Fred Lavy writes:



My Favorite Card:  1872

Liniment for Man and Beast

“Here’s a scan of one of my favorite advertising trade cards.
I love these anthropomorphic images.”


This “Doctor Roan” image and rhyme both cleverly combine Man and Beast:

       “This is old Doctor Roan

       You may let him alone

       For knowing what’s good for diseased

               flesh and bone.”              (Act of Congress, 1872.  Clay, Cosack & Co., Buffalo, N.Y.)


My first “favorite” was of monkeys in a barber shop.
Next I had to obtain all the Bon Marché veggie people images.”

                                                                 – Collector Fred Lavy


What are Victorian Trade Cards?

Classic Victorian Trade Card for National Yeast Co. NY

Victorian trade cards are illustrated business advertising cards from the 19th Century.

Typically printed in multiple colors, these cards were freely distributed to promote goods and services through images and text designed to be so informative, so clever, or so attractive that consumers would have a hard time throwing the ad away.


Currier & Ives Victorian Advertising Trade Card
Currier & Ives dabbled in printing trade cards between 1877 and 1882. Their 12 or so series featured a range of subjects running from Sports Comics and City Views to Railroad Trains and Champion Race Horses.  Most of their 200+ known card designs are of average size and quality, printed in 3 to 5 colors and cut to about 5 inches in width, slightly smaller than a modern postcard.

The Rise of 19th Century Advertising Cards


The “Golden Years” for American advertising trade cards began with their explosion in popularity as free exhibit souvenirs from vendors at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia.  The Golden Years for Victorian trade cards ended around 1901.


In 1876, the American Industrial Revolution was hitting full steam.  Innovators and manufactures were developing new products, and they were eager to showcase their goods and explain the benefits of their brands in the most spectacular and memorable ways possible.

Full-color Victorian trade cards fit the bill perfectly.


In an age dominated by stark black and white photography and one-ink letter presses, the rainbows of colors and extravagances in chromolithographed images made Victorian trade cards an instant hit.

Most of the early cards were produced by well-established lithographers in Philadelphia, Boston, and New York, but as the popularity of Victorian trade cards mushroomed, other printers began setting up color presses and producing them in virtually every major city in America. 

By the time of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and Columbian Exposition, a business could hardly be considered respectable if it was not issuing cards worthy of a collector’s album.


Uncle Sam and Miss Columbian at the Chicago Worlds Fair.
Exhibitors at major fairs and expositions often provided free souvenir cards for those who visited their booths. These cards typically featured proud and patriotic images, as well as depictions of fairground buildings linked to the marvels of the products being promoted. This 1893 Columbian Exposition card is unusual in that it is an example of early off-set printing; most Victorian trade cards were printed as lithographs.

Major lithographers like Ottmann of New York landed the biggest printing contracts with national firms like Hires Root Beer and the Singer Sewing Machine Company, who placed orders of hundreds of thousands of cards at at time. 

But there was plenty of business for everyone, large or small.

In remote villages, print shops joined the action by customizing cards to their handful of stores on Main Street.  These shops would purchase thousands of assorted color “stock cards” from the big cities.  Stock cards arrived in bulk with blank areas for the imprinting local business names and addresses, as well as any requested advertising text that could fit in the remaining space.  

Stock cards could be imprinted one-by-one using inexpensive card presses which were sold mail order for just such purposes.  In small town press rooms, or even in the basement of a dry goods store, a store name and address could be applied by means of a rubber stamp.


Sales representative for TRIX "Breath Perfume" passing out free cards to kids.
A female sales representative for TRIX “Breath Perfume” distributes free advertising cards during a sidewalk stroll. Cards distributed in this manner sometimes have messages on the back, such as: “Children, be sure to show this card to your mother, and don’t forget to….”

By the 1880’s, collecting Victorian trade cards had become a national craze.

Articles were written about the proper way to trim the margins off  advertising cards so the distraction of white borders would be eliminated when a card was pasted into a scrapbook.

