University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department


The University of Delaware Library is committed to collecting Delaware-related materials in all topics and formats. Special Collections holds the papers of many historically important Delaware families and individuals, with special emphasis on political figures. A large and growing collection of Delaware ephemera includes advertising materials from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day. The trade catalogs represent the large and the small of Delaware business, from the DuPont Company, Delaware's largest employer, to Lester Lovett's berry farm in rural Milford. They are truly documents of the state's history. The illustrations and maps show the area as it once was; the names of buyers and sellers are often those of families still active in the state; the products offered describe the lifestyle of Delawareans over time. The predominance of agricultural products is a reminder of the state's primarily rural character throughout its history.

Delaware Trade Cards

This group of trade cards, all of which advertise the wares of late-nineteenth-century Wilmington merchants, depict a varied group of businesses and products. Although merchants distributed such cards widely as a way of promoting their goods and services, they survive today in surprisingly small numbers.

Wawaset Nurseries, Wilmington, Del.
Edward Tatnall's Descriptive Catalogue of the Wawaset Nurseries, Wilmington, Delaware. Wilmington, Del.: [Edward Tatnall, ca. 1860]

The nursery was located at the intersection of Tatnall Street and Philadelphia Pike in Wilmington, just east of the Brandywine River.

Walton, Whann & Co.
The Great Fertilizer. Whann's Raw Bone Super-phosphate. Wilmington, Del.: The Company, [ca. 1870]

This late-nineteenth century poster includes a chromolithographed view of the Wilmington manufacturer's waterfront factory.

Great Northern and Southern Nursery, Wilmington, Del.
Price List of the Great Southern and Northern Nursery. Wilmington, Del.: Randolph Peters, 1877.

The nurseries were located on Hare's Corner Road, two miles from the Wilmington train station. Peters specialized in fruit trees, grapes, and berries.

M. F. Hayden.
Catalogue of Roses and Bedding Plants Grown at the Crystal Palace Rose Park: together with a list of cut flowers, floral designs and bouquets: offered for sale at the new floral store, no. 702 Market Street, Wilmington, Delaware. Wilmington, Del.: James & Webb Printing Co., 1884.

This catalog contains descriptions of hundreds of varieties of roses as well as advice on planting and arranging flowers.

Wilmington Dental Manufacturing Company.
Catalogue of Artificial Teeth and Condensed Price-list of Dental Materials, Instruments, Furniture, &c. Wilmington [Del.]: Press of The James & Webb Company, 1885.

This illustrated catalog of porcelain teeth moulds shows hundreds of configurations of artificial teeth dentists used to design dentures. The factory was located at 1010 King Street in Wilmington.

Pusey & Jones Co.
List of Spur, Bevel, Mitre Wheel, Pulley, Propeller Wheel, Grate Bar, and Other Patterns Belonging to the Pusey & Jones Company, Wilmington, Del. Wilmington, Del.: The Company, 1890.

The company, located at the foot of Poplar Street in Wilmington, was a steam engine and steamship builder.

Myer & Son Bridgeville Nurseries.
A Fruit-Growers' Catalogue of Fruit Trees for Profit. Bridgeville, Del.: The Company, 1901.

One of the many commercial fruit growers in southern Delaware, Myer sold grapes, berries, and peach and nut trees. The Company also owned a nursery in Bartow, Florida, which sold oranges, grapefruit, and kumquats.

Caleb Boggs & Son.
Twenty-Sixth Annual Catalogue: Small Fruit and Vegetable Plants. Everything in its Season. Cheswold, Del.: Caleb Boggs & Son, 1906.

Caleb Boggs' son, J. Caleb Boggs, born in 1909, served as a United States Senator from Delaware from 1961 to 1973.

Diamond State Nurseries, Milford, Del.
Lester Lovett's Berry Book. Milford, Del.: Lester Lovett, 1914.

A wide variety of berries and grapes is offered by this Southern Delaware nursery.

E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company.
Du Pont Products: Correct to May 15, 1918. Wilmington, Del.: The Company, 1918.

By 1918, Du Pont was producing a wide variety of products in addition to explosives and chemicals. This catalog focuses on paints and varnishes; Fabrikoid, a leather substitute; and Py-ra-lin, used to make cutlery, sporting goods, and decorative items.

Hercules Powder Company.
Hercules Explosives & Blasting Supplies. Wilmington, Del.: The Company, [1936]

The catalog is aimed at the mining, quarrying, construction, and farming industries.

Silverside Supply Company.
Catalog. Wilmington: The Company, 1945.

The company sold home repair, landscape materials, coal, and fuel oil. The results of the War were apparent in a notice to customers explaining that the store had problems the previous year with the coal shortage, labor problems, and had trouble getting replacement parts. The company also reminded its customers that the winter of 1945-46 would again bring rationing.

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Last modified: 04/07/05
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