Culinary Trading Cards: A Victorian Favorite

Eleanor Rose

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Before collecting baseball cards became all the rage, our Victorian friends couldn’t get enough of culinary trading cards. These cards often came packaged with the products they advertised and quickly got pasted into treasured scrapbooks. The name culinary “trading cards” is thought to come from the phenomenon of middle- and upper-class Victorians exchanging these cards, which advertised baking powder, Heinz tomato soup, and everything else imaginable. All sorts of images graced these cards. The Victorians liked variety, so advertisers liberally borrowed from artists and poets. Even the face of Rembrandt graced a culinary trade card for Enterprise Baking Powder.

Culinary trade cards fell out of fashion when magazines started printing color advertisements. With their passing from favor, baseball cards soon became the Victorian collector’s new focus. Today, antique dealers often remove the cards from old scrapbooks and sell them – some for a hefty price.
 

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