Saturday, April 9, 2011

Trade Cards

Frank's Dining Room.

Frank's Dining Room - 15 Harrison avenue, 1888 map.

Trade cards were a very popular form of advertising during the late 19th Century. They had been used throughout the 1800s, but the development of color lithography in the 1870s lead to a great increase in their use. These weren't just throw-away items - they were brought home and pasted into scrapbooks as well. Happily, not all were treated that way, so we have them available to us now.

As you can see in this small collection, certain genres were popular. Cherubic children, flowers, and comic figures are very common. In many cases, it is hard to associate the product with the picture, so as is true today, the advertisement was meant to catch the eye more than to inform.

Here's an idea for the person with a love for Boston history and a need to fill a wall space with something very cool: get yourself to ebay, and do a search for Boston trade cards. You'll find a wide range of them available for small money. Buy a few, thinking of their sizes, and how they'd fit together in a frame. Then, find the DIY picture framing shop in Brookline Village, and visit them. They'll set you up with mat, frame and glass, and cut your mat for you. Then in you go to the assembly room, and you put your cards into the mat and put the mat in the frame. I recommend small plastic corners to hold the cards without using adhesive on them. When it's all together, you have a beautiful framed collection of Boston-related art collectibles, and all the kids on your block will want one. ;-)

I've marked the locations of the businesses in blue. Many buildings had multiple tenants, so a shop may have been one of two or three within the marked building.

Edward C. Almy & Co. Fine Clothes.

Edward C. Almy & Co., 616 Washington street, 1888 map.

R. & J. Gilchrist, Dry Goods. Did this become The Gilchrist department store that sat at the corner of Washington and Winter streets for much of the 20th Century? I assume so, but I haven't been able to nail it down.

R.& J. Gilchrist, 5 and 7 Winter street, 1888 map.

Griswold Corset Parlor. The Boston Directory of 1885 lists the proprietor as Mrs K.A. Griswold. Yes, women owned and operated businesses in 1885.

Griswold Corsets, 359 Washington street, 1888 map.

Lewando's French Dye House.

Lewando's French Dye House, 17 Temple Place, 1888 map

Now that I think of it, do I remember seeing a Lewando's dry cleaner business somewhere?

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