Salesman's Trade Card

Object Name: 
Salesman's Trade Card

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Object Name: 
Salesman's Trade Card
Accession Number: 
Overall L: 18.7 cm, W: 9.5 cm
Not on Display
about 1936
Web Description: 
The trade in European-made beads to Africa, Southeast Asia, and North America was a lucrative industry in the 19th and early 20th centuries. As that trade increased, many export businesses were created or adapted to sell a diverse range of beads to these far-off locations. One of the best-known of the 20thcentury firms was J. F. Sick & Co., which was founded in Germany around 1909. The main office was located in Hamburg, with branches in Venice and Gablonz. The company probably traded in many products, such as costume jewelry with beads, in order to keep profitability high. When the firm changed hands, it was renamed Handelsmaatschappij N.V. v.h. J. F. Sick & Co. and the head office was moved to Rotterdam. Then, in 1927, it was relocated to Amsterdam, solidifying the Dutch involvement with the firm. J. F. Sick left the company in 1928, and it became a wholly Dutch enterprise. In 1959, it was purchased by Fa. Hagemeyer & Co., Handelsmaatschappij N.V., another Dutch export company based in Amsterdam, and it finally closed in 1964. During the life of the firm, beads were purchased from the manufacturers, and offices were located in Nigeria, Ghana, and Cameroon to take orders from African middlemen or -women who then dispersed the beads to local markets. Trade or sample cards, produced from 1910 to 1958, were both an important marketing tool and an excellent source of documentation, showing the vast range of beads exported and reflecting the tastes of the local markets that purchased the beads. This sample card is from the period following the Dutch purchase of the company. It has the well-known “laughing girl” logo that was used after the firm changed hands. The card shows various sizes of round and oval beads that were available in the iconic chevron or star pattern. The range of beads displayed on these sample cards was immense. It included many of the thousands of millefiori patterns, along with Venetian fancy beads and imitation stone beads. These cards offer a glimpse of beadmaking of the past, for this form of colonial export quickly ended with the growing independence of many African nations and regions from the 1960s onward.
Lamb, Alastair, Former Collection
Primary Description: 
Salesman's Trade Card. White glass; cardboard. Showing five sizes of Chevron beads in two basic shapes; white cores. Trade card of J. F. Sick & Company.
Corning Museum of Glass 2013-05-18 through 2014-01-05
For 30,000 years, mankind has crafted beads from natural materials. With the discovery of glassmaking in the second millennium B.C., glass began to be used for this same purpose. Glass beads are universal. They have been produced throughout the 35 centuries of glass manufacturing, and by nearly every culture in the world. The glass beads and beaded objects on view in this exhibition are arranged thematically, comparing the manner in which diverse cultures have utilized beads, frequently for the same purposes, but sometimes for unique reasons. These themes explore how glass beads adorn the body and our possessions; how they convey messages about power and wealth, and identify the stages of human life; how they serve ritual purposes, as well as decorate clothing and objects used in rituals; and how they have been employed across the centuries as a means of exchange, both commercial and cultural. Through the centuries, beads have been made using a variety of processes. Understanding how beads were made has allowed scholars to follow the transmission of beads and beadmaking techniques across the globe. Across time and around the world, glass beads have become a common element of mankind. Through their manufacture and function, they are one of the strings that bind humanity together. “Life on a String” celebrates this common bond while also revealing the distinctiveness of different societies through their use of glass beads to celebrate their unique cultural heritage.
Glass Beads: Selections from The Corning Museum of Glass (2013) illustrated, pp. 64-65, no. 40; BIB# 134720
Create Jewelry Glass (2009) illustrated, p. 51; BIB# 108860
Beaded Splendor (1994) illustrated, p. 6, fig. 6; BIB# 35923