Discussions were held on the merits of mounting cards with flour pastes rather than with leather glues.  Etiquette essays were written to instruct refined young women how to cluster their cards in  themes, as well as how to select certain types of albums to reflect the highest possible level of sophistication.  Children competed with neighbors to see who could fill the most parlor albums the quickest, but parents got in on the fad as well.


Chase's Liquid Glue Victorian Trade Card, family with scrapbook project at table.
Numerous versions of this classic Chase’s Liquid Glue ad can be found, ranging widely in quality depending upon which lithographer printed the card, and how much this Boston company was willing to pay for that particular press run.  This example is on the low end of quality, with an almost comic book style of coloration.  Compare the faces in this image with the quality of facial tones on the National Yeast Co. card at the top of this blog.  BTW, NOTE the text: “…will hold fancy cards in scrap books without wrinkling….”

Mothers would help the wee ones with their collecting, and in many cases, the scrapbook became as much the mother’s project as anyone’s. 

Men began seriously collecting cards in the 1880’s when tobacco companies started issuing sports cards, joke cards, and actress cards with men in mind.

(Tobacco insert cards evolved into a genre of their own.  More on that in a future blog.)


How Victorian Trade Cards were distributed:


Victorian trade cards were often placed in stacks on store counters, free for the taking.

Other times they were passed out by salespeople on the sidewalk.

They could even be found packaged as “prizes” inside coffee tins or boxes of soap.


"Card Fiends" series stock card.
Examples from this “Card Fiends” series can be found with imprints from locations all over North America. The female shopper in this example has filled her arms with Victorian trade cards, advertising card die-cuts, and card novelties from every store in town. This example is imprinted for a hardware store in South English, Iowa… a town today with a few over 200 souls.

To exploit increasing demand, book stores started buying batches of cards to sell to collectors.

Collectors began writing to companies for free samples, or even sending money directly to printers to purchase large assortments of cards before (or sometimes after) the ads were applied.


This Victorian trade card promises: "4 Chromo Cards Given Away to Each Customer...."
The prospect of free cards lured many consumers into stores and purchases they might otherwise have skipped. This Victorian trade card promises: “4 Chromo Cards Given Away to Each Customer….” It was left to the shopkeeper and the guest to haggle out the definition of “Customer,” and whether a purchase was required for them to receive their free Victorian trade cards.

By the mid-1880’s, Victorian trade cards were being distributed and collected from coast to coast, from affluent urban centers to rural farm villages and remote mountain mining camps.


Stock card with pretty flower girl: J.A. Godrey & Co., Clothiers & Haters, 46 Bank St., Waterbury, CT.
The reverse of this stock card was boldly imprinted with the plea: “STOP… Read This Before You Take Another Step.” The rest of the text promoted a clothing sale, then concluded with the business information: “J.A. Godrey & Co., Clothiers & Haters, 46 Bank St., Waterbury, Conn.”

The Fall of Victorian Trade Cards

The prestige of trade cards tapered off dramatically after the Buffalo, New York, Pan-American Exposition World’s Fair of 1901

By the arrival of the 1900’s, colorful magazine ads were on the rise, and the new fad of collecting postcards was taking the nation by storm.  For the “modern” young people of the new century, assembling and organizing hand-addressed postal cards was all the rage.  Filing and shuffling their exotic treasures in the slotted black pages of post card albums made gluing Victorian trade cards seem messy, and more like something “old-fashioned” only their mothers would do.

Queen Victoria ruled the UK from 1837 until she died of old age in 1901.

It seems fitting that as the Victorian era passed away and made room for the innovations of the 20th century, so, too, did Victorian trade cards fade away and yield their preeminence to modern advertising and the new cards that became in many ways the equivalent of Twitter and Selfies today.

But more on the transition from trade cards to postcards will be covered in a future blog.


For an in-depth expanded version of this blog,

click the article link below:


Again, as always, all the BEST to you…  and Good Collecting! — Dave Cheadle

Robert A. Olson writes:

My Favorite Card:  Die-Cut

Punch and Judy Puppets

“I focus on trade cards featuring Magic, Magicians, Ventriloquists,
and Punch & Judy puppets.


