Monday, April 25, 2011

Enterprise roasted coffee Victorian trade card

This piece of ephemera, which was deep inside a box of loose ends picked up at an auction this past winter, is a card that's 2 and 1/4 inches wide by 3 and 7/16 inches deep. The girl in the foreground appears to be holding sticks of peppermint in both hands. Printed on the back of the card, in blue capital letters, is:


I think that Enterprise was a company located in Baltimore. In 1898, Enterprise Coffee Company of Baltimore received two U.S. patents for "roasted coffee" and one for "mixed tea".1

When I researched this entry, a couple other samples of these cards could be found when doing a search for "Enterprise Roasted Coffee" on eBay.2

Victorian trade cards, of which this is one, are a huge and popular subdivision within the world of ephemera. In the article "Advertising Trade Cards" on The Trade Card Place website, Burt Purmell writes:
With the opening of the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial, printed ephemera met color lithography head on. Until then, color was used sparingly in trade card production. Centennial Exhibitors put thousands of these bright little pasteboard salesmen into the hands of a product hungry public. Grocers handed them out for every imaginable product, from soap to soup! In some cases cards were put right into packaging. They set off a collecting craze and people saved the cards with a passion right into the 1890s. Many an evening was spent pasting them into ornately covered scrapbooks. Wise "admen" of the era knew that a product or service would seldom be forgotten once a collection was started.
I wouldn't even be able to scratch the surface on the history and accumulated information regarding Victorian trade cards here on Papergreat. So if your interest is piqued, I recommend that you surf elsewhere for more information. The Trade Card Place seems like a terrific place to start.

1. The article "Development of the green and roasted coffee business in the United States" has a list that indicates that "Enterprise Coffee Co." imported 1,811 bags of Brazil coffee to Baltimore in 1894.
2. And here's another eBay item that seems to seal the deal on Enterprise's Baltimore location. Check out the full item listing to see the interesting back of the card.

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