The History Of Business Cards


Business Card History

II. Trade cards, 17th century

Trade cards, considered to precede business cards, were used in all parts of England.

The earliest forms of trade cards were to be found at the beginning of the 17th century in London. These were used as advertising and also as maps, directing the public to merchant's stores, as there was no formal street numbering system at the time.

The popularity of trade cards soared as they were most effective advertising as newspapers of the time were not well developed and trade cards by directing the reader to a merchant played the similar role to today's online media. The earliest forms of trade cards were printed by the woodcut or letterpress method. By the 18th century, copperplate engraving became the most popular method. Up to the 19th century, trade cards were still done in monotones, or with simple tints. As businesses grew, so did the production and distribution of trade cards. Around 1830, lithography using several colors became an established method in Europe.

During the 19th century new technology and improved speed of communication made the distribution of newspapers and periodicals more practical. Advertising in these media became more affordable and more widespread.

The advent of the machinery that was so lavishly displayed and advertised, was in itself responsible for the downfall of the trade card industry.






Croton Flour Mills tradecard

Best Chewing Tobacco tradecard

Deep Sea Mess Mackerel tradecard

The Charter Oak Lawn Mower tradecard

I.  Visiting Cards 17th Century   ●  II.  Trade Cards 17th Century   ●  III.  Business Cards 19th Century   ●  IV.  Calling Card Etiquette     V.  Trade Cards History

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