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John and Jane Adams Trade Card Collection, 1875-1915Add to your cart. | Special Collections & University Archives

Title: John and Jane Adams Trade Card Collection, 1875-1915Add to your cart.
ID: MS-0406
Extent: 0.67 Linear Feet
expand icon Historical Note

Trade cards, also known as advertising cards, were wildly popular collectibles in the latter half of the nineteenth century as consumer culture took over America. Advertising a huge variety of manufactured goods in bright chromolithographed colors, trade cards were produced by advertisers to encourage recognition of brand names and to stimulate demand for the products advertised. Though trade cards sometimes feature rather generic Victorian images of flowers or birds, these attractive pieces of ephemera often feature comic little vignettes with punchy slogans, or instructions for catchy games to be played using the card. Some are die-cut, and some have folding or moveable pieces--features that surely made great fun for their collectors. Trade cards were often issued in series to emphasize their collectible aspect, and this collection has many representatives from various series; for example, McLaughlin's Coffee "War Ship" series, or Arbuckle's "States" series.

Trade cards often contain a separate advertisement for the local seller of the product, usually on the verso of the card.

A huge variety of social and cultural topics are open for study using trade cards. Depictions of women and femininity, domesticity and the American home, advertising methods and consumerism, social mores, race relations, humor--all are made tangible in this type of American ephemera.

expand icon Arrangement

The collection is arranged alphabetically by type of product. Within each folder, cards are arranged alphabetically by name of product advertised. There is a "Miscellaneous Products" folder found at the end of the collection which houses cards not readily categorizeable. Cards that do not advertise a product, but were rather meant to serve as advertising for a business, are housed in the "Individual Businesses" folder.

When a count appears in parentheses after a product listing in the finding aid (i.e., Union Sewing Machine (10)), this denotes that there are ten different cards advertising the Union Sewing Machine. There are no duplicate cards in the collection.

expand icon Forms of Material (links to similar genres)
expand icon Administrative Information
Acquired: 1989.
Restrictions: This collection is open for research.
Rights: These materials are in the public domain. However, the nature of historical archival and manuscript collections means that copyright status may be difficult or even impossible to determine. Copyright resides with the creators of materials contained in the collection or their heirs. Requests for permission to publish must be submitted to the Head of Special Collections, San Diego State University, Library and Information Access. When granted, permission is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical item and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder(s), which must also be obtained in order to publish. Materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials.
Related Materials:

John and Jane Adams Greeting Card Collection

John and Jane Adams Autograph Album Collection

John and Jane Adams Postcard Collection

Preferred Citation: Identification of item, folder title, box number, John and Jane Adams Trade Card Collection, Special Collections and University Archives, Library and Information Access, San Diego State University.
Collection Material Type: Ephemera
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