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

2 thoughts on “Antikamnia Calendar on Pawn Stars

  1. Hello Dave,

    Congratulations on your new Blog, “Victorian Card Hub. ” I found your site while searching “Antikamnia Calendars.” I recently purchased the six card set of the 1899 Antikamnia Calendar.

    I have been a long time collector of Victorian trade cards and a past member of the Trade Card Collector’s Association.

    Looking forward to participating in your Blog.

    Ken Reis
    Member: Ephemera Society of America

  2. Ken, THANKS for your note! Glad you found your way to the HUB! The 1899 calendar card/pages are amazing… I’m glad you landed a complete set. Feel free to spread the word about the HUB. We’re still in the early stages, but we hope to make this a hopping place! All the BEST to you, and thank you for your contributions to the card collecting and ephemera world! – Dave

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