Scholla: Trade Cards May 11, 1942

5/11/1942 Trade Cards

One of the fads of collectors is the accumulation of old advertising cards known as “old store cards” or trade cards. Shortly after the Civil War merchants developed a form of advertising by presenting customers with colored cards depicting beautiful or humorous scenes. This form of advertising was given impetus by the invention of lithographing and the public delighted in collecting these bright hue pasteboards. Usually the cards formed a set or series of baseball players and the flags of various countries. Many subjects could be used to form sets and customers receiving a few cards belonging to a set were induced to return to the same store in order to obtain more cards and thereby complete their sets.

During the period of the 1880’s many persons formed scrap books of these trade cards and today they are interesting as mementoes of business firms, which have ceased to exist. Into this writer’s hands there have come many such cards from all sections of Berks and nearby counties but the most interesting one comes from the Manatawny district.

Aug. G. Body, proprietor of the Yellow House Hotel, used the dialect to advertise his hostelry. The following “ad” appears on the reverse side of the picture entitled the “Ferryman,” showing a frog carrying a mouse across a stream”

Shtop a Leedle!

If you bin a traveling man und got no place to shtay maybe you petter go oug dot

YELLOW HOUSE HOTEL

Near the Manatawny Fishing Creek

Where dare is scheap boarding und fair brices

If you don’t see what you want yust speak out.

Bill von Fare ganz reasonable.

The custom of issuing cards disappeared almost entirely at the turn of the century when merchants found that newspapers furnished a vastly superior advertising medium. The trouble with the trade card idea was that you had to get the customer into the store before you could advertise.

Carpenter Organ's for sale by C.H. Lichty Trade Card. Courtesy of the Berks County Historical Society
Carpenter Organ’s for sale by C.H. Lichty Trade Card Obverse. Courtesy of the Berks County Historical Society
Carpenter Organ's for sale by C.H. Lichty Trade Card Reverse. Courtesy of the Berks County Historical Society
Carpenter Organ’s for sale by C.H. Lichty Trade Card Reverse. Courtesy of the Berks County Historical Society
Union 10 per cent Clothing House 402-404 Penn Street Reading, PA Obverse. Courtesy of the Historical Society of Berks County.
Union 10 per cent Clothing House 402-404 Penn Street Reading, PA Obverse. Courtesy of the Historical Society of Berks County.

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