Here is my favorite trade card from my Punch and Judy collection.
It is a die-cut card of a French Punch and Judy show,
with the stage area cut out so the two puppets stand alone.
When the front of this folding card is viewed open,
you see the children watching the show;
the two puppets are about to battle each other with their Slapsticks.
But this card also provides a “back stage” view, as seen below.


This second image shows the inside of the Punch and Judy booth,
with the puppeteer holding up two of his puppets, Punch in Yellow and Blue,
and Harlequin in Diamond Pattern Clothes and Mask.
Judy lies quietly on his right.



The ad on the back is from the Paris Department store, Au Bon Marche.
This card is circa 1890s.
Most cards show the Puppet booth from the front,
or Punch alone as a single character.


This Punch and Judy Card is unique
because it has both views of the Puppet Show:
behind the scenes inside the booth,
as well as with the audience watching from the front.

                                                                                  — Collector Robert A. Olson (RAOlson), Connecticut

NOTE:  RAOlson, who besides, magic also performs Punch and Judy.



Cocoanut Metamorphic Trade Card

Visual Tales of Consumer Transformations

Everybody likes a good story.

Especially the kind of tale that delivers a happy ending.

Advertisers know this, so their most effective ads often tell the story of a good experience, a difficult life that is upgraded and improved through the purchase of a specific product and brand.


Metamorphic food card showing the happy transformation of "Senator Jones."
According to many Before and After trade card tales, a consumer (like the above “Senator Jones”) can be literally transformed from a state of frowns and frustrations to a place of bliss and grins… merely by purchasing the correct item.
With and Without card showing young people on a picnic cooking outdoors.
The “Problem to be Solved” in this picnic narrative was the fuss and bother of having to build and tend a wood fire for a hot drink. The solution, of course, was found through the purchase of a clean and modern new Florence oil stove.

During the 19th Century, it was hard to get any more dramatic and obvious in storytelling about improvements in a consumer’s life than can be found in what collectors now refer to as: “The Before and After Trade Card.”


The Before and After Trade Card Book by Ben Crane
The Before and After Trade Card Book by Ben Crane

For the story of cards telling tales of consumer breakthroughs and transformations –and for an illustrated review of many classic examples of these ads– the best resource is Ben Crane’s 1995 book:

The Before and After Trade Card.


Ben Crane's book, The Before and After Trade Card

 Crane’s study includes thoughtful discussions and helpful illustrations of Metamorphic and folding trade cards, “See-Through” Hold-to-Light cards (HTL), Turnover cards, Optical Illusion cards, Heat Sensitive cards, Then and Now, and others.


Ben Crane's book, The Before and After Trade Card


Over 80 metamorphic trade cards are shown (both opened and closed) in Ben Crane’s essential 19th Century Victorian Advertising Trade Card Resource. 


Henrys Carbolic Salve 1880's Pimple Cure Folding Metamorphic Novelty Victorian Trade Card

Numerous other types of  “problem solved” cards are shown as well.

Buckingham Whisker Dye Before and After Metamorphic Victorian Advertising Trade Card
The makers of Buckingham’s Whisker Dye used the folding flap on this card to suggest the magical transformation a white-bearded “BEFORE” gentleman into an improved youthful version through the application of the bottled product shown on the “AFTER” shelf.

With and Without cards, Paneled (and unpaneled) cards, Moving and Mechanical cards, Upside-Down cards (ambigrams), and even Before, During and After cards showing a progression of changes are all illustrated and discussed in Ben’s book.


BEFORE, DURING, and AFTER trade card images on a beard color trade card.
This Buckingham Whisker Dye card illustrates a gradual transition over the course of use, from BEFORE to DURING, and then eventually arriving at the desired final AFTER state.

Some of the transformations illustrated in these cards seem odd by today’s standards.

For example, in Victorian times, being “large” was often a sign of prosperity and good eating.

