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Victorian Trade Cards

Vintage Antique Advertising Collectibles!

Your source for Vintage Antique Advertising Collectibles from Soup to Nuts.

The free calendar from local banks, the pen imprinted with an insurance agent's name and the Coca-Cola tray are familiar examples of useful items given away free to encourage a customer's trade.

It is big business today and even bigger in times past before there were television and radio commercials. Lavish illustrations and decorations, striking color lithography and often amusing advertising messages make these bits of trivia prime collectibles.

Some Vintage Antique collectibles are easy to find, for so many were made that they are likely to be found in almost any closet or drawer.

Other collectible advertising are rare and it is not unusual for sought after Coca Cola tray, pocket mirrors, folding knives etc. to command a higher price. To collectors a give away handed out with no charge and generally no requirements for purchase is distinguished from a premium which is offered only in return for a nominal payment of cash. Old advertising collectibles are generally more desirable than those of recent vintage. This is partly because they are rarer and of higher quality. Most old advertising collectibles are made of finer materials such as metals, mother of pearl, celluloid rather than modern plastic. They are usually more colorfully designed and decorated.

Vintage lithographed Calendar         Cracker Jack box Coca Cola Sign

Most collectors look for things made in the late 1800s through the Great Depression of the 1930s. However other collectors extend their interest to items from the 1940s and 1950s. One of the most popular collectible categories are items connected to the old fashion country store and soda fountains. Calendars and thermometers are two good examples. In the days before air conditioning hand fans were produced and given away in abundance. Hand fans were made made of paper, cardboard, straw and celluloid and like all advertising items were often decorated with pictures. Hand fans were given away by the carload to church groups, funeral parlors and fraternal organizations and carried home from social and sporting events.

The introduction of celluloid which looked like ivory and was the forerunner of modern plastics stimulated the production in huge quantities of small items with diverse uses. One item, the pin back button was appealing solely because it was a new kind of personal decoration and way of "getting a message out". With so many pin back buttons produced some people collect nothing else. The button made with an ingenious hoop spring that snapped into the back was a popular everything from food to major appliances.

The celluloid backed pocket mirrors, round, oval or rectangular in shape were made to advertise everything from patent medicines to political campaigns. Unlike buttons they are valued more for their condition and subject matter such as advertising celluloid measuring tapes and match safes.

In contrast to such items as pin back buttons, hand fans, match safes and calendars are the very practical, very handsome and much sought after brewery metal serving trays. The largest users of trays for advertising purposes have always been the beverage industries. Once again Coca Cola issued many wonderful advertising trays. The liquor industry was another big source of advertising trays. Companies like Anheuser-Busch, Miller Brewing Company, Coors Brewing Company and Pabst Brewing Company just to name a few made trays for use in bar, saloons, taverns and home use. Most of these old trays are round, oval, very ornate and desirable.

Customers were often moved to purchase and item with special give aways. The toys packaged for children in boxes of Cracker Jack are probably the most famous of these. In the early days Cracker Jack toys were generally produced in sets of trucks, puzzles, games, tops and comic strips characters. Cracker Jack toys first appeared about 1912. Savings banks were offered as early as 1910 and continued to be offered into the 1930s and 1940s. Children's booklets, many of them very nicely printed have also had a long history. Some were coloring books, rhymes, stories and fairy tales were given away in astronomical number.

Finding Vintage Antique Collectibles

Most collectibles can be found through antique dealers, auctions, flea markets, ads in collector journals etc. However most of these sources are selling on eBay. eBay is now our favorite source and a list of the different categories can be found below. All are links to other pages of Most Popular Collectibles At Auction where you learn more about the most popular collectibles and the worlds most famous auction place on the Internet.


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