Confectionery Trade Cards and Visual Culture of Russia at the Turn of XIX-XX Centuries.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 13 (Juridicum)
Distributed Paper
Natalia MIKHAYLOVA, European University at Saint Petersburg, Russia
Confectionery Trade Card is an important part of visual culture and everyday life of Russia at the turn of XIX-XX centuries. It was a kind of advertising strategy. An illustrated card was inserted into the box of chocolate. A person who collected a series of 12 cards (i.e. who bought 12 boxes of chocolate) got a prize from the factory. The picture on the card was connected with geography, ethnography, history and etc. The image tended to be narrative. There was also a text describing the image on the flip side of the card. It seemed to us possible to compare confectionery trade cards with a visual encyclopedia. The cards conveyed scientific knowledge to those who were not able to read. A census indicated that only about 20 percent of the population could be considered literate people. In fact, the number was larger. Nevertheless the visual presentation of scientific knowledge was very significant. The confectionery trade cards were part of this knowledge popularization strategy. The analysis of series of confectionery cards allows answering some important questions. Which scientific fields were reflected in that visual encyclopedia? Whose scientific point of view did they represent? Which stereotypes in scientific knowledge perception did they shape? This report is a case study. It deals with the analysis of certain series of confectionery trade cards. The conclusion allows determining the place of confectionery trade cards in the visual culture of Russia at the turn of XIX-XX centuries. The comparison with other examples of printed production of that time enables to distinguish certain features of the visual way of scientific knowledge popularization.