I knew it was a bookseller's trade card, but I couldn't make the curious connection to a platter of turkey and the Berlin Congress, whatever that was. And so I had to have the card. And then a history lesson.
For a quick introduction, I went to the Wikipedia page for Berlin Congress, which opens with this:
The Congress of Berlin (13 June - 13 July 1878) was a meeting of the European Great Powers' and the Ottoman Empire's leading statesmen in Berlin in 1878. In the wake of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78, the meeting's aim was to reorganize the countries of the Balkans.The New World Encyclopedia contributes this, which helps to understand Turkey on a platter:
Up until Berlin, Turkey had been viewed as a European power. Stripped of almost all European territory, it was no longer viewed as part of Europe."I'm not sure what all that had to do with a Philadelphia bookseller, but the cartoon on the trade card at least helped me date the card to 1878. I assume 1878 because of the timeliness of the event and because it wouldn't have relevance for later years. I have found other political cartoons about Turkey at the Berlin Congress, so I also assume the Berlin Congress was a big deal in the US to warrant a cartoon in local papers, not to mention a bookseller's trade card.
I know that Saunder's was in Philadelphia because of the address on the card. A quick consultation with a map shows the streets are consistent with the street address on the card.
What I'm curious about is if Saunder's printed a new batch of trade cards whenever world events seemed significant enough to warrant a new cartoon to help sell a few books.
That they needed fresh stock is evident by the dual-sided pleas for books. They purchased libraries and small collections and books they claimed their owners had no interest in. "You don't really want those old books, do you?"
I make one last assumption here that Saunder's enjoyed good sales (to support their buying habit) and that they enjoyed some longevity. But the scarcity of information on the firm makes it difficult to put together a decent bio on the company.
But if a picture is worth a thousand words, then maybe some of those words would describe the creativity Saunder's had for attracting customers and the fact that a sense of humor was part of the firm's culture. Today they would have gone broke printing new cards to keep up with all the political lampooning that's part of our culture.