The history of trading cards goes back to 1840 when the German chocolate manufacturer Stollwerk printed pictures on the packing of his products. The victorious career of the cards began in 1872 when the Liebig company started to give away large format pictures cards (7 cm x 11 cm) with its extract of meat. The first one was a set of 16 cards showing the Liebig factory at Fray Bentos in Uruguay.
Liebig cards normally were issued in sets of six. Only in the beginning there were some sets of up to 24 different pictures. The sets were issued simultaneously in many countries, especially in Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, and England. But there were also Russian, Hungarian, Swedish, or Boemian editions. Liebig stopped producing trading cards in 1975. Recently new editions were issued in Italy.
Liebig issued the first set of Columbus cards in 1887. There were editions in Italy, France, Belgium, Germany, and England. The six cards in landscape format show
- Columbus explains his plan to the jury
- Mutiny of the crew
- First landfall
- Columbus reports to the king and the queen
- Departure for the next voyage
- Columbus in chains
Columbus as a motif was chosen on several occassions. There were two sets entitled "Christopher Columbus" (1887 and 1892) and one set "Discovery of America" (1942). All of the cards show important scenes of Columbus's live. Columbus was also shown on cards of other sets like "Famous sailors" or "Youth of famous Italians".
Below is a list of all the Liebig cards about Columbus. Moreover there are other sets and cards which are related to the discovery of America without showing Columbus. The numbers in the first column refer to the Sanguinetti catalogue, the numbers in brackets behind the year of issue show the number of countries in which the set was issued.
|No.||Title of set||Issued||Description|
|192||Christopher Columbus|| 1887 (5)|| Different scenes|
|339|| Christopher Columbus|| 1892 (7)|| Different scenes|
|1445|| Discovery of America|| 1942 (4)|| Different scenes|
|Single cards in sets|
|369|| Alphabet|| 1893 (7)|| Columbus representing the letter C|
|637|| Monuments of famous sailors|| 1900 (4)|| Columbus monument in Genoa|
|833|| Panama|| 1905 (5)|| Columbus monument in Panama City|
|1044|| Youth of famous Italians|| 1912 (5)|| Young Columbus sitting on a rock by the sea|
|1094|| Famous sailors|| 1914 (4)|| Columbus in sight of land|
|1202|| Sailing ships|| 1928 (3)|| The fleet of Columbus's first voyage|
|1258|| How to navigate|| 1932 (4)|| Columbus and the compass|
|1222|| Sights of Canada|| 1928 (3)|| John Cabot in Labrador|
|1380|| Important people in the|
history of South America
| 1938 (5)|| Amerigo Vespucci, Hernan Cortez, Francisco Pizarro|
|1478|| Famous Italian sailors|| 1949 (1)|| Sebastian Cabot, Giovanni da Verazzano (but not Columbus!)|
|1483|| The first discovery of America|| 1949 (2)|| Pre-columbian settlements in America|
Columbus was not limited to Liebig cards. Other companies also printed similar cards. But they are not as well documented as Liebig cards. I only want to pick out a set of stamp like cards from Tobler, a chocolate producer in Switzerland. This set of 12 pictures was issued in 1920 und shows famous explorers. The most remarkble thing on this card is the date of Columbus's birth. The year is 1447!
This date leads our attention back to another Liebig card. It's from the set "Youth of famous Italians", issued in 1912. It shows Columbus sitting on a rock by the sea. On this card the year of birth is given as 1435. So Columbus would have been 57 years old when he reached San Salvador. Today it is generally accepted that Columbus was born in 1451. But until the 1930s the year 1447 or even 1435 was the date which scientists figured out from the contradictious hints at Columbus's age.
Trading cards about Columbus are a surveyable field. At least when you confine yourself to only one set of every issue and don't try to get every set and every card from every country. And trading cards are quite cheap. The most expensive sets of Columbus cards, according to the Sanguinetti catalogue, are the English and the Spanish editions from 1892, both listed with 100 000 lire, while the Belgium set costs only 25 000 lire.
Source: Orlando and Oscar Sanguetti: Catalogo illustrato figurine e menù Liebig. IX edizione. Milano 1988
More trading cards | from my collection
An interesting site about trading cards is | www.germancards.com