Antiquarian Auctions

Auction #79 ends in

Arbuckle & Co

Arbuckles' Illustrated Atlas of the Fifty Principle Nations of the World

Published: Arbuck Coffee Company, Pittsburgh, 1889

Edition: First

Current Bid: $0

Reserve: $550


Estimate: $675-800

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Rare atlas of a series of famous trade cards used to brand superior coffee in the USA. One of the first examples of miniature maps being used to brand consumer goods.

John and Charles Arbuckle were childhood immigrants from Scotland, who became partners in a Pittsburgh family grocery store. John was an entrepreneur who developed and patented an egg and sugar-coating that sealed the flavour of their mass-roasted coffee beans and that also acted as a clarifying agent during brewing. Arbuckles' Coffee Company sold its glazed, roasted coffee beans in convenient 1-pound (about 450g) packs that proved to be very popular.

In about 1889, the company introduced trade cards; one card accompanied each 1-lb. bag of coffee and other grocery products the company sold; the text on the other side of the card promoted the features and benefits of the products. A collection of Arbuckle signatures cut from the product packaging could be redeemed for items in demand, such as handkerchiefs, razors, scissors and even wedding rings!

A set of trade card maps was of 'Fifty Principal Nations of the World'; the cards also informed customers of the world that was becoming better known due to extensive travel and exploration.

The series of cards maps was re-issued in an atlas (this atlas), four cards to a page. Opposite the maps is a brief, but informative geography of each region. The atlases were mailed by the company on receipt of fifteen Arbuckle signatures (later reduced to ten) cut from 1-lb. packs of Ariosa Coffee, together with a 2¢ stamp and the sender's address.

This rare atlas comprises 12 pages of 4 cards each. It is in its original string binding and the front cover has been professionally restored. This is wonderful record of early branding before the word was coined in the history of marketing.


Roger Stewart. Branding and Nineteenth-Century Antique Miniature Atlases – The Portolan (Spring) 2019, 40 - 46.

Not in Tooley's Collectors Guide to Maps of Africa .... nor Norwich's Maps of Africa.

  • Binding Condition: Fragile original
  • Overall Condition: Very good
  • Size: 28.3cm x 17.8cm
  • Name: Roger Stewart Antiquarian
  • Contact Person: Dr. Roger Stewart
  • Country: South Africa
  • Email:
  • Telephone: +27836541081
  • Preferred Payment Methods: LOCAL: EFT; INTERNATIONAL: PAYPAL or Bank Transfer; no credit cards
  • Trade Associations: IMCOS

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