Before the contemporary business card, small trade cards were printed to advertise merchandise and services of various businesses. These might be elaborately designed and printed, often with humorous pictures. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, multicolor lithographic printing allowed for beautiful images on these relatively small, ephemeral cards.
Whiting & Son, a Boston firm, went to the Donaldson Brothers printing company in lower east side of Manhattan for their cards because Donaldson specialized in this type of commercial lithography. Note the African American barber. The Whiting brushes are marketed to both black and white owned businesses. Other examples of Donaldson’s cards have been posted earlier on this blog.
For a complete history of John Whiting’s firm, see http://www.efn.org/~marves/en/projects/brush.htm or if this link does not work on your computer, just google John L. Whiting brushes and it will come up.