Introduction to the Trade Cards collection at Waddesdon Manor


In 1891, Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild acquired a collection of printed paper ephemera to do with commerce.  Most of the material came from the collection of his architect Gabriel Hippolyte Destailleur (1822–1893).  After the prints arrived at Waddesdon, they were rearranged and pasted into four leather-bound volumes and this is how they appear today. The volumes contain over 700 trade cards (early shop advertisements) and related items, mostly from France, but also from Germany and elsewhere on the continent. They date from the early seventeenth to early nineteenth centuries and are for suppliers as diverse as hat-makers, stationers, goldsmiths, print-sellers and confectioners. Together they offer a unique insight into the commercial and social world of the past.

In 2004 it was recognised that this little known collection which is rich in research possibilities, should be made available to a wider audience. This catalogue is the result. It was made possible through Leverhulme and British Academy funded research projects which was a joint venture between the University of Warwick and Waddesdon Manor.

The catalogue is designed to be used by anyone interested in ephemera. All cards have been transcribed in their original language and translated into English. Cataloguing and indexing has been detailed in the hope that the data will be a valuable resource for a wide range of students and scholars.