The Trade Card

The Trade Card is a non-tobacco item used by manufacturers to promote and advertise their products, in the same way that cigarette cards were. It is uncertain exactly when they were first produced, but in the U.S.A, non-collectable cards were issued by firms in the early 1800s. These were more akin to a latter day “business card”. It was not until the 1850s, when coloured and pictorial cards were issued to advertise and promote products that the Trade Card became a collectable item. Many beautiful lithographic cards were produced in this early era and they are very much sought after by collectors. By the 1870s the issues of Trade Cards became more prolific and it is from this era that more cards are seen.

Again, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact date of the first Australian Trade Card and it may be that the highly collectable and extremely rare “American Candy Co’s” - “Pure Caramels” Australian Rules football card, issued in 1891, is the earliest series. This confectionery firm was located in Fitzroy, a Melbourne suburb. To date only two subjects have been seen. 

Another early set was “Flags”, issued by F.H.Fauldings & Co. It featured testimonials of seven English cricketers who toured Australia with the 1894/5 Test team. Fauldings was an Adelaide based firm which manufactured medicinal toiletries, soaps and oils, using the distinctly Australian eucalyptus oil. During the 20th century a multitude of Australian businesses issued trade cards, with confectionery manufacturers such as Hoadleys, Allens, Sweetacres and Australian Licorice producing the majority of them. Again sporting themes dominated with the ever popular Aussie Rules football cards being the most numerous. Cricket issues ran a close second. 

Apart from sporting cards, almost every subject imaginable was covered by the Trade Card, making it the most diverse and interesting branch of cartophilly. In contrast to the Cigarette Card, which had its demise prior to the Second World War, the Trade Card is still alive and well. 

We all are aware of the long running “Birds of Australasia” series put out by Tuckfields Tea and I doubt if there is a kitchen drawer in Australia that has not got one or two of these informative and attractive cards floating about in it. These cards were first produced in the early 1960s and are still being inserted in that company’s packets of tea. Such is also the case with Sanitarium Health Foods, manufacturers of the well known Weetbix, who began issuing cards, with a wide range of subjects, in the early 1940s and continue to do so. 

The 1940s and 1950s saw the two breakfast food giants, Kornies and Weeties dominating the card scene. Kornies footballers were in production for a decade from 1948 to 1959. Four years later in 1963, we saw the start of four decades of Scanlens bubble-gum card issues, both football and cricket. In the mid 1990s, with the end of the Scanlens/Stimorol cards, the Trading Card came on the scene. These cards do not fit under the umbrella of the Trade Card, having been produced and marketed purely as a “collectable” with no connection whatsoever to any product, which of course is necessary for an item to be classified as a Trade Card.

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