This is a blog about music, photography, history, and culture.
These are photographs from my collection that tell a story about lost time and forgotten music.

Mike Brubaker
{ Click on the image to expand the photo }

Musical Trade Cards

26 October 2018

Darling I am Growing Old.

For Fine Teas, Coffees, and Spices
go to the
G. H. Coonrad & Co.
107 Dominick St.     Rome, N. Y.


Ah There !

Compliments of
Cluett & Sons,
265 River Street, Troy N. Y.
Pianos and Organs


When the Robins Nest Again.

Compliments of
Phil. P. Keil
Dealer in First Class
Pianos and Organs
McKeesport, PA


Not English You Know.

Emerson Piano Co.
146A Tremont Street,


We Lead But Never Follow.


Ready For Action.

A. C. Yates & Co.
Sixth & Chestnut Sts.
Best Made Clothing
in Philadelphia


Oh You Little Darling!

Grant & Besse,
One Low Price Clothiers
Large, New, Fall Stock
At Lowest Prices,     Hats & Caps,
Opp. Central Hotel,   Westfield, Mass.


Oh George Tell Him to Stop!

J. H. Schurtz
—Dealer in—
Staple and Fancy Dry Goods.
Ladies' and Gents' Furnishing Goods,
Notions, Worsteds, German Wool, &c.
418 Atlantic Avenue
Near Bond Street,     Brooklyn, N. Y.


Have I Caught Your Eye?

Madame McCabe's
Sanative Corsets.
First Premium, St. Louis, 1887

    A corset to be perfect must support and give grace of outline to the form without constraining it. There cannot be perfect health if the body has not perfect freedom of movement in every part, and the lungs and other organs are not free to perform their functions.
    In Madame McCabe's Sanative Corset, it will be found that the foregoing points have been carefully studied, and the result is a corset in which beauty of shape, perfect and equal support of the body, with absolute freedom of movement to the wearer, are all secured whether the wearer sits, stoops, or reclines, the posture can be assumed with perfect ease and without injury to the corset; in fact, unconstrained movement of the body in exercise, with perfect shape and graceful figure are secured.
    The lungs are free to expand to their fullest capacity, as the expanding back responds to every respiration. The importance of the latter feature is plain, and all physicians will emphasize and endorse it.
    Ladies, who wear this corset are profuse in their praise in that they have found a corset that will give a beautiful and elegant contour to the form without sacrificing either their health or comfort.

Our Agent .................... will be pleased to call and show samples.
Manufactured by the St. Louis Corset Company,
St. Louis, MO


The preceding colorful musical images are trade cards
advertising American businesses in operation
from between 1875 to 1895.
These humorous illustrations of musicians,
just a bit larger than a carte de viste photograph at 3" x 4.5",
were printed in France
and sold as fancy stock paper to American printers
who then added the custom information of their local business clients.
I have duplicates of some of the cards
with different stores printed on the back.
The bandsmen are the best clue to the French origin
as their uniforms are in the French military style.
Also the instrument held by the bandsman in
the Grant & Besse clothier card is an ophicleide,
an unusual French bass brass instrument
that use keys like a saxophone rather than valves to change pitch.

Though these advertisements gently satirize the fashions of Paris
they were intended as familiar caricatures of musicians
that the American public of the time could recognize.
The French artists had two important advantages
over early photographers
which was one, the ability to use color,
and two, cheaply reproduce the cartoons in very large quantity.
In the 19th century, trade cards like these
were produced in thousands of charming designs
and collecting them became a popular fad.

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
where the writing's on the wall.


smkelly8 said...

I love these music trading cards. How delightful!

I'm going on eBay to see if I can fine some.

Kathy said...

A delightful collection. A few of the sayings on the bottom of the cards didn't make much sense to me. I had never heard of that French brass instrument!

ScotSue said...

A wonderful collection of trade cards . I have not seen any like them before and I enjoyed reading your background information on their production. Many are great fun, but design wise, my favourite is the lovely blue and white card.

Barbara Rogers said...

Oh what lovely painted caricatures! The huge heads show a stylistic choice, which made them adorable. (It took bobble heads to finally replicate them). What I didn't understand was the photo of lines at perpendicular angles...with a dark place interspersed on each one. Is that a kind of musical notation? I've never seen it before.

Mike Brubaker said...

Barbara - Yes, it is odd. I don't recognize any musical notation, but it looks a bit like an abstract interpretation of piano keys or harp strings.

La Nightingail said...

Your musical trading cards are a hoot! What fun!!! As always, a most enjoyable post. :)

Molly's Canopy said...

Great selection of trade cards, their cartoon quality a bit different from your usual band and musician photos. I love that a tea company got into the act and used one of these -- perhaps assuming tea drinkers would be partial to high-brow music? Like Barb, I was also interested in the geometric design from the back of one of the cards, which appears quite contemporary. As for the corset ad -- it is good to see that health and breathability had become a selling point by the late 1800s, but nice that they were abandoned altogether by the early 1900s!


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