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Trade card for a 'Bug Destroyer' Andrew Cooke, London, England, 1770-1779

Andrew Cooke advertised his services as a ‘Bug Destroyer’, especially bugs which destroy wooden furniture, walls and paper, including woodworm and book lice. He probably also dealt with bed bugs, which were a common problem. He claims to have “in the course of practice cleared upwards of 20,000 beds” of insects. In the 1770s he styled himself as the unofficial “Bug Destroyer to His Majesty” based on the large amounts of work he did for the King. This unofficial patronage of the then monarch George III boosted confidence in Cooke’s abilities – the King would only hire the best. The advertisement also suggests he had a lucrative line of work, which he jealously guarded against rivals, some of whom had apparently reported him as dead in order to gain his business.

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Glossary: trade card

Printed sheets, and later cards, bearing tradesmen's advertisements, often including an engraved illustration; produced from the 17th through the 19th century. Cards made later often included the name and address of a business concern and the name of its representative, and intended more for information than for advertising, use "business cards." For cards made later and distributed for advertisement, use "advertising cards," and for those made later and issued primarily to be collected, with or without advertisements on them, use "collecting cards."