The trade cards of the Liebig collection

An international collection with thousands of trade cards

No collection to date has been able to match Liebig's. This is true both for the territorial scope and for the number of trade cards. Not to mention the endless subjects that were covered in the various languages. Truly an encyclopaedia for everyone. In all this, you can see the cultural value of this commercial initiative. Liebig's cards are still small masterpieces of unparalleled beauty.

The company

The Liebig Company has been the producer of "Meat Extract" The famous German chemist Justus von Liebig was the inventor of the meat extraction process, which allowed to concentrate and preserve the essential nutrients and flavors of beef in the form of paste or boullion cubes. An English firm, who owned large cattle farms in South America, decided to start the production of the meat extract in 1850 and named it after its inventor. Soon, "Liebig Fleischextrakt" was sold all over the world. The production take place in Fray- Bentos and Colon (South America).

The collection

The Liebig collection is one of the largest trade cards collections. After more than a century of issues, the collection counts no less than 1871 different series, most of them measuring 7 x 11 centimetres. They cover real themes, from nature to history, from art to science and from religion to theatre. A collection of Liebig series is difficult to compare with other chromo collections. Depending on the period, the reverse side features advertising, simple Liebig recipes or explanatory texts.
Therefore, it is perhaps more appropriate to associate the collection with a real illustrated encyclopaedia, consisting of prints with a caption and additional commentary on the reverse. Today, almost a century and a half after its first publication, Liebig chromo collecting is by far the most widespread in the world compared to all other chromo collections known to date.
The collection comprises 1871 different series, most of them of 6 cards, all published between 1871 and 1975. Without counting the different languages, the original collection comprises about 11500 trade cards. Some cards are very rare and sought after by various collectors. The Liebig cards are distinguished by the high quality of the chromolithographic prints - up to 12 colours - and the perfection of the images. In many cases made by artists with a name.

Collectors all over the world use different catalogues (Jansens, Tourteau, Van Der Auwera, Arno, Dreser, Sanguinetti, Unificato, ... ). A free  conversion table  between catalogs is available on this website.

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