Sunday, July 25, 2010

The History of Artists Trading Cards

Art cards go by many names these days; Artist trading cards, fine art cards or ACEO cards. ACEO stands for Art Cards, Editions and Originals. In the 16th century, however, they were mostly portraits and they were always sold, not traded or given away as they were in the next few centuries. In the 16th century, fine art cards were the first wallet sized pictures. Usually, an artist who painted a large family portrait for a man would also paint a miniature painting of the same man's mistress. The mistress paintings were done in the nude. Artists also painted these small paintings to be used for exchange when people arranged marriages.
In the mid 1700's the French invented the idea to place advertising on these cards and not long afterward the English picked up on the idea and followed suit. These cards were bigger than todays standard of 2.5 x 3.5. This is because the European standard was based on the size o their playing cards which are larger than ours. The Impressionists traded fine art cards, too. They did so among themselves in order to study the styles and techniques of other artists. Sometimes they traded or sold their artists cards to pay for items of necessity like food or art supplies.
In 1887 "baseball" cards started to appear. These early cards very rare. They were not mass produced. From 1902 - 1935 baseball was in its golden years. Cards during this time were usually sold with bubble gum, chewing tobacco and Cracker Jacks. As they were marketed with different size products, baseball cards were different sizes. Baseball cards became standardized to a 2.5 x 3.5 format in the 1960's. This is the same size used in todays art trading cards.Today hand made artist trading cards are popular once again. They are fun to collect and trade.
In 1997 a project known as Art Trading Card (ATC) began. Most would credit reviving the ATC trading sessions in the modern era to M. Vänçi Stirnemann, who began trading sessions in Zurich, Switzerland. The idea behind this project was for artists to meet with one another and trade their art. ATCs were NOT to be sold! It is the ACEO that started initiating the buying of art cards.
Art Cards are made from many medias like water color, acrylics, collage, charcoal, pen and pencil or mixed media. Ebay has picked up on this trend and you can find fine art cards for sale there as well. There are also private dealers who auction these art cards and artists who sell them outside of Ebay.
To learn more about Art trading cards visit my next blog which will tell you more about collecting Artists Trading Cards Or visit my website

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