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Indianapolis business and trade cards

 Collection — Folder: S2540
Identifier: S2540

Scope and Contents

This collection contains business and trade cards ranging from 1887 to 1908 and undated from businesses, proprietors and local agents for out-of-town companies that engaged in commerce in Indianapolis, Indiana. The cards advertise a variety of businesses, including dry goods stores, clothing stores, shoe stores, florists, druggists, dentists, coffee dealers, and wagon and farm implement dealers. Some products advertised on the cards include the Esterly binder, Fleichmann & Co. yeast, the Gardenville feed and ensilage cutter, Hoover & Gamble Excelsior binders and binding twine, the Klinefelter & Dillman Company’s corn planters and check rowers, the Kauffman Buggy Company, shoes from Reed & Weaver of Rochester, New York, Waters’ improved tree pruner, Fleming’s Mikado Cologne, Crudoform rheumatic liniment, Dr. C. McLane’s Liver Pills, the Lautz Bros. & Co. Gloss Soap, D.S. Morgan & Co. Triumph binder and steel mower, Aeolian organs, Owen, Pixley & Co. clothing manufacturer, White sewing machines, and the Whitely steel mower and binder.


  • 1887-1908, undated

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Biographical / Historical

The trade card was a popular form of advertisement during the late 19th century and was used to advertise everything from soap to medicine to farm implements. With the invention of color lithography, mass production of color printed cards became an inexpensive way to reach consumers. The cards featured a variety of illustrations and reflected the popular culture of the time. By the turn of the century, businesses moved on to advertising in magazines and the use of trade cards dwindled and postcards became the new collectible.


O’Connor, John T. 1989. “The Art of the Trade.” Harvard Business Review 67 (4): 102. EBSCO Management Collection (8909250512). “Trade Cards.” History Detectives Special Investigations.


0.03 Cubic Feet (1 folder)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged alphabetically by name of business, proprietor, or local agent.

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as donations.


No further additions are expected.

Processing Information

Collection processing completed 2019/02/28 by Laura Eliason. EAD finding aid created 2019/02/28 by Laura Eliason.
Indianapolis business and trade cards
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

140 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204 U.S.A.