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Trade card, D. M. Ferry and Co.

Object Details

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Horticultural Artifacts Collection
ca. 1880-1910
Victorian (1837-1901)
Accession number
Color lithographic print on cardstock. This trade card is for D. M. Ferry & Co. seedsmen of Detroit, Michigan. The illustration includes pink blossoms with green foliage with the caption, “Presented by A. D. Hoagg.” On the verso is handwritten notations.
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.
Credit Line
Smithsonian Gardens, Horticultural Artifacts Collection.
D.M. Ferry & Co
advertising cards
flowers (plants)
Seed industry and trade
Trade advertisements
Paper, lithograph
2 7/8 × 4 1/2 in. (7.3 × 11.4 cm)
Data Source
Smithsonian Gardens
Restrictions & Rights
Usage conditions apply
Advertising ephemera
Trade cards
Record ID
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