During the Victorian era, trading cards were used to advertise products, but they also reveal the racism and sexism that was rife at the time. They look so playful and innocent, but there’s a sinister underbelly to their cartoonish surface…
The Charles and Laura Dohm Shields Trade Card Collection is housed in the Walter Havighurst Special Collections Library at Miami University. Donated in 1987 by Charles Dohm Shields the collection contains several thousand advertising trade cards dating from the late 19th and early 20th Century. The collection was started by Charles’s mother Laura Dohm Shields.
Trade Cards were typically used to advertise products and services including such items as patent medicines, thread, sewing machines, food and beverages, farm equipment and others. Trade cards reached the height of their popularity during the 1880’s and 1890’s.
Reduced postal rates and the rise of magazine publishing led to the eventual decline in popularity of this unique American form of advertising. Miami University Libary