Mercantile Hotel Dining Rooms, Breakfast & Supper, 23 South Tenth St., Philadelphia
From skinny to rotund in 4 weeks, thanks to the fine dining rooms at the Mercantile Hotel.

Philadelphia’s Mercantile Hotel catered to 1876 Centennial guests, but they also stayed around long enough after the exposition to develop a regular local clientele who could buy “First Class Meals” for 25 cents.  To suggest the quality and quantity of their meals, they issued a card showing a very thin man growing fat on their fare in a single month.


Before and After cards offer some of the most fascinating views of Victorian life and fantasies imaginable.  No wonder these clever and promising 19th Century ads were so popular in their day.

And no wonder they remain so popular yet today.


 Stove Card Before and After Link to Victorian Card Hub Article Archive Story


Ben Crane was a founding member of the Trade Card Collectors Association, and he contributed an outstanding overview article to the TCCA’s very first journal, ATCQ, Spring, 1994.

A reprint of Ben’s article can be found via the above link.

For more about Ben, and to tap into the wonderful resources of his huge website, click on:


Link to Ben Crane's website: The Trade Card Place.


More examples and discussions of the 19th Century Before and After Trade Card will be shared in future Victorian Card Hub blogs, but the link to Ben’s ATCQ article will provide researchers and collectors a very good introduction to these types and styles of storytelling cards.

Again, Ben’s article can be found in the Victorian Card Hub archive. 

Visit:     The Victorian Before and After Trade Card 

And, as always, all the BEST to you…  Good Collecting! — Dave Cheadle

Ann Neal writes:



My Favorite Card:

Wm. Ayres & Sons, Phila.

“I find it very hard to pick a favorite card
as there are so many truly terrific examples…
however, sometimes one gets a chance to combine interests.


I have had a love affair with horses my entire life (much to my hubby’s dismay) and as a result, I will seek out trade cards pertaining to equines.
These types of cards show the importance of the horse in transportation, commerce, farming, and even entertainment.
I not only like the 5/A Horse Blankets card because of the subject matter,
but also because it seems somewhat unusual.


With and Without Trade Card
“5/A Blankets WEAR Like This. / Imitations TEAR Like This.”
The reverse of this horse trade card
shows another colorful picture  (With / Without style)
touting the quality of the product instead of just verbiage.”

(The stylish 5/A blanket wears well.  The ugly imitation wears out… into rags.)

                                                                                               — Collector Ann Neal, New York

Victorian trade cards were often beautiful, clever, and informative

19th Century consumers gathered these irresistible advertising give-aways from wherever they could find them.  And those original Victorian collectors treasured their specimens of 19th Century printing and lithography for good reason.

In an age of mostly black and white photography and line-art publishing, lithographed cards came in breathtakingly vibrant colors.  

Advertising cards were informative, and not just about the latest innovations of the industrial age.  In addition to educating about new products, these cards incidentally informed about popular culture, teaching people in different regions about new trends and fads from across the country, if not from around the world.

Yes, they were far too fascinating and beautiful to throw away.  And even the blandest of these advertising cards were often clever, if not laugh-out-loud comical. 

But, oh… the color ones!

Lithography Explained Illustrated Production Liebig 6x Advertising Trade Cards
Artists at work in a lithographic printing shop, as depicted on a Liebig card from the Turn-of-the-Century. The portrait on the left shows a face after six passes through the presses, with a different color of ink layered onto the card by a different stone during each pass.

Young and old Victorians alike gathered these cards from wherever they could find them:  store counters, sales representatives, even packaged inside coffee tins and soap wrappers.  Card collections were then sorted, traded with friends, pasted into scrapbooks… even pinned up on the wall or tucked into mirrors and picture frames around the home.

At times, it got competitive, with collectors racing to see who could fill the most albums with the best cards in the shortest amount of time.

In fact, some 19th Century collectors were so aggressive in their collecting they were at times described as down-right “fiendish” in their enthusiasms.


