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Trade card
  • Trade card
    Ridley, William, born 1764 - died 1838
  • Enlarge image

Trade card

  • Place of origin:

    London (probably, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1810 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Ridley, William, born 1764 - died 1838 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Stipple etching and engraving, ink on paper

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 118; The Wolfson Gallery, case 1

Object Type
This object is a trade card. A trade card was an advertisement, as well as a business card, which was often also used by the tradesman as a bill or receipt. The lettering on this card has been produced by a technique called engraving, whereby lines are cut into the surface of a flat piece of metal. The image has been achieved by stipple etching, where the tones of the print are rendered with dots and short flicks which are bitten into the metal plate with acid. In both cases the marks and lines on the plate are then filled with ink, which by the printing process is then transferred onto a sheet of paper.

Subjects Depicted
The trade card depicts Britannia, with helmet, spear, shield and lion. This image was aptly chosen for this trade card because William Coldwell was a manufacturer of Britannia metal goods. Britannia metal is silvery-white alloy of tin with antimony, copper and sometimes bismuth and zinc. It is very similar in appearance to pewter, but is harder. It was used widely for the manufacture of tableware. The large-scale manufacture of Britannia metal goods started around 1780 in England, with production centred mainly in Sheffield and Birmingham.

Britain was engaged in the Napoleonic War at the time this trade card was produced, so the patriotic image of Britannia would have been both familiar and popular.

Physical description

Trade card

Place of Origin

London (probably, made)


ca. 1810 (made)


Ridley, William, born 1764 - died 1838 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Stipple etching and engraving, ink on paper


Height: 8.5 cm, Width: 7.1 cm

Object history note

Etched and engraved by William Ridley (born in 1764, died in 1838), probably in London

Descriptive line

Trade card of William Coldwell of Sheffield

Labels and date

British Galleries:
This trade card displays the whole range of metal manufacture in Sheffield, including tools, cutlery, scissors, Sheffield plate, japanned wares and Britannia metal. For all but the last three he was probably a retailer only, selling goods produced by other workshops. [27/03/2003]


Printing ink




Prints; Trade cards; Advertising; Ephemera; Shopping


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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