Style and Sentiment: Victorian Advertising Cards

In the Victorian era, advertising cards exploded in popularity among American businesses and consumers alike. Companies capitalized on new printing technologies, using richly illustrated cards to build brand recognition and convey product information. A fresh and inexpensive method of direct advertising, these cards were distributed free of charge by retailers and snapped up as keepsakes by consumers. A new Special Collections exhibition in Champlain College’s Roger H. Perry Hall, on view from February 15 to June 15, 2016, will feature colorful Victorian advertising cards produced by and for Vermont businesses marketing baked goods, infant formula, breakfast cereal, patent medicine, musical instruments, stove pipe, hardware, and more, including:

S. Beach Advertising Card, Burlington, Vermont, c. 1900, Llewellyn Collection of Vermont History, 2010.1.677

S. Beach Advertising Card, Llewellyn Collection of Vermont History, 2010.1.677

Porter Manufacturing Company Advertising Card, Burlington, Vermont, c. 1870-1890, Local History Collection, 2016.1.1

Porter Manufacturing Company Trade Card, Champlain College Local History Collection, 2016.1.1

Rutland Stove Living Advertising Card, distributed by Peter Devereux, Burlington, Vermont, c. 1880-1900, Local History Collection, 2016.6.1

An accompanying permanent online exhibition, featuring even more cards from our collections, is available here.

– Erica Donnis, Special Collections Director