State Trading Cards

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Collecting advertising or “trade cards” became a popular hobby in the Victorian era, following the introduction and success of cigarette cards, which initially featured portraits of actresses and athletes and were used to stiffen the paper packages of cigarettes. Other companies soon followed suit with their own signature decorative trade cards, including the Arbuckle Brothers Coffee Company. The Arbuckle brothers founded their company in Pennsylvania after the Civil War, and innovated the industry by selling roasted coffee in one-pound packages. Their coffee was extremely popular in the western region of the country.

Arbuckle’s began issuing trade cards in collectible sets or series in the 1880s, after they moved their operation to Brooklyn, New York. One of the most popular series of trade cards produced by Arbuckle’s Coffee was a set of 50 cards, featuring maps of 40 states, nine territories (including Alaska), and the District of Columbia. In addition to a map, each card also includes the state or territory’s population, the area in square miles, and a representational landscape scene depicting commerce. For example, the North Dakota card [#37] shows scenes of sowing and reaping in a wheat field, and the Idaho card [#39] depicts an active salt well. Other cards feature scenes celebrating the wildlife of a state or territory. South Dakota’s card [#38] shows a vast herd of mule deer, and New Mexico’s card [#36] shows a hunting scene with a black bear, the official state animal. More than a century after they were produced, these richly illustrated, colorful cards remain highly collectible.


New Mexico

36. Arbuckle Bros. Coffee Co., New Mexico, 1889
Osher Map Library Collection
http://oshermaps.org/map/50427

State Map

More About New Mexico

Statehood: 1912
Fun Fact: New Mexico host’s the world’s championship for shovel racing.


North Dakota

37. Arbuckle Bros. Coffee Co., North Dakota, 1889
Osher Map Library Collection
http://oshermaps.org/map/50423

State Map

More About North Dakota

Statehood: 1889
Fun Fact: Bismarck, North Dakota holds the Guinness World Record for the most snow angels made simultaneously in one place.


South Dakota

38. Arbuckle Bros. Coffee Co., South Dakota, 1889
Osher Map Library Collection
http://oshermaps.org/map/50424

State Map

More About South Dakota

Statehood: 1889
Fun Fact: South Dakota hosts an annual Mashed Potato Wrestling event.


Idaho

39. Arbuckle Bros. Coffee Co., Idaho, 1889
Osher Map Library Collection
http://oshermaps.org/map/52074

State Map

More About Idaho

Statehood: 1890
Fun Fact: Idaho is home to the continent’s deepest river gorge, Hell’s Gorge, which is deeper than the Grand Canyon.


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