Old Gentleman card fiend with a hand out to collect Victorian advertising trade cards.
“The Old Gent Fiend” as depicted in a “CARD FIENDS” set of cards showing men, women, boys and girls all trying to collect more than their fair share of the freebies.


With so much 19th century fascination and energy invested in collecting cards, it is not surprising that a few cards were printed… about cards being printed.

And because a picture is worth a thousand words, let’s see it: 


19th Century printing and lithography

as explained and illustrated by cards


Lithography Explained Illustrated Production Liebig 6x Advertising Trade Cards
Card number one in the Liebig set depicts an artist composing a card design as a watercolor painting. The second card in the set shows the limestone slabs being harvested from a quarry and cut to sizes for the stone press operations.

 Liebig issued an amazing 6-card set illustrating each of the phases involved in producing a 12-color lithographed card.  As chromolithography is explained in these card pictures and captions…  the depth of color begins to emerge as inks are applied to Liebig’s portrait!

Of course, some trade cards were inked in as few as one or two colors, and on the other end of the spectrum, Prang Lith. of Boston was known to have inked some prints in 20 colors or more.  But this Liebig set illustrates the process very well.

The scenes and captions of the six cards are as follows:  

1. The Artist Composes the Subject

             / Portrait – in 2 Colors (L’artiste composent le sujet.)
2. Extraction of the Lithographic Stones

             / Portrait – in 4 Colors (Extraction des pierres lithographiques.)
3. Lithographic Reproduction

             / Portrait – in 6 Colors (La reproduction lithographique.)
4. Creating the Proofs

            / Portrait – in 8 Colors (Tirage des epreuves d’essal.)
5. Final Run. Rotary Press

            / Portrait – in 10 Colors (Tirage definitif. Presse rotative.)
6. Cutting and Packing

            / Portrait – in 12 Colors (Decoupage et emballage.)


Before examining the remaining four of the Liebig cards, it might be helpful to read what one American firm said about the process of color printing.

The production of lithographs was explained in detail on a card issued by

Burdick & Son, lithographers and manufacturers of metal and tin work, Albany, NY.


Burdick & Son Lithographers Metal Advertising Cards 2x Factory View Tin Printers
This Burdick & Son factory view card advertises their ability to produce “Decorated” tin boxes and tin signs. The reverse of this metal card explains the process of printing lithographs on tin.

 Burdick was noted for, among other things, manufacturing custom tin boxes with beautifully lithographed images. One of the cards they distributed at expositions features a factory view of their Albany, New York, facility.  This card is itself a showcase of their work: the card is composed of tin, rather than cardboard.

It is a card designed to demonstrate to potential clients the quality of the 19th Century printing and lithography work they could expect when placing orders for “Decorated Tin Boxes” and lithographed signs, etc.


The reverse of the tin Burdick card answers the Question: “How do you decorate the Tin Boxes, Signs, etc.” The card’s text goes on to explain the chromolithograph printing process in helpful detail.


The metal Burdick card describes on back the work that is done with the lithographic stones, the inking process, and other aspects of 19th Century printing and lithography image production.

Back to the Liebig set, which illustrates these steps in 19th Century printing and lithography in brilliant color stages:


Card 4 of the Liebig set shows printers working with their prepared stone slabs.

Note vertical rows of the stones beneath the presses, with additional stones lined up on distant shelves.

 By the final two cards of the Liebig set, the portrait of the company’s founder grows rich and realistic in subtle hues.  By the time of the application of the 12th color of ink, the skin is lifelike indeed.

Only one color of ink is applied at each pass through the press, so to get the final portrait image, this card was imprinted 12 times!

And again, each imprint required a distinct stone.


Lithography Explained Illustrated Production Liebig 6x Advertising Trade Cards


More information about 19th Century printing and lithography will be shared in future posts, but this should give folks a pretty good overview.

A permanent (and expanded) version of this blog post will be posted into the Victorian Card Hub archive. 

Visit:    19th Century Printing and Lithography

As always, all the BEST to you, and Good Collecting! — Dave Cheadle

Spoiler Alert:

Pawn Stars Rick Harrison and trade card collector Dave Cheadle.
Dave Cheadle negotiates over patent medicine calendar cards with Las Vegas celebrity Pawn Star, Rick Harrison.

