Trade Life: Sporting Life and the Origins of the Trade Card


In the 1880s, The Sporting Life Publishing Company of Philadelphia, Pa., produced cards meant to advertise products and/or businesses. They caught on. The trade cards, as they became known, are identified by Jefferson Burdick in his American Card Catalog as sets H804-8A, 8B and 8C. All are rare and seldom found, but the 8C set is virtually impossible to find. There is little doubt the 8C set was short-lived. I’ve accounted for 11 total cards from a checklist of seven cards during a period of about 20 years. All cards from the three sets are pictured on these few pages,…

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