History: Miniature art has a long history. Small art cards were all the rage in the 16th century. Most were portraits and were sold, not traded or given away. They were the first wallet "photos." Men would have nudes painted of their mistresses on art cards (probably without their wives knowing), usually by the same artist who created the larger family portraits of their wives & children.
In the 1700's, the French artists were the first to come up with the idea of advertisements on the backs of the art cards. During the Impressionist Age (1850-1860), artists traded cards among themselves to study each other's style & techniques. They also traded or sold the art cards as necessary for supplies, food, & lodging.
In 1887, "baseball" cards started to appear. These early cards are now very rare, and it is uncertain what they were made of. They were not mass produced until the golden years of baseball (1902 - 1935). Cards during this time were usually sold with bubble gum, chewing tobacco and cracker jacks.