Baseball Cards - BIRTH of TRADE CARDS

Before he started publishing baseball cards, L. Prang published other beautiful objects, like this calendar for the 1897 months of July, August and September. Online via the Library of Congress. Public Domain.


Louis Prang was born in the German town of Breslau (known today as Wroclaw, Poland) where his father taught him engraving and printing skills. In 1850, when Louis was twenty-six years old, he moved to America and settled in the Roxbury section of Boston.

Within six years, the recent German immigrant started his own business, employing his knowledge of lithography and printing to create (among other things) cards depicting scenes in Massachusetts, his adopted state.

By 1860, Prang was producing business advertisements using colored printing, and during the Civil War he created maps and battle drawings. As lithographic processes improved, skilled artists were able to create wonderful colored works such as these sea anemones from Ernst Haeckel’s 1904 Artforms of Nature.

At a time when people used a small card to introduce themselves - called a carte de visite - Prang began to mass-produce small trade cards to introduce, or advertise, products. Thread companies, such as Clark’s, were among the first businesses to use them.

Prang also created beautiful calendars and “scrapbook” cards, depicting scenes of nature and patriotic themes, which companies used to tout their wares and consumers collected and placed in albums.

It was just a matter of time before advertising cards, featuring heroes and baseball players, were coupled with tobacco products.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Jul 01, 2005

Updated Last Revision: Mar 12, 2016

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"BIRTH of TRADE CARDS" AwesomeStories.com. Jul 01, 2005. Jan 26, 2020.
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