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Business Trade Card Collection

Identifier: M/A 0306

Description of Contents

The Business Trade Card Collection contains hundreds of decorative cards from businesses in Minneapolis. The bulk of the collection dates from about 1880 to 1910.

Most of the cards have been digitized and are available in Minnesota Reflections: />


  • 1880 - 1970

Access Restrictions

The physical collection is available for use in Special Collections during the department’s open hours. Some trade cards from this collection are available in the Hennepin County Library Business Trade Cards in the Minnesota Digital Library.


Trade cards offered a more intimate method for businesses to advertise their services. Cards could be tucked into products, distributed in the store, or delivered by traveling salesmen. The fronts featured colorful and ornate designs, while the backs often advertised a specific product sold by the company.

Advances in chromolithography in the 1870s and 1880s allowed for very colorful cards, making it one of the most widespread advertising formats. Printers offered numerous stock designs, many of which left a blank area for companies to imprint or stamp their name and address. Because of this, different companies might use the same card to advertise different products. Businesses with larger advertising budgets were able to order custom designs.

The trade cards in this collection feature Minneapolis businesses and individuals.

Source: Harvard University Baker Library, The Art of American Advertising: Trade Cards. />


1.25 Linear Feet (3 boxes)

Language of Materials


Business Trade Card Collection
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Hennepin County Library Special Collections Repository

Minneapolis Central Library
300 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis MN 55401 U.S.A.