Saturday, April 12, 2014

Object of the Day: A Trade Card for Lion Coffee

If you click on the image, maybe you'll see your face in a dish.
But, it's highly doubtful.  My guess is you'll see a larger version of the picture.  

In 1880, when a little girl turned eight, she was forced to look at her reflection in a dish which was partly hidden beneath a piece of bark and a rose.

Okay, I’m kidding.

This is, however, a solid example of an 1880s stock trade card. I say “solid” because there’s nothing extraordinary about it. The chromolithography is quite nice, the colors are vivid, the printing is excellent and the illustrator did a competent job. When I was sorting through that lot of card which I recently purchased (and, remember—I warned you—there are about two hundred more awaiting you), I came upon this one and said, “Oh, that’s pleasant.” And, that’s just what it is. Pleasant. There are no disproportionately large animals. There are no children wearing flowers as hats, there are no grotesque faces, nor vegetable-bodied ladies. It’s just a nice, pretty picture. It was meant to be that, and that’s what it is. And, I’m sure, that’s why it was selected from a catalog as an advertisement. It’s a nonthreatening image which is wholly representative of the tastes of the time (especially in America). It’s got the minty green and pink which was the rage in the North Eastern U.S. in the 1880s and, it’s a picture of an innocent child—they liked nothing better. Heck, it’s even got flowers and laciness and a lovely tactile quality from the fine embossing.

But, what does it sell? We can’t really tell from the front. Let’s see what the reverse says.

If you want a Handsome Picture Card of which this is a fair sample
     Buy a Package of 

It is composed of a
successful combination of 


 Is never sold in Bulk
      A Beautiful Picture Card
                    in every package. 

It is roasted with the greatest care but is not ground

Manufactured by the
                          TOLEDO OHIO 

Oh, I see. They blew their budget on the font. It’s certainly indicative of the era, but, still, a rather odd font choice, considering it was to be printed on an embossed card. And, again, I say, “How pleasant.”

Click to see the fonty goodness.

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