MCNY Blog: New York Stories

Iconic photos of a changing city, and commentary on our Collections & Exhibitions from the crew at MCNY.org

Selling the holidays

The holiday season brings with it a barrage of advertisements, on television, online, in your inbox, and printed in magazines and newspapers. The holidays are also a time for sending greetings, whether they be emailed, mailed, or sung. Mailed cards depicting festive scenes have long been a popular form of holiday greeting. The Museum’s Collection on Advertising includes numerous trade cards, which are a combination of the two – part greeting and part advertisement. Trade cards were a popular form of advertising during the late 19th century, when they were distributed by shop owners and salesmen, and included with customers’ orders. The cards often featured colorful graphics and humorous, sweet, and sometimes peculiar imagery.

Some of the trade cards in our collection were produced specifically for holiday advertising. The establishment proclaiming itself “Santa Claus Head-Quarters” was E.I. Horsman, an importer, exporter and manufacturer of dolls, toys, and games located on William Street in Lower Manhattan. Other establishments marketed their goods as suitable for the holidays, perhaps as gifts or as part of the holiday feast.

Santa Claus Head-Quarters. 1886. Museum of the City of New York. 43.425.10

Santa Claus Head-Quarters. 1886. Museum of the City of New York. 43.425.10

M.C. Miller. ca. 1880. Museum of the City of New York. 40.275.209

M.C. Miller. ca. 1880. Museum of the City of New York. 40.275.209

The Original Burns. ca. 1880. The Museum of the City of New York. 40.275.281

The Original Burns. ca. 1880. The Museum of the City of New York. 40.275.281

Lissauer & Sondheim. 1870-1900. Museum of the City of New York. F2012.99.230

Lissauer & Sondheim. 1870-1900. Museum of the City of New York. F2012.99.230

Many of the cards depict seasonal scenes, no matter what the advertised product was. Sledding and skating – and falling down while skating – are popular themes.

A.D. Matthews & Sons Dry Goods. 1884. Museum of the City of New York. F2012.99.256

A.D. Matthews & Sons Dry Goods. 1884. Museum of the City of New York. F2012.99.256

The Hamlet Garden. n.d. The Museum of the City of New York. F2012.99.558

The Hamlet Garden. n.d. The Museum of the City of New York. F2012.99.558

Rodgers & Co. 1875-1900. Museum of the City of New York. F2012.99.324

Rodgers & Co. 1875-1900. Museum of the City of New York. F2012.99.324

Roberts & Co., Clothiers. 1881. Museum of the City of New York. F2012.99.720

Roberts & Co., Clothiers. 1881. Museum of the City of New York. F2012.99.720

Marks A.F. Chair Co. ca. 1881. Museum of the City of New York. F2012.99.260

Marks A.F. Chair Co. ca. 1881. Museum of the City of New York. F2012.99.260

J & P Coats' Thread. 1884. Museum of the City of New York. X2012.98.17

J & P Coats’ Thread. 1884. Museum of the City of New York. X2012.98.17

Would it truly be the holiday season without a little over-indulgence? Debauchery abounds in the trade card imagery, especially that engaged in by children and animals.

P. Cox & Bro's. n.d. Museum of the City of New York. 43.234.29

P. Cox & Bro’s. n.d. Museum of the City of New York. 43.234.29

Johnson Bros. & Co. ca. 1880. Museum of the City of New York. 40.275.334

Johnson Bros. & Co. ca. 1880. Museum of the City of New York. 40.275.334

Henry Maillard Chocolates and Confections. 1875-1900. Museum of the City of New York. X2012.98.106

Henry Maillard Chocolates and Confections. 1875-1900. Museum of the City of New York. X2012.98.106

Dean's Patent Ardenter Mustard. 1880-1905. Museum of the City of New York. F2012.99.113

Dean’s Patent Ardenter Mustard. 1880-1905. Museum of the City of New York. F2012.99.113

To learn more about how advertisements have been used throughout New York City’s history check out our premier exhibition, New York at Its Core, which features a 19th century cigar box label and ca. 1855 sign for the Croton Brewery, among other objects from the Museum’s collections.

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This entry was posted on December 27, 2016 by in Manuscripts and Ephemera and tagged , , , , , , .

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