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Medical trade card collection

Call Number: Pam Coll 6

Scope and Contents

Trade cards were small and attractive paper cards used by companies to market their products. They were distributed by stores where the products were sold. Most are chromolithographs. The first series contains about a thousand trade cards produced by Liebig's Extract of Meat Company of Antwerp, Belgium. Co-founded and named after the organic chemist, Justus von Liebig, in 1865, the company manufactured jars of "meat extract" from cattle in Fray Bentos, Uruguay. The cards cover a wide range of subjects, among them geography, peoples of the world, costumes, customs, natural history, and the arts. They are organized alphabetically by subject. The second series contains cards primarily by American makers of patent medicines and other health products. They are arranged by company name or, if absent, by product name.


  • ca. 1872-1958
  • Majority of material found within 1885 - 1910


Language of Materials

Most of the Liebig's Extract of Meat Company trade cards are in French. Some Liebig cards are in German, Italian, Dutch, and English, in that order of frequency. Trade cards from other companies are mostly in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Yale does not own copyright. Almost all of the medical trade cards, except the few published in the 1950s, are in the public domain.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection is the gift of William H. Helfand. The Liebig's Extract of Meat cards were donated in 2013. The other medical trade cards were donated prior to 1994, with the exception of the cards on the life of Louis Pasteur, which were donated in 2013. A few cards relating to Connecticut patent medicines were purchased.


This collection is organized into two series: 1. Liebig's Extract of Meat Company. 2. Other medical trade cards.


2.5 Linear Feet (5 boxes)

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


This collection contains about a thousand chromolithograph advertising trade cards related to health, nutrition, and remedies, published from the late nineteenth to the early twentieth century. The majority of the trade cards were produced by the Liebig Extract of Meat Company, Antwerp, Brussels, founded in 1865. Other trade cards in the collection were distributed mostly by American patent medicine manufacturers.

Medical trade card collection
Under Revision
by Toby A. Appel
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Medical Historical Library, Cushing/Whitney Medical Library Repository

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