Commerce is a card game designed and manufactured by J. Ottmann Lithograph Company of New York in the early 1880s. In this card game, players attempt to corner the market in certain commodities by yelling out bids to other players. Interestingly enough, Commerce was marketed specifically to women as can be noted on the box cover, which depicts a pretty, stylishly dressed “Gibson girl” energetically raising her arm in a “commodities deal.” Games such as Commerce allowed women to feel like brokers and bankers, if only for a time, and if only in the seclusion of their homes. Ah yes, 1880s — what a chauvinistic period!
For game players who are familiar with the commodities trading game Pit, they will recognize that Commerce plays very similarly to it. In fact, some game historians have identified Commerce as the pre-curser to Pit.
For a game at least 125 years old, Commerce is in good antique condition. The graphics of the Gibson girl are bright and crisp, though the box top does show signs of shelf wear and two patches where part of the cover graphics have been torn away. The box bottom is a bit soiled and has a small puncture in one quadrant. The game cards total 48, with eight sets of six cards ranging from $30 to $100 in value, and from butter to coffee in commodity. The cards are free of tears, creases, and frayed edges, though a couple show signs of discoloration. The game rules are printed on paper and do have some slight yellowing and several creases; none of which impedes the legibility of the rules. Please see accompanying photographs to review condition issues.
Commerce promises many pleasant hours of great family entertainment. For those who collect antique game and toys, this commodities trading card game makes for a wonderful addition to such a collection.