A way to take your mind off of things
Baseball cards began as a means of advertisement. In 1869, America was desperate to find something to lift its spirits following the Civil War. Photography was in its infancy and baseball was gaining in popularity. It was only logical that innovative businessmen would combine the two in an effort to attract more customers.
Peck & Snyder were the first company to mass-produce these cards. As a sporting goods retailer, they saw the cards as a way to advertise their merchandise. They used a 3-1/4” by 4- ½” piece of cardboard. On the front, they pasted a sepia-toned picture of the entire 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings team. On the back of the card, they printed advertisements for their company. These cards were handed out free of charge to their prospective customers. Early baseball fans used to paste the cards that they collected onto the pages of their scrapbooks. Other companies saw the success that Peck & Snyder were having and rapidly followed suit.
Tobacco companies entered the baseball card business in the mid 1880’s. The cards served a duel purpose. They advertised the tobacco companies and the stiff pieces of cardboard provided support for the delicate tobacco products. Goodwin and Company is considered to be the first tobacco company to distribute these cards on a national level. The cards advertised Goodwin and Company’s Old Judge and Gypsy Queen brands. These cards were smaller than the ones that Peck & Snyder produced. They were 1-1/2” by 2- ½”. The poses on these cards were staged. Baseball players would stand in front of an artificial backdrop with props and have their picture taken.