Trade cards are the ancestors of trading cards. Some of the earliest prizes found in retail products were cigarette cards — trade cards advertising the product (not to be confused with trading cards) that were inserted into paper packs of cigarettes as stiffeners to protect the contents. Allen and Ginter in the U.S. in 1886, and British company W.D. & H.O. Wills in 1888, were the first tobacco companies to print advertisements. A couple years later, lithograph pictures on the cards with an encyclopedic variety of topics from nature to war to sports — subjects that appealed to men who smoked - began to surface as well. By 1900, there were thousands of tobacco card sets manufactured by 300 different companies. Children would stand outside of stores to ask customers who bought cigarettes for the promotional cards.
On this page we include antique, vintage, and modern non-sport trading cards. These may have been sold separately or included as premiums with gum, tobacco, or other goods.