The Liebig Trade Cards: The Opera Series May 04 2021

The collectible cards of the Liebig Meat Extract Company were not only extremely popular when they were first released in 1872, but remain so to this day even over a hundred years later, In a time before commercial travel and mass information, they provided an eye-opening window to the wider world. Liebig Meat Extract trading cards were made for over a century later in 1975.

So what is the background behind these treasured cards, and why are they so unique? 



The Liebig Meat Extract Company

The origin of these highly collectible trading cards comes from unexpected beginnings: the business of selling concentrated meat stock. The method behind this meat extraction came from the German chemist Justus von Liebig. Liebig made the process public, wanting to share his invention with the world so even those who could not afford actual meat might at least still have the taste of it in their soups and stews.


What are Liebig Meat Extract Trade Cards?

Liebig’s trading cards began life as part of a marketing campaign for Liebig’s meat extract. Colorful and detailed illustrations of opera characters, exotic animals and historical architecture were lithographically printed on coated card by hand in vibrant technicolor, representing the finest examples of the Victorian master-printer’s art. 


Whilst they were an advertising tool, Liebig’s trade cards essentially became educational tools covering almost every field of knowledge. Before the mass-information age, these cards were seen as more than just a marketing gimmick, instead like an encyclopedia with the range of topics covered and information in the sets. The cards eventually became more popular than the meat extract they were trying to sell.


How many Liebig Meat Extract Trading Cards were made and where?

An estimated 1,500 sets were published with a total of 11,000 cards printed. The cards themselves mostly came in sets of 6, but also 12, and, having been issued in many countries can be found in several different languages. Cards were always released in the same exact size of 4.1" x 2.8".

What topics can you find with Liebig Meat Extract Trade Cards?

They covered a diverse range of subjects, from “Life in the Sahara”, “Female Fashions”, to the "Life of Coral”, “Banquets through the Ages”, and “Famous Chemists” (naturally depicting Liebig himself of course!). 


Tamino Autographs has a nice collection of over forty-five complete sets, all are within the realm of opera and classical composers, an incredibly popular category amongst the Victorians, and a great example of the creative spirit behind the wonderful universe of the Liebig Meat Extract trading cards. 


Why are Liebig’s Trading Cards so collectable?


Liebig’s Meat Extract cards represent tremendous value to collectors the world over because of their historical significance, intricately illustrated images, and limited supply. For many collectors the cards are priceless, with few willing to sell. Some sets are worth a great deal of money, but for many the attraction is not necessarily in dollar value but their place in history. 

How much are Liebig’s Trading Cards worth?

Liebig’s trading cards can be priced anywhere from USD 40 to over USD 300. A cards’ condition will be a factor, but the main element is the publication date with the earliest editions most expensive. For example, a set of 6 cards showing different ancient architectural styles, and printed in 1950 can be found online selling for $40; another set of 6 entitled “L’Antarctique” published in 1900 is being sold for $140; and a set of 6 cards showing exotic animals and published in 1886 is priced at over $300.


Where can more information on Liebig’s Trading Cards be found?

Full catalogs can be found online. There are also numerous articles that tell you more about these wonderful pieces, especially on museum and university sites such as London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, and Princeton University

Of the nearly 1500 sets released in total, over 40 are directly or indirectly related to opera and opera composers. Opera sets tell the libretto of the opera in 6 images, while the composers and opera characters sets depict the composer lives and the heroes and heroines in famous operas.

We prepared this report for your appreciation, enjoy!


A Summer Night Dream by Ambroise Thomas, published 1893

A Summer Night Dream by A Thomas 1893 Liebig

Aida by Giuseppe Verdi, published 1891

Aida 1891 Liebig


Asrael by Alberto Franchetti, published 1891

Asrael 1891 Liebig


Boris Godunov by Modest Mussorgsky, published 1927

Boris Godunov 1927 Liebig


Carmen by Georges Bizet, published 1895

Carmen opera set 1895 - Liebig Cards


La Damnation de Faust by Hector Berlioz, published 1911

La Damnation de Faust 1911 Liebig Cards


Der Freischutz by Carl Maria von Weber, published 1901

Der Freischutz 1901 - Liebig Cards


Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss, published 1935

Der Rosenkavalier 1935 - Liebig Cards


Der Trompeter von Sakkingen by Viktor Nessler, published 1893 

Der Trompeter von Sakkingen 1893 - Liebig Cards


Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg by Richard Wagner, published 1910

Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg 1910 - Liebig Cards


Die Walküre by Richard Wagner, published 1893 

Die Walkure 1893 - Liebig Cards


Die Zauberflöte by W.A. Mozart, published 1909

Die Zauberflote 1909 - Liebig Cards


Don Giovanni by W.A. Mozart, published 1907

Don Giovanni 1907 - Liebig Cards


Faust by Charles Gounod, published 1892

Faust 1892 - Liebig Cards


Female Heroes from Wagner Operas, published 1903

Female Heroes from Wagner Operas, published 1903


Female Opera Characters, published 1892

Female Opera Characters A 1892 - Liebig Cards

Female Opera Characters B 1892 - Liebig Cards


Fidelio by Ludwig van Beethoven, published 1901

Fidelio 1901 - Liebig Cards


Guillaume Tell by Gioachino Rossini, published 1938

Guillaume Tell 1938 - Liebig Cards


Hamlet by Ambroise Thomas, published 1900

Hamlet 1900 - Liebig Cards


Il Piccolo Marat by Pietro Mascagni, published 1924

Il Piccolo Marat 1924 - Liebig Cards


Il Trovatore by Giuseppe Verdi, published 1905

Il Trovatore 1905 - Liebig Cards


Johann Strauss Operas, published 1901

Johann Strauss Operas 1901 - Liebig Cards


L'Africaine by Giacomo Meyerbeer, published 1896

LAfricaine 1896 - Liebig Cards


La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi, published 1909

LAfricaine 1909 - Liebig Cards


Le Cid by Jules Massenet, published 1911

Le Cid 1911 - Liebig Cards


Le Nozze di Figaro by W.A. Mozart, published 1905

Le Nozze di Figaro 1905 - Liebig Cards


Le Prophéte by Jules Massenet, published 1897

Le Prophete 1897 - Liebig Cards


Les Huguenots by Giacomo Meyerbeer, published 1890

Les Huguenots 1890 - Liebig Cards


Lohengrin by Richard Wagner, published 1893

Lohengrin 1893 - Liebig Cards


Male Opera Characters, published 1893

Male Opera Characters 1893 A - Liebig Cards

Male Opera Characters 1893 B - Liebig Cards


Mignon by Ambroise Thomas, published 1908

Mignon 1908 - Liebig Cards


Oberon by Carl Maria von Weber, published 1905

Oberon 1905 - Liebig Cards


Opera Caricatures, published 1894

Opera Caricatures 1894 - Liebig Cards


Opera Menu Cards, published 1897

Opera Menu Cards 1897 - Liebig Cards


Opera Scenes, published 1893

Opera Scenes 1893 - Liebig Cards


Opera Theaters of the World, published 1924

Opera Theaters of the World 1924 - Liebig Cards


Operas and Composers, published 1905

Operas and Composers 1905 - Liebig Cards


Otello by Giuseppe Verdi, published 1888

Otello 1888 - Liebig Cards


Parsifal by Richard Wagner, published 1904

Parsifal 1904 - Liebig Cards


Robert Le Diable by Hector Berlioz, published 1909

Robert Le Diable 1909 - Liebig Cards


Samson et Dalila by Camille Saint-Säens, published 1906

Samson et Dalila 1906 - Liebig Cards


Tannhäuser by Richard Wagner, published 1896

Tannhauser 1896 - Liebig Cards


Turandot by Giacomo Puccini, published 1939

Turandot 1939 - Liebig Cards


Un Ballo in Maschera by Giuseppe Verdi, published 1952

Un ballo in maschera 1952 - Liebig Cards


Verdi and his Operas, published 1913

Verdi and his operas 1913 - Liebig Cards




Vintage Composer Toy Music Boxes by ANRI Toriart, Italy


Interested in authentic autographs?


Tamino Autographs @2020 - All rights reserved.