One Woman’s Adventure with Victorian Trade Cards
Some Examples of Victorian Advertisements
My husband Jim passed away peacefully, here at home. He had been on home hospice care for more than nine months, and I had been his primary caregiver. I felt privileged to be with him, sharing the experience, when he took his final breath and slipped away. He had been stricken with a chronic, progressive, incurable disease a decade earlier, and I had happily signed up to be his primary caregiver. It was sometimes a harrowing journey, filling us both with fear, but there were good times, too. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
A few weeks after the memorial service, I began my own transition by taking a look at some of the things Jim had said for me to sell after he was gone. One of them was his grandmother’s old beat-up scrapbook, so I pulled it out of the drawer and discovered about 20 pages of Victorian trade cards, die cuts, calling cards, calendars, cigar and bottle labels and other items that Lizzie Lovejoy had carefully pasted there between 1875 and 1900.
It was in poor condition, with quite a few pages detached from the binding, others torn in half, some with stains and major rips. The covers were not attached to anything, not even each other. I decided to look on eBay and see if the cards would sell.
They would. So I set about salvaging what I could by carefully removing all that 130-year old paste or glue. The project took over my kitchen island completely, and took nearly two weeks, because I sorted all of them into categories and indexed them by company name. There were still quite a few that landed in the “Unidentified” pile.
I ended up with approximately 100 envelopes, most with more than one card. I’m not much of a mathematician, but I’m thinking that if each envelope-full sells for a measly five bucks …. well, you do the math. There are also a stack of oversized ones, like an 1875 calendar that measures about 10” tall, a shoebox-lid full of diecuts and some large wine bottle (?) labels.
I thought it would be fun to chronicle my discoveries as I begin to research these and put them up for auction. Sooooo, stay tuned!
It's hard to believe that two years have passed since my husband's death. Living as a widow is a whole new adventure for me, and as many widows will tell you, it just takes as long as it takes. Everybody's different in their approach to it, just as every writer has their own approach to their creative process.
Shortly after this Hub was originally published, my first item was put up for sale on eBay. It sold promptly, and I was thrilled. The second one was such an interesting card that it resulted in an article (Hub) about the building where the company was located, in downtown St. Louis Missouri in the 1880s. See the link below if you want to read it.
Several more of these delightful cards have sold, either on eBay or etsy, one or two selling for more than $30. Since I have a Store, I elected to have Fixed Price listings rather than auctions, because I did my homework and knew the approximate value of the item before I listed it.
Browse among the photos here to get an idea of how this project is going; I've put approximate selling prices on most of them. There are still quite a few on the shelf, so I'll check back in here when I have another update.