Pawn Stars – –

Season 15, Episode 25

1900 Calendar Cards Sell on History Channel for $950… Wholesale Price.

Pawn Stars – – Season 15, Episode 25

For those who caught Pawn Stars on April 23, 2018, a set of Antikamnia calendar cards was purchased by History Channel celebrity proprietor Rick Harrison for just shy of $1,ooo.

Rick commented something to the effect of:

      “I’ve now got the material for the next Stephen King novel.”

Rick indicated that he would frame the set, and then hang it on the Las Vegas Gold & Silver Pawn Shop wall.  With a hefty mark-up on the price, of course.

Immediately after the show’s airing, there was a “run” on Antikanmia calendar cards on ebay, with a half dozen or so individual card pages promptly selling for $160 to $275 each.


Dave and Rick close their Antikamnia Calendar $950 deal at the Las Vegas Gold & Silver Pawn Shop… with a handshake… and a nearly $1,000 cash payout.

Apparently, the producers of the show figured those creepy Pawn Stars Antikamnia skeleton images would provide a brand of haunting humor most folks would find hard to resist. 

Same as over a century ago.  

Enough said.  Good Collecting, as always!  – Dave Cheadle

Antikanmia Skeleton Calendar Card from History Channel Pawn Stars
One Antikanmia Skeleton Calendar Card from the turn-of-the-century series. This 1899 example features a Dutch-German Beer Drinker, complete with his stein and Meerschaum pipe.

More about Patent Medicine Cards on History Channel:

Pawn Stars, Monday Night, April 23, 2018

People have been asking about these fabulous “Dark Humor” Antikamnia calendar cards.

Some are actually hilarious or even cute, while others are definitely creepy.

For more “background information,” read the reverse note from the last card they issued:

Artist Louis Crusius water-color Skeleton Sketches Antikamnia Calendar Card
“Dear Doctor… As a Souvenir if the Holiday Season we present you with our 1901 Antikamnia Calendar, another, and the last of the now famous “Skeleton Sketches,” the original water-colors of which were painted by the late Louis Crusius, A.M., M.D….”

The Antikamnia Chemical Company hired local physician-artist Louis Crucius to do the art for the calendars.  Crucius was also a pharmacist, and did the “Skeleton Sketches” drawings while working at a pharmacy. Five years worth of the calendars – 1897, 1898, 1899, 1900, and 1901 – were printed.


Antikamnia’s analgesic compound, which was never patented, was marketed as a ‘proudly ethical drug’ and used to treat headaches, fever, stomach aches, nervousness, insomnia and ‘the blues’. 

They claimed their cure was a new synthetic coal-tar derivative, but it contained almost 50% acetanilid, which they mixed with codeine or quinine.  Or even Heroin!

The toxic effects of acetanilid were exposed in a 1907 California State Journal of Medicine article, ‘Poisoning by Antikamnia’, and the company was prosecuted by the government in 1914 for violating the disclosure terms of the Food and Drug Act of 1906.


Antikamnia Calendar Card, Medical School Classroom Scene, circa 1900.
Turn-of-the-Century med student slumps in class as his professor asks him about a victim’s deadly wounds… and this poor skeleton’s demise.

Skulls, Headache Pains,

Acetanilid… and Tylenol


Nobel Prize-winning biochemist Julius Axelrod discovered that the primary metabolic product of acetanlilide is a compound called paracetamol.

Of course, you may know paracetamol by its other chemical name, para-acetylaminophenol … or Tylenol.

To learn more via national television, watch the Season 15 Episode 25 History Channel show about Antikamnia skeleton calendar on Pawn Stars, April 23.

All the BEST to you, and as always,  Good Collecting! — Dave Cheadle


Pharmacist Skeleton Drug Store

Dave Cheadle to appear on History Channel:

Pawn Stars, Monday Night, April 23, 2018

Growing up on a farm in rural western Michigan, I used to go around digging bottles from old country dumps.

