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short History file

The Liebig Company

an extra ordinary view on social industrial history during 130 years

for the specific cards goto tradecards

Baron von Liebig invented a way to preserve the flavour of meat in the form of
an extract.   In the 1860's the Baron was known as a very active physist and was
invited to be a shareholder in a firm to produce this extract and transport the liquid (no
wheight of skin, bones nor meat !! ) in tons to Europe. The thought seemed very
lucrative and the company started in 1865.Probably,  only a few remaining emphemera
exists nowadays from thosefirst years.   I would like to find some more details on their
registration in Uruguay, the permission to build a factory, some shipcollectomania documents,
e.g.Real HistoryThe edition of their tradecards made it possible to list the history of
the Company !  First chromos, lithographic trade card sets are views of the plant in South America.The meat cuttery,
boiling facilities, drying, salting, loading and unloading. The first chromos cards made it clear
for their customers in Spain (Spanish editions) that they did a good job far away in
another continent.   The immense land, with 100.000nds of cows an hughe slaughtery
capacity were some arguments.  As they used both sides of each card, they mentioned
on the back how many cattle, how many tons of extract they transported, how many
medals they wonon international  expositions .... and how healthy their product was
!How real is that History ?   Already a few months later they proved how multinational
they allready were by editing their chromo's tradecards also in French, Italian and German.    Only a few months
later : weight in tonns increased to millions, they had won more medals and "diplomes d'honeur".I   s  this all
not just "advertising"  ?   They also mentioned on the back of their advertising cards (which
improved in collors and artistic quality) a lot of recommendations from doctors and
wel-know celibrities !    How far did they took dreams for reality we will probably never
know.  But ephemeral studies will  uncover detailed information !More HistoryIn the
meantime they expanded  headquarters  to Paris.The most famous artists worked for
their broadsides and trade cards sets.They made calendars, menucards, cookbooks
with delightfull lithographic collored illustrations.  They used advertising
techniqueswith the most extravagant novelties known in that time.  Mechanical cards,
looking-trough cards, rebuses and guess-cards.Who were those artist is still a question
which only will be answered by ephemirst who study, look and compare.First English
sets appeared in the period 1873-1878 and Americanalso around this time.  This is one
of the questions for which I ampersonaly very interested.  When began the American
period : what was edited when and how.  Who were the distributors for the product. 
Very important to me are the cards mentioning editors, also all foreign languages are
most important to study.Historic expansionEnd 1875 they edited their most  famous
sets in Bohemian, English, Flemisch, Frenc, German, Spanish and Italian.  Later on
folowed Danish, Russian and Belgian issues.   A strict policy was followed for the
protection of  the name of the Company.   Because the invention was called theLiebig-
procede, simmilar companies refered to this.  Of course they went to court several
times, won  and mentioned details on the back of their cards.   The card sets were only
produced for their product and althus more than 1900 sets (of 6 cards) were edited by
them.  Most of these were especialy produced by printers for the Liebig Company
anddon't exist for others Companies.It is a fantastic collection on plants, animals,
society worldwide, history, inventions, famous people, geography, arts and ...
nameanother subject and I'll show you a few sets on that topic.History or future Liebig
collectors are a realy very educated.  We read (instead of seeing television) the back of
the cards for information and stock it in our brain.  And  with this data,  an ephemeral
virus  comes with it :around the turn of the century people did not have radio nor TV.
And books were very expensive.   In that period LEMCO had another great idea. 
They now printed text with educational value on the backs.  So the ecncyclopedic
cardsytem began.A lot of collections which we find are not classified by the numbers of
the catalogue.  They were systematic stuck in books on a certainsubject : opera, music,
fish, states, habits, architectural, flowers, women ... call a topic it and I'll show  it to
you in the Liebig collection.   History :  a Mistery .... The Liebig company has never been
able to help the collector.  Although  a lot of catalogues were produced by private
collectors.  None was complete.  The first Liebig catalogue : 1903 by a German named
DRESER  wrote down similar experiences.  As a matter fact, Liebig  stopped editing
several times and made no archival records!  There are a few gaps of 4 years mostly because of wars between Germany and France, then 1914-1918,  The costs of producing
the tradecards were so immense,  that records of them would even make it
worse.  Even now with all new technology, it is a question wether it would be
profitable.The printing of lithographic stone-press cards is so labour-intensive that it
cannot be done without an enormous budget (Cfr : Coca Cola) When Liebig decided
to stop with trade cards they sold theirarchive in 1964 in Antwerp-Belgium, to
interested collectors in an auction.  The money was given to the Red Cross. In Italy
they continued until 1974.  The 6 last  sets appeared wearing the name of the
"overtaker" : Brooke Bond So we miss information on lots of cards.  All catalogues
differ from numbering and dating as far as concerns the first 25 sets.   From some sets
only a few cards are known.  And since those cards are in different collections : none is
complete.  Some cards are realy mysterious : we know how they look like ("alike" sets
from same printer) but they are stucked "somewhere".
·  I always travel around the world to find also other kind of  collections (real big ones !)

Thanks for your

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Please, if you have additional
information on the Company, or knowcollectors, clubs or a big collection, E- mail me
at :
·  all help is apreciated !
·  for the specific cards goto tradecards


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