock.

A crayon chromolitho version of the design

A color chromo version. There are other variations of this girl-and-dog image . . .  I’ll add more another time . . .


(Seen online)

(Seen online)