Friday, October 4, 2013


Trade cards, a popular advertising medium passed on to shoppers by retailers in the 1870s through the 1890s, are a common ephemeral material found in the California Historical Society collections, but rarely do we see a trade card serial. In the above series a rough and tumble fight between two tom cats for the affections of a delightfully accessorized feline ends with the orange and black tabby broken and battered but his confidence fully intact. 
While arranging materials in our California business ephemera collection I first located numbers 1, 5, and 6 of this series in the file for F.H. Atwater, a store in Petaluma that sold a wide variety of goods. Sadly, I could only imagine what sort of ferocity was inflicted upon this smitten tabby by his romantic rival in the missing cards 2, 3 and 4. My curiosity was not appeased until I came upon the file for Hale Brothers & Company, a department store chain, also with a store in Petaluma, which included the cards 2, 3, and 4 from this series. Whether the serial is an early example of a partnership between the stores to cross-market or just a delightful coincidence where one collection filled the gaps of another, it is an example of the many surprises we come across in the CHS collections.

Jaime Henderson,

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