With a little scrubbing, those “dump” bottles sparkled up pretty nice, and I started seriously collecting medicine bottles for the shelves and window sills around our 1800’s farm house. 

There were six of us kids living under one roof, and eventually my little brother and youngest sister started coming along to assist with a shovel, and then to help with the washing when we got home (for a nickle per bottle).  Even my dad got pulled in, and after a hard day he’d sometimes join in a local dig.

Mom, not so much.  But she liked them in the window just fine.

As my collection grew, I started selling duplicates at flea markets… then setting up sales tables at antique shows and bottle swaps around the Midwest.

From antique bottles, I transitioned into collecting patent medicine advertising of the sort featured at the top of this blog post.  I found the added information on these ads to be very helpful when I was giving a sales pitch and trying to make a bottle sale. 

And then I started really falling in love with the cards, signs and almanacs themselves.

From Glass to Paper

Over time, my collection of 19th century patent medicine advertising items expanded into other areas such as pre-prohibition beer and whiskey cards, soap ads, and agricultural farm equipment folders. 

By the time I was teaching high school History and English in my 20’s, I was collecting Victorian lithographed cards of everything from men’s top hats to State Fair horse races.


H. Clausen and Son Brewing Company, Phoenix Bottle Co., New York City, NY
Pre-Prohibtion beer, wine and liquor advertising cards are very popular among collectors. Antique bottle collectors compete with card collectors and local historians, all of whom have their reasons for wanting good examples of these often wonderful cards.

In the 1980’s I began selling illustrated articles to magazines like Bottles & Extras and Sports Collectors Digest.  I would specifically look for Victorian Advertising Trade Cards to illustrate the specific themes I was researching and writing about, feeling like I could justify buying whatever I needed for the sake of “historical preservation” … and I rationalized that my published documentation of these artifacts would serve as a valuable legacy to future generations.

This sounded pretty convincing to me, but my wife didn’t always see it that way 😉

By the 1990’s when the trade card collecting hobby was really taking off, I had published dozens of articles in everything from Victorian Decorating and Lifestyle to a cowboy history magazine. 

That’s when Russ Mascieri reached out to me to join him in launching a new collectors’ association for card folks.  Russ was the proprietor of the hugely successful Victorian Images trade card auctions, and he figured together we could put out a journal to serve the card collecting community.  More on that another time, but we had a good run, and we saw the hobby flourish during those years.

After the Trade Card Collectors Association closed down in 2002, I shifted my focus somewhat away from writing about cards and social history, and more towards selling my duplicates on ebay.

My kids were growing up, and I had to pay some bills.


Dave Cheadle making his pitch to Pawn Stars celebrity Rick Harrison.
Dave Cheadle making his pitch to Pawn Stars celebrity Rick Harrison. The episode with Dave offering Rick a complete Antikamnia calendar airs on April 23: Season 15, Episode 25.

From Paper to the Web

                  … and to Television

Fast forward to April, 2018.

The bug to write again about cards, and to try to bring the card collecting community together again, motivated me to search for some sort of cost-effective way to get things rolling.

Everybody kept telling me I should write a blog.

A busy blog starts showing up on search engines, and traffic increases.  Linked to a website, this venue might get some traction.

By April 15th, we’d launched the framework for the Victorian Card HUB, and folks started signing up to subscribe to the blog and newsletter.  The new HUB website was getting hits, but far fewer subscribers than I’d hoped.

And the first newsletter experiment was still in the works, but I could not find an angle.

Suddenly, I discovered that I’d be appearing on Pawn Stars the next week.


Back in October, I’d filmed a couple episodes with Rick in Las Vegas, and in one of those shows I’d given him a chance to purchase one of my complete Antikamnia skeleton calendars.

I’ve not yet seen the episode, but it was pretty interesting to film.  I have no idea how the show will be edited, but Rick and I got around to shooting the breeze about Victorian lithographs, and about patent medicines, and a bit about Victorian culture and history.

