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Trade card for James Mann, optician, London, England, 1706-1756

James Mann was an English optician working in London from 1706 to 1743. His shop was located “at the sign of Sir Isaac Newton” and he advertised its presence with the aid of two large pairs of spectacles. Using this sign meant that potential customers could find his premises easily, even if they could not read. James Mann made spectacle frames from a variety of different materials, including gold, horn, silver, tortoiseshell and leather. His cases were made from flint and rock crystal to protect the fragile contents. Mann’s clients were wealthy and could afford these luxury materials. Like most other opticians of the time, Mann also made telescopes, microscopes and thermometers. It was not unusual for opticians to make instruments that required highly ground lenses, as this was a skill that spectacle makers had acquired and developed in the course of their day to day work.

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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."