Trade card for waterproof celluloid collars, cuffs, and shirt bosoms featuring a racially stereotyped depiction of an Asian boy smoking an opium pipe. A celluloid cuff and collar adorn the boy's exaggerated Asian-style clothing. The verso of the card is blank.
In the 1860s, demand for a mass-market ivory substitute led to the creation of celluloid, the first successful synthetic plastic. Celluloid's key qualities of transparency and flexibility, as well as the fact it was waterproof, led to its use in detachable collars, cuffs, and shirtfronts. These accessories proved popular among the growing class of Americans working in offices and stores, who needed affordable options for dressing neatly and formally while living on modest salaries in dirty, coal-fueled cities. To emphasize celluloid's stain resistance and ease of wash, trade card advertisements commonly played upon anti-Asian prejudices and specifically invoked racist stereotypes of the Chinese laundrymen and women whose services were supplanted by celluloid.
|Public Domain Mark 1.0
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