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The Trade Cards Of Old London

May 28, 2023
by the gentle author

Meet me on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral and we will spend an afternoon walking eastward together through the square mile to explore the wonders and the wickedness of the ancient City of London.

Click here to book for my next City of London walk on Sunday 4th June


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

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The Signs of Old London

4 Responses leave one →
  1. Bill Hall permalink
    May 28, 2023

    What a fascinating collection. I have the desire to go and visit many of these businesses!

  2. Lizebeth permalink
    May 28, 2023

    How beautiful these strictly commercial items are. Just reminds us how much art and culture has be lost in recent years.

  3. David Antscherl permalink
    May 28, 2023

    What a delightful collection! All at ‘Reasonable Rates’ and ‘Lowest Prices’! Note that the Royal Coat of Arms engraving for Richard Hand, Bunn Baker, is signed William Hogarth.

  4. Cherub permalink
    May 28, 2023

    To think nowadays people get something generic printed up online. These are works of art.

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