• An example of a trade card. Text reads: “A delicate compliment - Lady: ‘Would you recommend Day & Martin's Blacking?’ Shopwoman: ‘Certainly, madam. Nothing is so pleasing to the eye. You have only to look at your boot and you will always see your face in it.’ Courtesy of Boston Public Library via Digital Commonwealth.

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    A delicate compliment - Lady: "Would you recommend Day & Martin's Blacking?" Shopwoman: "Certainly, madam. Nothing is so pleasing to the eye. You have only to look at your boot and you will always see your face in it."
    • Date
    • 1870-1900
    • Description
    • Title from item. Date supplied by cataloger. Day & Martin.
    • Rights
    • No known copyright restrictions. No known restrictions on use.
    • Partner
    • Digital Commonwealth
    • Contributing Institution
    • Boston Public Library

  • "Stetson Healdarch shoe for you!" Courtesy of Weymouth Public Libraries, Tufts Library via Digital Commonwealth.

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    Stetson Healdarch shoe for you!
    • Date
    • 1874-1982
    • Description
    • Title from item. Date supplied by cataloger.
    • Rights
    • Rights status not evaluated. This work is licensed for use under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives License (CC BY-NC-ND).
    • Partner
    • Digital Commonwealth
    • Contributing Institution
    • Weymouth Public Libraries, Tufts Library

  • "The Stetson shoe." This card advertisement focuses on the heel and features a photograph of men affixing the heels in the Stetson factory. Courtesy of Weymouth Public Libraries, Tufts Library via Digital Commonwealth.

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    The Stetson shoe
    • Date
    • 1874-1982
    • Description
    • Title from item. Date supplied by cataloger.
    • Rights
    • Rights status not evaluated. This work is licensed for use under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives License (CC BY-NC-ND).
    • Partner
    • Digital Commonwealth
    • Contributing Institution
    • Weymouth Public Libraries, Tufts Library

  • "The Stetson healdarch pontoon." This photograph is from an advertisement for Stetson Shoes. Women were rarely allowed to appear in advertisements. The world "Healdarch" refers to Mr. Stanley Heald, president of Stetson Shoe Company, Inc., located in South Weymouth. Courtesy of Weymouth Public Libraries, Tufts Library via Digital Commonwealth.

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    The Stetson healdarch pontoon
    • Date
    • 1920-1929
    • Description
    • Title from item. Image caption: This photograph is from an advertisement for Stetson Shoes. Women were rarely allowed to appear in advertisements. The world "Healdarch" refers to Mr. Stanley Heald, president of Stetson Shoe Company, Inc., located in ... more
      Title from item. Image caption: This photograph is from an advertisement for Stetson Shoes. Women were rarely allowed to appear in advertisements. The world "Healdarch" refers to Mr. Stanley Heald, president of Stetson Shoe Company, Inc., located in South Weymouth. The word "Pontoon" may have referred to a style of shoe depicted in the ad. Date from item. Date on item: Exact date unknown ('20s). less
    • Rights
    • Rights status not evaluated. This work is licensed for use under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives License (CC BY-NC-ND).
    • Partner
    • Digital Commonwealth
    • Contributing Institution
    • Weymouth Public Libraries, Tufts Library

Prior to industrialization, hand-crafted shoes were more commonly made with a specific buyer in mind. With the onset of the nineteenth century, factories produced more shoes than there were designated purchasers. As such, a separate marketing and sales facet emerged from the shoemaking industry, targeting consumers for these new products. The sheer number of factories in Massachusetts created competition between businesses, with producers vying for the consumer’s eye and wallet.

In the Victorian era, “trade cards”advertising handouts bearing anything from a shoe company’s contact information to its latest style to a catchy jokewere distributed by businesses to their potential clients. Appropriately named, these cards were both representative of a “trade” and actively “traded” in social circles, further distributing a business’ outreach.

In the early twentieth century, catalogs became popular forms of advertising with their colorful visual narratives. Some companies such as Stetson even employed pontoons and musical bands to promote their shoe lines.