Skip to main content

Trade card, Rice's celery woman with parasol

Object Details

See more items in
Horticultural Artifacts Collection
Victorian (1837-1901)
Accession number
Color lithographic print on cardstock. This trade card is for the Jerome B. Rice and Company advertising White Plume Celery seeds. It features an anthropomorphic celery woman with parasol. The woman wears a white and blue blouse with matching hat, red shoes, and a red umbrella. Her skirt is made of celery ribs with the leafy tops acting as the ruffles. The captions include: “Something new White Plume Celery grows fit for table use with only one ‘hoeing up’,” “Large Packets, Genuine Seeds, only found in Rices box of choice vegetables,” and “White Plume is the earliest in cultivation as well as the most ornamental remember – our northern grown celery seed will produce stronger healthier and earlier plants than that grown south or west.” Vegetable people were a popular subject for trade cards, especially from 1885 to 1890. They were intended to be a combination of eccentric personality-types and healthy produce with a comical twist. These caricatures are often pictured with probs including hats, walking sticks, cigars, umbrellas, gardening tools, or musical instruments.
Label Text
In the period following the Civil War, the use of trade cards became widespread in America, reaching the height of popularity and design in the late-nineteenth century. The equivalent to the modern business card, a trade card was a means to promote a variety of goods and services, and act as a memory aid used by merchants and traders. Trade cards were usually square or rectangular, made of paper, and sufficiently small to fit inside a gentleman’s pocket or a lady’s purse. Advances in multi-color printing and color lithography fueled increasingly sophisticated designs and made cards more affordable to businesses. Cards usually had an image on one side and the businesses information on the other. Stock cards were available, with a blank space for companies to fill in their own information.
In the late nineteenth century, companies used trade cards as a form of promotion. Businesses distributed these cards to clients and potential customers at exhibitions and fairs, on sidewalks, through the mail, stuffed in packages, or in stacks on store countertops. The attractive and colorful designs and illustrations led to the popular hobby of collecting trade cards in the late nineteenth century. Cards were kept in albums, hung on walls, put in frames, and added to scrapbooks. The passion for collecting led trade cards to become trading cards as enthusiasts exchanged cards among each other.
Copyright 1887.
Credit Line
Smithsonian Gardens, Horticultural Artifacts Collection.
Jerome B. Rice & Co
advertising cards
Seed industry and trade
Trade advertisements
Paper, lithograph
5 1/4 × 3 in. (13.3 × 7.6 cm)
Data Source
Smithsonian Gardens
Restrictions & Rights
Usage conditions apply
Advertising ephemera
Trade cards
Record ID
Back to Top