Articles About Trade Cards


by Ben Crane


The Chesapeake Bay, surrounded by Maryland and Virginia, was a bountiful source of oysters which until the mid-1800s were harvested only for local consumption. With the advent of canning, however, oysters could be preserved and shipped, and Baltimore, Maryland, became America's center of canning with over 100 packing houses by 1870. Hence, "Baltimore Oysters" became an almost generic term for oysters that were shipped all over the country.

Trade cards were used extensively to advertise the various brands of Baltimore Oysters, such as Arrow, Diamond, Square, Triangle, Oval, Big Gun, Champion and Horse Shoe, and many of their images were designed to appeal to manly tastes. Calvert Lith., Detroit, was a major producer of these cards in addition to their cards for tobacco, another manly product.

Shown below are thumbnail images of 41 oyster cards. Click on a thumbnail for a larger view, or click here to begin viewing the cards in slide show fashion.



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