Just as it is a diverse hub of activity today, Fulton Street in Downtown Brooklyn was once home to a score of lively businesses and factories. Long before that time, it was an Indian Path that lead to Hempstead Plains in Long Island. Fulton Street, like many other places in America, was named after the American Inventor and Engineer, Robert Fulton.
The proof of this active commercialism can be seen in a colorful and fine collection of advertisements, commonly known as Trading Cards. They were the grandaddy of the modern-day business cards. In my opinion these lovely cards have a lot more heart and appeal than their modern counterparts. Frankly, anything that is painstakingly designed, hand-drawn and crafted without the use of modern technology, tends to be. Like most advertisements in the past, companies relied heavily on dramatic and sweet art work, elegant fonts, and background embellishments to sell their products.
Half the time these masterpieces had little to do with the actual product. For example, in the trading card above, what does cute, chubby children and a terrier on a beach have to do with furniture, bedding, and stoves? Perhaps the advertisers were sending a subconscious message to consumers: Make sure your home is well furnished for when they come home after a long day of frolicking in the sand!
Either way, the trading cards were often pleasing to look at, and the mind-set and sensibilities of people in the 19th century were far different than ours.
Check out the full 245 card collection that has been digitally restored and showcased in the Brooklyn Public Library Databases.
The Fulton Street Trade Card Collection