This is one of my favorite buys of the year. It's a 19th Century Baseball themed trade card made by Tobin Lithographs in NY. This particular set is known as H804-23 Tobin "149" Series. It was made circa 1888 and is one of the rarer sets out there. Over the past several years I've only seen a handful of these on eBay, so I'm glad I was able to grab this one. Unfortunately, it has a brown stain through the middle, but it still presents fine.
Trade Cards are one of the more interesting hobbies to crop up in American history. It originally started in the late 1870's and thrived throughout the rest of the century. It became one of America's early fads and collecting crazes. They started out as business/ advertising cards given away to customers. The name of the establishment would be printed on the front with a simple design around the edges. Soon the designs became more ornate and customers started collecting them to put into scrapbooks. This started the age of Victorian scrapbooking in America.
The design and themes of the cards became supreme. Cards where as small as a modern business cards to as large as a piece of notebook paper. They came in every color in the rainbow. Printing companies where marketing special art work and themes to storefronts across the country. Flowers, landscapes, babies, children playing are the most common themes. Less common are politicians, buildings, Black Americana and sporting activities. Sporting activities include roller skating, tennis, curling, ice skating, horse racing and baseball, among others. It really is an early example of card collecting in America.
Today you can still find scrapbooks with hundreds of trade cards glued inside and they are still collected today.