A shareable reminder of that shop in Troy

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Because... well, who knows. But you know this would have gotten "likes" on the Victorian Facebook.

Memes, sponsored content, Facebook link bait -- all this stuff might seem very modern. But it's probably not a stretch to say that people have pretty much always been into shareable images like this, it's just that now we are all collectively able to manufacture and distribute it at saturation levels.

We were thinking about that while browsing through old trade cards for shops in Troy from the late 19th century. The cards were sort of like modern business cards, but were a form of content unto themselves that people traded and collected.

Some are beautiful. Some are kind of funny. Some are just plain weird. Here's a few of them from Troy...

These trade cards are all from the Boston Public Library's excellent online collection of postcards and similar media on Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

S.B. Thing & Co.

Yep, S.B. Thing & Co. From what we can gather, it was a chain of shoe stores.

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S.D. Sweet

This card was distributed by S.D. Sweet, which was the corner of Division and Fifth Street.

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Julius Saul

Dogs have always been shareable content.

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Charles H. Wilson

Charles H. Wilson was a shoe store on River Street. It distributed cards advertising the Edwin C. Burt line of shoes. A lot of the Burt cards in the collection depict cherubs.

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Frear's

There are a bunch of trade cards in the collection from Frear's, which of course was one of downtown Troy's major department stores. The Frear's cards ranged from lovely to bizarre.

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Comments

These are amazing and I love the comparison to modern-day memes and advertising.

What better way to advertise your product than a cherub in a shoe-shaped cart pulled by pigeons(?) or children being chased by a giant bee... these ideas would fit right in those weird Old Spice / Skittles ads.

I began collecting Troy merchant advertising cards in June of 2007 and really got hooked on them. I now have cards from 420+ different Troy merchants and probably 2,500 or so cards. May do a book on them.

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