Beautiful European trade cards.
Earlier trade cards and chromolithographs (we talk about chromos on the
Continent) from 19th Century and early 20th Century European companies
provide an even greater diversity of material. This is often of extremely
high quality reflecting the craftsmanship of the period and ideal material
for, in particular, the thematic collector.
At de very early stage the departement store "Bon Marché Paris) discovered the value of advertising, and began to issue series of cards. This trade cards which were produced en masse by printers where sold to different shops and manufactures who then printed their own advertising on the backs and/or on the front.
Trade cards were handed out as advertising souvenirs at all of the major
stores and products. Trade cards were also handed out by merchants or left
on sales counters free for taking.
Many sets of cards are, in effect, mini-encyclopaedias covering a multitude of themes. Some are interesting from an informational standpoint whilst others are simple attractive to look at. To someone with a strong collecting streak the sets offer neatly packaged (and, quite importantly, achievable) targets to obtain which themselves can be developed into one or more thematic collections. Moreover, Cartophily is a well-established and reasonably well documented hobby.