A couple of weeks ago we rediscovered a scrapbook brimming with colorful advertising cards dating from the 1870s and 1880s.
This scrapbook (WH7) has the content of a Denver business directory (see addresses and proprietor names for pharmacies, dry goods stores, hat shops and more), but the visual appeal of a full-color storybook.
Why advertising cards? Also called "trade cards," these mass-produced cards could be easily customized with advertisers' information and then distributed in shops or tucked into packages. They often utilized bold colors and humorous or nostalgic imagery to grasp the attention of consumers.
Trade cards soon took on a collectible appeal and were sometimes displayed in scrapbooks. They remained popular in the United States during the 1880s and 1890s, but were superseded by color magazine advertisements in the 20th century.