Cast From the Past: Fishing Tackle Trade Cards

Photo: Steve Woit

Antique trade cards for manufacturers and retailers of fishing tackle provide an interesting glimpse into the past. Some are extremely beautifully designed and have become very rare and collectible.

Photo: Steve Woit

The fishing tackle makers and retailers who transacted their business via mail order were willing to invest in elaborate and attractive art to appeal to buyers and to promote their brands. Some, like the Orvis Company, which pioneered the fly fishing mail order business in the late 1800s, printed catalogs, trade cards to drive sales.

Photo: Steve Woit

The iconic four-color trade card from Orvis remains one of the most appealing American examples, while the early British manufacturers and retailers also contributed some fine ephemera of interest to modern collectors.

Photo: Steve Woit
Photo: Steve Woit
Photo: Steve Woit

Dame Stoddard and Company and J.S. Trowbridge and Company, two early Boston-based fishing tackle retailers, printed some clever and sometimes humorous trade cards to send out to potential customers, sometimes with potential calling or meeting times inscribed.

Photo: Steve Woit

The early British fishing tackle trade cards are works of art, featuring ornate drawings and scrollwork.

Photo: Steve Woit

Couldn’t resist including one of the finest trade cards featuring a trout—although from a New York City fishmonger named Pritchard & Knoll.

Steve Woit is the author of “Fly Fishing Treasures: The World of Fly Fishers and Collecting”, a book featuring profiles of 30 experts and collectors and over 800 photographs of rare and collectible fly rods, reels, flies, books, and ephemera.

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