A global business

Title[Trade Card, American Radiator Co.]
CreatorAmerican Radiator Company
Dimensions9 × 18 cm
LocationLeventhal Map & Education Center at the Boston Public Library
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This little trade card was published by American Radiator Company and likely handed out at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. Perhaps to appeal to the spirit of the World’s Fair, they used a globe to showcase their reach, despite being located exclusively in North America. The vision forecast in this card did pan out, though: in 1894 the company entered the European market, complete with a London branch. ()

Education Tour

Red Dot Marks the Spot

This map is printed on a small card as an advertisement for a company that made radiators to heat homes and businesses. Notice that the back side of the card underlines fancy writing to make sure the reader knows the radiators are sold “ALL OVER THE WORLD”. What do the red symbols on the map represent? If the mapmaker wants us to notice where the red symbols are, why include a map of the whole world? Paying attention to how mapmakers use color and symbols can help us uncover the story they wish to tell. 

In the year this card was printed, probably 1892, a few of the company's radiators were sold in Europe, but they certainly weren't sold all over the world. And probably not in Japan, which is labeled in the wrong place on the map! 

Like the map of the B&C soda water factory in Boston, what do these mapmakers want viewers to think about these companies, and what strategies do they use to get that message across?


Wilkins 1969
Mira Wilkins, “An American Enterprise Abroad: American Radiator Company in Europe, 1895–1914,” Business History Review 43 (no. 3, Autumn 1969): 326-346. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3112386