Thursday, June 4, 2015

Victorian-era trade cards: mandolins and lutes

Woolston Spice Company, Toledo, Ohio
Music Weird previously featured Victorian-era trade cards of piano and organ companies. Today we have a gallery of trade cards that picture mandolins and lutes, which seem—from what I've seen—to be the most common stringed instruments to appear on trade cards. 

Many of the companies that used images of mandolins were not music companies. They sold unrelated goods and services and incorporated mandolins into fanciful images that were meant to catch the eye and evoke harmoniousness or nostalgia.

The trade cards themselves were merely printed advertisements, but the colorful artwork was intended to make people notice them and collect them, and perhaps even reward the issuing company with their business. 

Auburn Drug and Chemical Company, Auburn, Maine
Chas Counselman & Company, Chicago, Illinois
Barretts' Dye House, Boston, Massachusetts
Wesp, Lautz Brothers and Company, Buffalo, New York
The Broadway Tailor, Brooklyn, New York
Circa 1890, no advertising
Neptune Umbrella, Buffalo, New York
August Pollman, New York City, New York
A.M. Peel, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Kendall Mfg. Co., Providence, Rhode Island


  1. Great post Greg! As you note, trade card images often have nothing to do with the products advertised. You have given me another idea for index entries on my blog: More work! Oh, well....By the way, you might be particularly interested in page 93. The Shenanigans' take on the Lydia Pinkham song is great! (It's also on YouTube.)

  2. Hi Jeff,

    Thanks for your comment and for the link to your impressive blog. I'm familiar with the Shenanigans song from the Irish Rovers' version, "Lily the Pink," but I'd never heard the Shenanigans' version before.