Trade card for William Dowling, optician and instrument maker, London, England, 1822-1830
Trade cards advertise businesses and their services. William Dowling was an English optician working in London from 1814 to 1830. He made spectacle frames from a variety of materials, including gold, horn, silver, tortoiseshell, and steel. Dowling’s clients were wealthy and could afford these luxury materials. He offered spectacles for ever type of wearer, including those experiencing long-sightedness, short-sightedness and those recovering from surgery. The trade card shows images of different types of spectacles. Like most other opticians of the time, Dowling also made telescopes and microscopes, which required highly ground lenses, a skill that spectacle makers had acquired and developed in the course of their day to day work.
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Glossary: trade card
Printed sheets, and later cards, bearing tradesmen's advertisements, often including an engraved illustration; produced from the 17th through the 19th century. Cards made later often included the name and address of a business concern and the name of its representative, and intended more for information than for advertising, use "business cards." For cards made later and distributed for advertisement, use "advertising cards," and for those made later and issued primarily to be collected, with or without advertisements on them, use "collecting cards."