The Before and After Trade Card:

Florence Oil Stove frees a mother from sweltering heat
BEFORE she purchases a Florence Oil Stove, this mother swelters in the heat of her old woodburning stove;  AFTER her purchase, she has the energy to play with her children.  According to the implied promises of this advertiser, money CAN buy a mother happiness… as well as a joyful dance in a Happy Home!

Article (and Book) by Ben Crane


Most great business card images “tell a story” of a good life made possible by the purchase of the advertised product.

But it’s hard to get any more dramatic and obvious than the stories told by “The Before and After Trade Card.”

Ben Crane’s classic book, The Before and After Trade Card, tells the story of these cards that tell THOSE stories!

The Before and After Trade Card Book by Ben Crane


Back in the early 1990’s, Ben Crane was one of the founding members of the Trade Card Collectors Association.

He made a wonderful contribution to our very first journal, Spring, 1994:  Volume 1, Number 1:

      Before and After Trade Cards, Types and Styles, by Ben Crane.

A year or so later, the Ephemera Society of America published Ben’s book:  The Before and After Trade Card.

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

Below, we reproduce Ben’s article from the TCCA’s very first journal.  Enjoy!

Before and After and Metamorphic Novelty Trade Cards for sale on ebay

Some of the “Before & After” cards illustrated in this article may be available for purchase.

Click on any card to see if that or a similar card is currently available.

Coconut folding metamorphic Victorian Advertising Trade Card.

Click on any of the card images or reproduced pages to see what may be listed on ebay at this time.

Before and After and Metamorphic Novelty Trade Cards for sale on ebay

To view examples of B & A cards and Metamorphic Novelty cards,

as well as mechanical cards and “With & Without” cards for sale, click on any of the linked images.

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

With / Without, With & Without, Folding Metamorphic Advertising Cards for sale on ebay


Upside Down Ambigram Card of Kids vs Old Men with Beards.
This “Upside Down” (Ambigram) card contrasts young boys and girls with bearded old men: “When you are young… This Side Shows Children’s Faces” vs. “When you are old… This Side Shows the Old Faces.”
Uncle Sam Hold-to-the-Light card.
This classic patriotic HTL card was issued by the Everett Piano Co. circa 1893. The front image features a spectacular bird’s eye view of the Chicago Worlds Fair Columbian Exposition fairgrounds, with Uncle Sam standing on White Fleet ships. When held to light, the ad from the back shows through, with Uncle Sam now holding an Everett Piano in his right hand.

With / Without, With & Without, Folding Metamorphic Advertising Cards for sale on ebay

A selection of Before and After Advertising Cards is available, as well as other novelty cards including:

Metamorphic Folding Cards, Hold-to-the-Light (HTL), Mechanical Trade Cards, etc. 

To see a nice selection of such novelty cards currently on ebay, click this trade card image:

Old Style vs. New Style, Before and After card for Celluloid Corsets with Chinese Laundry
We close with this classic “Old Style” vs “New Style” comparison card featuring success and failure at a Chinese laundry based upon which product was used.