Those are three of my running passions… and perhaps yours as well?

Hence, this story… and our first HUB newsletter and mailing!


Mrs Potts Sad Iron Enterprise School Teacher Skeleton old Advertising Trade Card
Skeletons appear in a good number of advertising trade card images, but sometimes only incidentally, as in this schoolroom scene issued for Enterprise Manufacturing in the 1800’s. Note how the teacher conducts a Q and A with the young ladies of the class, confirming them in their consumer knowledge of the merits of Mrs. Potts’ Sad Irons.

I’m not quite as egotistical as this blog might seem from all of my rambling about myself and the show on April 23.


But I AM looking for a way to generate more steam for the HUB. 

For the HUB to flourish, we need hundreds more folks to visit the site.  To bookmark the HOME page.  And to subscribe to the blog newsletters.

Lots of folks watch Pawn Stars.  Millions of them, from what I hear.  (I don’t get cable, so I have to go to a buddy’s house to watch the History Channel.)  Anyway, I’m hoping to leverage the upcoming show.  Maybe you’d be willing to help?

Please feel free to forward this email to as many folks as you think might get a kick out seeing some really cool ephemera on national television.  Tell them how you collect old cards like this, and that you’re not crazy… this stuff can actually be VALUABLE and HISTORICALLY IMPORTANT !

Brag a little… and tell them about one of your really cool cards.

Tell them that Antikamnia wasn’t the only patent medicine firm to issue skeleton cards.  Let them know there are a handful of other “creepy” cards in the genre, including this classic:


A Hunt's Remedy Trade Card showing the Grim Reaper and Death Skeleton beaten back by a man swinging a cure bottle.
Hunt’s Remedy Trade Card: Not a “rare” card, but pretty hard to come by because of the huge demand. This classic card depicts a man using a cure bottle to beat back the Grim Reaper.  This Death Skeleton image was adapted by Dick Sheaff (a design artist and a trade card collector himself) for a United States postage stamp. More on that another time.

Did I mention that you could use the April 23rd Pawn Stars show as an opportunity to brag about

one of YOUR  favorite cards?


NOTE:  if  you or any of your interested family or friends miss the premier of the Antikamnia card episode, you can probably catch a rerun later in May.  The History Channel often runs their “new” episodes a few more times during the next 30 days after a premier.  Plus, most folks can figure out how to pull an older episode up ON DEMAND, or by using their computer.  My episode is S15, E25, the one titled:  “Highly Explosive Pawns.”

I’m the guy at some point in the episode who makes Rick feel “dated” when I show him crazy skeleton images from the chemical company’s advertising calendar pages.


Rick Harrison from Pawn Stars considers buy an Antikamnis Skeleton Calendar of inerest to Advertising Trade Card Collectors.
Rick Harrison is the shop owner and marketing genius behind the History Channel’s most popular show, Pawn Stars. On Monday, April 23, Rick will handle and discuss the purchase of a Victorian piece of great interest to most advertising trade card collectors. The episode is called: “Highly Explosive Pawn.” Watch for the segment on the Creepy Chemical Company Calendar.

 THANKS again for

Subscribing to the HUB

     … and please invite others!


Classic Antikamnia Skeleton Calendar Card, 1901 Drugstore Scene, apothecary jars, medicine tins, cure bottles and jars, etc.
Classic Antikamnia Skeleton Calendar Card from the same series Dave Cheadle offers to Rick Harrison on Pawn Stars.

The above image comes from the same series as the Antikamnia skeleton calendar on Pawn Stars.

Okay.  I really appreciate you help on getting out the word.

All the BEST to you, and Good Collecting! — Dave Cheadle

Cheryl Lewis writes:

My Favorite Card:

Anheuser-Busch Brew’g Ass’n

“I first saw this card in one of Dave’s books and it became a must have.
Besides being a beautiful card,
it is a reminder of a time when the American dream
was alive and achievable as evidenced by this great beer dynasty.”

                                                                                                                          — Collector Cheryl Lewis, Louisiana