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Take Away Advertising: Anything Goes

Trade cards employed a direct marketing approach, and customers not only brought the cards home but often kept them as collectibles. Pharmacists usually issued their cards in a series to encourage repeat visits by customers inspired to enhance their trade card collections. The cards included the pharmacist’s name, location, and specialty and sometimes listed additional information about featured products.

Not constrained by truth in advertising concerns, advertisers could adopt an “anything goes” attitude in the claims made about their products and services. While pharmacists’ trade cards are usually modest in their declarations, patent medicine or nostrum manufacturers tended to make unsubstantiated and outrageous claims about the efficacy of their products.


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