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Trade card, Varick Co.'s turnip man

Object Details

See more items in
Horticultural Artifacts Collection
Date
1885
Period
Victorian (1837-1901)
Accession number
1987.026.002
Description
Color lithographic print on cardstock. This trade card is for John B. Varick Company advertising seeds. It features an anthropomorphic Turnip man with a green coat and holding a walking stick and hat. The caption states, “Choice Seeds from our Growers.” 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.
Signed
Copyright Clay & Richmond, Buffalo, N.Y. 1885
Mark(s)
John B. Varick Co., Manchester, New Hampshire
Credit Line
Smithsonian Gardens, Horticultural Artifacts Collection.
Company
John B. Varick Company
Printer
Clay & Richmond
Topic
advertising cards
chromolithographs
ephemera
caricatures
marketing
seed
Seed industry and trade
Trade advertisements
Turnips
Victorian
Medium
Paper, lithograph
Dimensions
5 1/4 × 3 in. (13.3 × 7.6 cm)
Data Source
Smithsonian Gardens
Restrictions & Rights
Usage conditions apply
Type
Advertising ephemera
Trade cards
GUID
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/aq43793ac6d-9a3d-4f09-bc45-e6094959fae6
Record ID
hac_1987.026.002
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