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Trade card

Trade card

  • Place of origin:

    London (engraved)

  • Date:

    1738 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Copland, Henry (engraver)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Engraving, ink on paper

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 53, case 2

Object Type
This is a trade card, a form of self-publicity that was widely used by tradesmen during the 18th century. They were known as 'shopkeepers' bills'. They were generally etched, that is the design was drawn onto a coated metal plate with an etching needle and then etched into the plate by immersion in an acid bath. The plate was then coated with ink, wiped (so that only the ink in the grooves was retained) and then pressed onto a sheet of paper to transfer the image.

Henry Copland (died 1753) was trained to engrave in goldsmiths' workshops, and was therefore able to engrave on gold or silver objects as well as on metal printing plates. During the Rococo period there was a close relationship between the style of trade cards and also pattern books and decorative art objects, such as furniture and metalwork. Copland is seen as particularly influential in the development of a distinctly English Rococo style, and this trade card is one of the earliest examples. The form of the cartouche recurs in many trade cards and examples of engraved metalwork in the 1740s.

There are two forms of this trade card, which differ in the description of Benjamin Rackstrow's profession. The other card describes him as a 'Cabinet and Picture-frame maker'. Here Rackstrow is described as a sculptor of portrait busts, as well as a creator of plaster decoration for interiors and lead sculptures for gardens.

Physical description

Trade card

Place of Origin

London (engraved)


1738 (made)


Copland, Henry (engraver)

Materials and Techniques

Engraving, ink on paper

Marks and inscriptions

Lettered 'B. Rackstrow Figure-Maker, At Sr. Isaac Newton's Head, in Fleet Street London. Takes off Faces from the Life & forms them into Busts to an exact likeness, & with as little trouble as sitting to be Shav'd. makes all Sorts of Figures in Plaster with Ornaments for Doors, and Chimney pieces in ye neatest manner to represent either Marble, Stone, or Terracotta NB. He Llikewise Makes & Mends Leaden Figures, Vases, &c, for Gardens & Fountains. and Erects Grotto's'


Height: 17.3 cm paper, Width: 13.6 cm paper

Object history note

Engraved in London by Henry Copland (died in 1753)

Descriptive line

Trade card of Benjamin Rackstrow, figure maker

Labels and date

British Galleries:
This is the earliest known dated Rococo trade card. The dynamic frame, with its vigorous, scrolled surround, fluttering leaves and outcrops of rockwork or 'rocaille', is close to Hubert Gravelot's ornamental manner. The later work of this engraver, Henry Copland, is in a more agitated, spikey style. [27/03/2003]

Production Note

Dated 1738


Printing ink




Advertising; Trade cards; Black History; Ephemera; Shopping


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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