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Trade Cards Became Popular in the Late Nineteenth Century

With the rise of chromolithography in advertising in nineteenth century America it was no surprise that the garden industry joined the ranks of those who used such chromos in their business.

The Boston Athenaeum houses a collection of nineteenth century chromos.  Last week I attended a lecture there, given by Catharina Slautterback, the curator of the Athenaeum’s chromo collection.

Catharina first discussed show cards, which sometimes  measured 2 by 3 feet and appeared from the mid nineteenth century, as ads for a company.  Such chromos were framed and hung in public areas to attract business.  In the later part of the century trade cards came on the scene.  Trade cards as ads  measured roughly 3 inches by 5 1/2 inches.

Trade card of 1898
Trade card of 1898

Here [above]  is a chromo trade card from 1898 that the Charlton Nursery in Rochester, New York distributed.

The image is of the rose ‘Crimson Rambler’ which came from England and swept the country, appearing in many seed and nursery catalogs of that period.  The rose was referred to as the ‘grandest rose of the century’.

The ‘Crimson Rambler’ was sold well into the 1930s, when more dependable varieties appeared.

Like every business, the garden industry used chromolithography to promote its product, seeds and plants.  In the process it gave the world such stunning trade cards as this example from the Charlton Nursery.

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