This advertisement from 1789 is in the form of a trade card. Trade cards became essential tools for retailers in the 18th century, used as a form of marketing to advertise services, goods and, importantly, location. They usually took the form of a single sheet or card, and used a combination of text and highly detailed and elaborately engraved graphic images. They were a relatively cheap form of advertising that grew in popularity owing to improvements in printing processes. As a cheaper alternative to newspaper advertisements, trade cards were handed out to potential customers in all manner of ways: at formal occasions such as balls and dinners; to existing customers to circulate among friends and family; or simply to passers-by in the street. As well as providing a window on the lavish goods on offer, or to advertise more mundane wares such as the cheese offered on this card, many trade cards also doubled up as receipts, with accounts and payment details often scribbled on the reverse.
Newspapers were full of advertisements for consumer goods and services during the Georgian period. They were taxed, such as this one from the 1790s for Wildman’s Bee and Honey Warehouse, with the cost passed back to the advertisers or to the readers through the cover price. Newspapers and the number of advertisements they carried nevertheless grew rapidly through the century. Advertisements included those for material goods such as tea and coffee, furniture, books and pamphlets, plus the usual spread of quack medical remedies. The explosion of new titles fed the boom in print marketing. In London alone, the total number of newspapers published rose from around eight titles in the 1750s (including dailies and weeklies) to 35 by 1793. Advertising and retail thus prospered as a direct result of the growth in newsprint readership.