Skip to content

The Trade Cards Of Old London

March 24, 2021
by the gentle author

Spring begins in the northern hemisphere this week. In celebration, we are having a SPRING SALE with all titles in the Spitalfields Life Bookshop at half price. Enter ‘SPRING’ at checkout to claim your discount.


Click here to visit the Spitalfields Life online bookshop


The Trade Cards of Old London are featured in THE GENTLE AUTHOR’S LONDON ALBUM which is included in the sale

Was your purse or wallet like mine, bulging with old trade cards? Did you always take a card from people handing them out in the street, just to be friendly? Did you pick up interesting cards in idle moments, intending to look at them later, and find them months afterwards in your pocket and wonder how they got there? So it has been for over three hundred years in London, since the beginning of the seventeenth century when trade cards began to be produced as the first advertising. Here is a selection of cards you might find, rummaging through a drawer in the eighteenth century.






Images courtesy Bishopsgate Institute

You might also like to take a look at

The Signs of Old London

Click here to order a copy at half price

3 Responses leave one →
  1. Jill Wilson permalink
    March 24, 2021

    These are brilliant and give a wonderful insight into the trades and concerns of previous Londoners (one wonders for instance what the ‘left off wiggs’ offered by the peruke seller were? Second hand wigs perhaps?)

    I also thoroughly recommend The Gentle Author’s London Album to any one who hasn’t got one yet. It is my favourite of all the Spitalfields Life publications as it is full of all the things one expects from the Gentle Author – brilliant writing, fabulous photos and lots of fascinating London ephemera like the trade cards above. And all beautifully produced of course!

    Ooh – and it makes a wonderful present for anyone interested in all things London.

  2. Christine Godman permalink
    March 24, 2021

    Love this post, have just ordered your book and look forward to reading it. Thank you.

  3. March 28, 2021

    A wonderful glimpse into the past. Thank you as always for sharing these gems with us

Leave a Reply

Note: Comments may be edited. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS