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My card sir...

In the 1880's, the business card of a person offering retail goods or services was known as a Trade Card. Harvey's Trade Card promoted himself as a “Manufacturer of Duck Decoys,” while all the time he was ax chopping, draw shaving, hand carving and hand painting all the decoys in his Weedsport wood shop. It's ironic that his own ambition and pronouncement as a “manufacturer” would later result in the misnomer “Stevens Factory Decoys.”

There are only three Stevens Decoys Trade Cards known to exist, and one of them is lost.

The first Trade Card was found stapled to the bottom of the base stand to a taxidermic wood duck. The wood duck was a wedding gift from Harvey to his Lamphere cousin in 1885. The mount was later passed down to Albert Lamphere (left) as a gift from his uncle. In the late 1990's, the mount was donated to the Old Brutus Historical Society in Weedsport, NY. Unfortunately, somewhere in that time frame, the Trade Card had been removed from the base by the donor or lost.

The second Trade Card is part of the collection of the late Dr. Peter Muller of Atlanta, GA (prior provenance unknown).

The third Trade Card turned up on eBay in 2013 (no staple holes). It was found in an album filled with Victorian Trade Cards owned by the late Lillie Cook of Aurelius Station, N.Y. The Album measured 8 by 11 inches with 12 pages containing approximately 150 cards. Most of the cards were from Auburn, Utica, Seneca Falls and Weedsport, N.Y. All of the cards were from the 1880's. The cards were sold, one by one, to the highest eBay bidder. At $665, the Stevens Trade Card garnered the highest price of the collection and I happily paid it.

I learned a year later that the Old Brutus Historical Society in Weedsport was the eBay under bidder. I hope the one that was under the base of the mount turns up or I may have to bequest mine to their museum because at least one Harvey Stevens Trade Card needs to be in Weedsport, NY

My card sir...

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