At first glance, you might think this is a Valentine. Nope! It’s an 1880s trade card. Trade cards were advertisements, with cute or funny images, that were hugely popular in the late 19th century. They were used to sell household products, medicines, tobacco, and lots of other stuff. People collected them and even pasted them into scrapbooks.
Often, the illustrations don’t seem to have anything to do with the product being sold, as in this case. It looks like a marriage proposal, but instead the young man is offering his sweetheart a box of Lavine’s Soap Powder. How romantic!
Lavine’s was a product made in Hartford at the Hartford Chemical Company, and we have lots of other Lavine’s trade cards in our Ephemera collection. Stop by our Research Center to view them! And if you’re interested in learning more about romance in the past, come to the “Love and Lust” Behind-the-Scenes tour on February 9.